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Agile Compass - Day Tours

Chiusa di Pesio, Italy
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dschorow wrote a review Oct 2019
San Jose, California3 contributions
Mike Khaw, owner of Agile Compass, led five cyclists on an excellent bike tour in Southern France. Mike Khaw knows the Limoux area well and tailored the routes and activities to exactly what we would enjoy that day. He drove us by van to and from the Toulouse airport, to dinners, wineries, activities and for some rides. A very experienced ride leader, he provided GPS files of our customized-to-us routes and led the rides. His French is very good; he was our translator as well as our wine concierge. :-) Mike arranged wonderful lodging at Domaine St. George just outside of Limoux and reserved excellent bikes (Pinarello) from Velomondo. Besides great cycling routes, Mike guided us through charming stone villages, markets, abbeys, views, and French experiences that we all enjoyed. The Limoux-area country scenery was a lot like the Napa Valley/Sonoma Valley wine growing areas. The terrain of rolling hills offers excitingly challenging climbs as desired. But rather than decades old like in the California Wine Region, the towns, cathedrals, and sites are centuries old here. The cafes and restaurants are French — and the food is exquisite. Plus, there is very little traffic in the countryside and the roads are very good. This year’s Tour de France 2019, stage 15 started in Limoux and we rode over the street markings. We’re recreational endurance cyclists not racers, but it was still fun to channel the Tour de France. We’re all from the Silicon Valley, and the lush greenery was a lovely contrast to golden autumn in California. The five of us really enjoyed our tour with Mike. Limoux is a lovely area to cycle and Mike made it the best.
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Date of experience: September 2019
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MinhNgoc N wrote a review Aug 2016
2 contributions1 helpful vote
A group of 6 friends and I recently did a week-long bicycle tour with Agile Compass (AC), hosted by Michael Khaw, and had a marvelous time. Unlike with most typical commercial tours, Michael served as our personal tour guide and was able to truly customize our week day-by-day to accommodate our group of cyclists of varying skills, abilities and interests. Two exceptional highlights were the Giro delle Valle Monregalesi Gran Fondo around Mondovì, and a visit to the Bicycle Museum in Cosseria. It was great to personally experience riding in the gran fondo alongside many, many Italian cyclists through small, picturesque villages. Local residents of all ages, sizes and shapes, whether cyclists or non-, were out cheering for us. It was really FUN to be fully immersed in the Italian culture and its people. I even enjoyed a massage at the end of the ride, included in the registration fee! For those of us who rode the 100km Medio Fondo instead of the 160km Gran Fondo, Michael took us to climb Prato Nevoso a few days later so we didn’t have to miss out on the challenge of this scenic 2008 Tour de France category 1 stage finish! We had a wonderful ride to, and visit at, the Bike Museum in Cosseria, which is small but features a significant collection of historical bicycles and race memorabilia from past and current champions. Our host was its founder Luciano Berruti, who came to show us the museum dressed in “Far West” (cowboy) attire in our honor because we were from California. Luciano is active in the Eroica series of vintage-bicycle rides around the world, and had just been to the one in Paso Robles, California, in April 2016 on a tandem with his wife Sofia. He even invited us to their home to show us his workshop full of vintage bicycle tools and, while attired in vintage cycling costume, demonstrated riding and running inside a gigantic “hamster wheel” he had built! And I was spoiled by having my turn running in this enormous hamster wheel as well! We felt so welcomed and honored in the way they received us. Michael not only speaks fluent Italian (as well as French), but also his knowledge of the Piedmont region is unsurpassed as he’s been offering tours there since 2005. He led us on back roads away from car traffic, knew the points of interest and advised us on cultural nuances. We stayed in a warm, welcoming family-run hotel where we appreciated extra privileges accorded to us because they’ve known Michael for so long, it is as though he were a family member. We also enjoyed a couple of dinners out (included in our tour) in addition to our delicious and ample dinners at the hotel, with great food & wine and choices that impressed even our vegetarian friends! This trip has left me with a desire to return for more cycling in Italy! I highly recommend Agile Compass to cyclists of all levels of ability.
