Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fun, hard ride with the team. Ciao for 3 weeks.

I was up and out the door by 9:10 this morning to meet with the team for a ride.  Only 4 of us showed up, which is a pretty normal turnout for this time of year.  We had relatively perfect weather, with sunny skies and highs around 50.  We met a Illiopesca, around 5 k from the apartment, then went our normal back route to Lastra a Signa, then on the river road to Montelupo.  From Montelupo, we went out toward Vinci, but turned off just before the Vinci climb and went on some new roads for me, making the day into a lollipop course.  We went through Bassa, Fucecchio, and up to Cerreto Guidi.  It was quite pretty here and the only real climb of the day.  From Cerreto Guidi, we descended back to the road to Vinci, and joined the route we took out within a few hundred meters.  Then we simply followed the same route home.

It was a hard ride for me, as we started with one other person who was about my speed, a little slower today, and also, aside from me, the oldest member of the squadra.  He turned off before Empoli, and then I was with two young hammers for the remainder of the ride.  They really worked me, but when I dropped off, only a few times, they eventually slowed to get us back together.  The area we were riding was full of teams out this morning, and at times we were leading groups of up to 40.  I was hoping at times we would fall in behind some of the others, but after trying this, the two would pass everyone, then the group would stay with us or break apart.  All that said, it was very fun.  It is really cool to be a part of the group cycling scene here.  This morning we probably saw 15 other teams out for rides.  The quick summary is:  62 miles in 3:28 rolling time for an average of 17.8 mph, with 1320 vertical feet climbed.  Here is the Garmin link.

Fast ride with the team - the last for at least 3 weeks - they worked me. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I am off to Denver tomorrow morning for a planned 3 weeks, as my Mother's health is truly failing.  I will check in with the blog from time to time, but it will not be about rides.  I will be back here, I hope, in 3 weeks and back on the bike then.  Ciao.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A wonderful ride in perfect weather for late December - fun!

I worked on a little bit of logistics / emails / etc. for my upcoming trip to Denver this morning, but was able to get out on the bike by a little after 11, and was good for a relatively long ride.  Emily and I were taking care of the kids most of the day, but she stepped up and did almost all of it.  I will be over there before Torrio wakes from his nap to help for the remainder of the day.  Thanks, Emily.  The weather was just perfect.  It became totally clear and sunny by 10:30 or so, with the temperature climbing to around 50.  I think it probably averaged around 55 for the ride, which is really nice.  Short fingered gloves and a silk weight t-shirt under a long sleeved riding jersey, which seemed like very little clothing after most of my recent rides.  I did wear a very light vest for all the descents, which worked well.

I rode out of town on the Viales to the route to Bagno a Ripoli, then climbed the big hill through Osteria Nuova to San Donato in Collina.  I had a small snack on top and shot a couple of pictures.  Such a pretty day!  I descended through Troghi, Cellai, Pallazzolo, and turned off for the bridge across the Arno around the outlet stores.  I rode on the South East side of the Arno to San Ellero, then climbed through Donnini, which had the steepest pitch of the day, to Tosi, where I started my descent back down to Pelago, where there are a couple of small climbs before you descend and hook up to the main road and continue your descent into Pontesieve.  From Pontesieve, I follow the river road back to town, cutting off to take the most direct route home.

The Garmin site is down for maintenance, so I am guessing on a summary:  73 kilometers in around 3:20 rolling time, with close to 900 vertical meters of climbing, a super nice day so my estimate is the average temperature was around 53.  Ciao.

A pretty view through the olive trees on the way to San Donato.

Looking at the hillside I will be climbing and riding across
from San Donato.

Looking across the valley from San Donato in Collina.

A villa on a hill on the climb from Donnini to Tosi.  That looks like
a "Colorado" blue sky!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Some quick climbing to level out the emotions.

I have had a difficult couple of days with more to come.  My Mother in Colorado seems to actually be at the end of her life, and I am now booked to return to Colorado to help and be with her this Sunday.  She has seemed pretty good since I returned a month or so ago, and I was thinking it would be at least a few more months before we came to this point.  But here we are, and anyway we have had a couple of bad days with lots of phone calls, etc., with of course an 8 hour time difference factored in.  I very much relieve stress and deal with emotions by working out.  I always have and it works well for me.  The last two days included Christmas with my Daughter and her family here, which was great with the incredible exuberance for life that a 2 and 4 year old bring to the table.  It was also cloudy and rainy for both the last two days, so riding was pretty much out.  Yesterday, I took a longish - 2 hour - walk, but the skies really opened up about 1/2 hour into the walk, and I mostly walked quickly under the umbrella.

But today, I had decided to return to Colorado, and the weather was supposed to be improving, so I decided I would take a good sized ride.  I made my decision last night, but did not want to deal with getting the tickets until this morning.  Well, although purchasing the tickets went pretty well, and was surprisingly reasonable, getting seats for all the flights was not quick.  I was literally on the phone for 2 hours, but in the end I have seats for all the flights.  So, the long ride turned into a short ride, but it was great just the same.  I decided to go for climbing, and started up Via Bolognese, and on the way up decided to continue on Via Bolognese to Pratolino then take the road above and do a little loop through Casellina and Valliani to Bivigliano.  Last time I tried this, there was a fair amount of snow by the turn off to Casellina, and went with a different plan.  It has been warmer, and with a lot of rain, the snow has pretty much disappeared.  The roads through Casellina to Bivigliano and from there toward L'Olmo are particularly wonderful, and today it was great.

