So far, so good and not yet saddle-sore, the next morning brings a real bike ride. It’s 20km (12.5miles) along the gravelly disused railway called Spoleto-Norcia to Castle San Felice. Voted the most beautiful bike path in Italy in 2015, there are pitch black tunnels en-route - the longest at over a mile where the inside temperature drops by ten degrees. It's spooky inside with our torches casting ghostly shadows and drops of ice cold water falling from the ceiling.
It's the views from the bridges which are the main draw. Another giddy rainbow of green - unspoilt forest, farmland and a full panorama of the region. Ancient monasteries and hamlets pop out among the long grass and tall trees.
Is there anybody down there?
"That's it. That one's mine too," I smile, pointing at a romantic looking farm with clipped hedges with a vintage Fiat in the drive.
"I could make this one my summer house."
As we pedalled on under the hot summer sun, it was like the first day at school. Like me, some hadn't been on a bike for years. We were all fish out of water but we easily settled into our saddles.
Rolling along side-by-side quickly became one of the highlights of the ride. We’d took pit stops for lunch together and another at a farm stay to taste four desserts made with homemade sheep ricotta cheese in the Monti Sibillini National Park - where we also came across a map of Italy planted in the hillside. It’s extraordinary.
The Garden Resort and Spa San Crispino grabbed my attention before even entering, surrounded by meadows of sunflowers, corn fields, rose gardens, olive trees and vines.
Given this setting, it came as no surprise to me that hundreds of years ago a miracle occurred nearby. A young soldier on his way to war had a vision to serve God and returned to his city to live and pray. He later became known as St Francis of Assisi. Now a UNESCO site, it heaves with daily coach groups. We didn't go for a look at the chapel or even into the stone walled village. Italy's patron saint would have wanted to drink wine outside instead and that’s precisely what I did.
On the last day we followed a trail called the Assisi-Spoleto that would take us up into wine country.
With so many little roads, we didn't see much traffic, so I put on my ‘go as fast as I dare’ face as I whizzed past butterflies, birds and bees.
We went off road for two hours so I relaxed my pace as we chatted along a canal about the key to a good Italian bike ride. Gelato was the answer - preferably pistachio, tiramisu and lemon.
With that in mind, it was full throttle for a crawl up a final climb to the Le Cimate vineyard. You won’t find the wines here in UK supermarkets but you might pay £50 for a bottle of their Montefalco Sagrantino in a fancy restaurant. There was red wine on arrival followed by a white at lunch. Then came a dessert wine with locally made Pecorino cheese.
After lunch we were feeling drowsy and driven on to Spoleto for a long lie down.
After a doze in the sunshine at Le Colombare Hotel and Resort, we walked around Spoleto in the evening. This ancient city ticks all the classic Umbrian boxes - courtyards, the Cathedral, big squares, statues, arches, steep cobbled streets and families dining in the open air.
Standing in the middle of Tower's Bridge looking across to the popular San Francisco way, I had another strange moment. I'd done it. I'd cycled across Umbria. I still had the grease on my legs to prove it. Now that's what I call an authentic souvenir.
By Natalie Chalk
To book a holiday package visit www.umbriabike.eu/en/ or email email@example.com.
For more information about bike routes in Umbria visit www.bikeinumbria.it and for general information go to www.umbriatourism.it