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Date of experience: August 2016
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Jayorbon wrote a review Jun 2016
64 contributions11 helpful votes
+1
An excellent experience. Each day was different; we had easy days and hard days, hills and flat riding. Usually we had an interesting destination. It was like a vacation and a riding trip in one.
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Date of experience: June 2016
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Mona S wrote a review Sep 2015
San Jose, California54 contributions6 helpful votes
Choosing a week-long cycling tour is a big decision. Agile Compass came with top recommendations from friends who had done various tours, yet we were surprised by the beauty, culture, and food of Piedmont, the excellence of Mike's tour leading, and by how much we got for the price. One can certainly pay more and get less from a different company. We had a wonderful week of cycling the best of Italy. 1). Mike's expertise of the Piedmont area meant he selected the best sites for us. We love wine tasting and he chose routes in key wine tasting areas so we cycled through vineyards and got to taste the wines in tasting rooms in towns. Had we wanted fine chocolates, he would've taken us to just the place. Mike knows all about Piedmont. History to current events. Languages to culinary recipes. Being in Piedmont feels like a time warp; if you went back in time 200 years, much would be the same. 2). Mike's fluency in Italian gave us a personal translator. Mike knew everything that was going on and guided us to the most enjoyable opportunities. For example, he took us to a paella feast, a local community fund raiser with music and dancing. We'd never've known about it otherwise. 3). The food was exquisite. The slow food movement started in Piedmont and our gastronomic experiences were out-of-this world. We weren't foodies before this trip, but we may be now. We ate the best food -- ever. 4). My husband and I love cycling together. Mike customized each day of the trip to our preferences. When my husband, a stronger rider than I, wanted to go a bit longer. Mike adjusted the route so we rode most of the way together. Then I had fun wine tasting or shopping while they went farther. That the routes were customized to exactly what we wanted made each ride special. Mike personally led each ride explaining points of interest and keeping the ride great. 5). The cycling routes had us rolling through towns with ancient castles and churches. The towns were separated by lush orchards and farmlands, rolling hills covered with vineyards, and striking Alpine mountains. I've never cycled so many unique areas. In a week, we didn't get to all of the rides we wanted to do; there weren't enough days to do it all. Mike has developed a network of routes that minimizes traffic to the most beautiful spots in the Piedmont district. Cycling tiny country roads with few cars is a joy when you're used to the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of the prettiest rides were right from the hotel. Some, Mike drove the van to the start. 6). The hotel "home base" is owned by a Piedmont-native, Tomassa, who is, himself, an avid cyclist whom we saw on the road the day we climbed a nearby "col." Greg Lemond's autographed jersey hangs in a case in the dining room. 7). Our rental bikes were well configured to our measurements. The frame sizes were not our usual and we were apprehensive as to how they'd work out for us. "Fine" is the answer. Mike is a good bike mechanic and nothing that came up taxed his abilities. 8). Mike is an excellent tour leader. You could design your own bike trip, but you'd probably miss a lot of what Italy and certainly Piedmont can offer. What might've improved our experience? Tough question. In retrospect, we fretted over the bikes more than we needed to; the rental bikes worked out well. If you've read this far you're probably planning your own trip to the area. Enjoy! We did.
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Date of experience: September 2015
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David N wrote a review Jun 2014
Melbourne, Australia1 contribution
We have cycled with Michael's guidance in past activities in Italy and so were obviously impressed with his assistance and matching rides to ability. This time we decided to travel to the Piemonte region and use Michael's company, Agile Compass. His knowledge of the region and all that it offers coincides with help in all aspects of the cycling experience including organizing travel plans and bike hire, above and beyond expectations. Local knowledge of cuisine was also a highlight including a top class chocolate experience. Any individual or group should give the Piedmonte area consideration for a cycling holiday, it has all that anyone would want and Michael is the one to make the most of that experience for you.
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Date of experience: June 2014
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