Just after Bivigliano, I entered some pretty dense fog, which I enjoy, but makes for some pretty intense riding - making sure I am totally aware of any cars in the vicinity.  The fog only lasted for a couple of kilometers, then it was just relatively cold and dark.  A little graupel, but no rain.  From the L'Olmo road, I went over to the Fiesole road, then descended to Fiesole.  From Fiesole, I took the main road down to San Domenico, but tried a new route that I had walked before back down to Le Cure, which worked quite well.  Great work out, good climbing, and fun.  Man, did I need that.  The link is below, but the summary is:  23 miles in 1:50 rolling time for an average speed of 12.5 mph, with 2350 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 48.  Sweet!!!!!

A couple of difficult days made this ride a must, just what the Dr ordered. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Boy, the sky got dark and was threatening as I started the hardest part of the climb.

Pretty road and dark skies on the way to Casellina.

Another view from the road to Casellina.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve ride

Happy Christmas Eve to all.  I took a slow start this morning, helping Emily a little with the baking she is doing for our presents to people here.  Not much help really, but all she was willing to accept.  So, the misty rain had disappeared overnight, and the sun was working hard to establish itself.  Temperatures were warm, around 50 plus, so I went off for some climbing relatively close to home.  I started with the back road to San Domenico, then climbed to the turn off for Maiano.  I descended to San Martino then did the climb past Vincigliata to the road to Montebeni.  At Montebeni, I turned off to descend to Compiobbi, then did one of my favorite climbs up through Monteloro to the Fiesole / Olmo road, then climbed to the Alberaccio.  I turned and descended through L'Olmo, Caldine, Pian de Mugnone, Piazza della Cure, then was back home.

Very fun ride, and for the climbing, I had only two layers on top and even removed my gloves.  Really nice to do some warm riding.  For the last and longest descent, I was back in full warm regalia, and it was nice.  Merry Christmas tomorrow all.  Click the garmin link for more information, but the summary is:  26.5 miles in 2:25 rolling time for an average speed of 10.9 mph with 3260 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature (including the sun) of 55.  Nice!  Ciao.

Sweet Christmas Eve ride, mostly sunny and warm by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The sun was finally out and the castle at Vincigliata was beckoning.

I took a little break to eat something and remove my gloves and 
saw this little off shoot of Strada Bianca.

Looking back toward the Convento de Madonna del Sasso 
from the Monteloro road.

Santa Brigida from the Monteloro road.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ride con Squadra - Cold, foggy, sunny and nice.

I had a really fun, adventurous ride this morning.  I met the team (squadra) around 5 k from the apartment.  It was relatively cold, around 35 and quite foggy.  I thought the reflective strips on my clothing would be enough, but I plan to get a little flashing red light I can attach to the bike so I can be seen from behind.  Several of the other riders had them and they worked well.  We were a surprisingly large group of 9, big for the weather.  We set off toward Lastra a Signa, but the visibility was not good, around 50 meters at most, and the fog was thick enough to almost qualify as mist.  I had to wipe my sunglasses often to attempt to see.  Somewhere along the way, we ended up on a route that I did not know, and with the fog, I was just going with the flow.  We started a climb, and I thought I knew the climb, and as we progressed, I did.  We were climbing from Lastra to Malmantine and by the top of the climb, we came out of the fog, which was only in the Arno valley.

It was suddenly sunny and quite nice, the temps around 45 with really crystal clear skies, and super views.  Sorry, no pictures, as it was a ride con squadra, sensa camera.  We descended into Ginestra Fiorentina, then took the little back road I sometimes ride toward Montagnana, then rode up the ridge road to San Pancrazio.  Stunning views with perfect skies.  From San Pancrazio, we descended to Ponterotto at Le Lame.  We climbed up to San Casciano, using the user friendly route, which I will always use now, then from San Casciano, we went across through Spedalletto, Chiesa Nuova, then turned down to Scandicci.  We took a route over toward our meeting place, then ended up a Allesandro's garage in town for a small festa (party).  A bottle of Prosecco, some Panatone, some chocolates, and 5 of us remaining, enjoying the day and the company.  What fun to be a part of the cycling culture here.  Sono molto contento.  (I am very content)

(I have to use my Italian a little or it totally goes away)  Check the link for the details, but the summary is:  44 miles in 3:12 rolling time for an average speed of 13.7 mph, with 2300 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 44, which includes the effect of the sun on the Garmin Edge 500.  Ciao!  Aguri!  (Bye, holiday wishes)

Ride con Squadra - Cold, foggy, sunny and nice. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another cold morning, at least for here, a little below 30 last night and around 38 when I started my ride.  It started out sunny, which is nice, but some light overcast increased to become mostly grey by the end of the ride.  I decided to do some up and down riding on roads that I like, but don't ride all that often.  Most of the time I do the up and down thing, I do the roads closest to the apartment.  Today, I rode over to Galluzzo by way of Poggio Imperiale and the Viale up to Poggio Imperiale.  It is a nice, beautiful way to get warm with around 200 vertical of climbing in around 5k.  From Galluzzo, I got on the Cinque Vie road and turned off at Cinque Vie to catch the start of the climb to San Gersole at Grassina.  It is a fun climb as a couple of the pictures show.

Before reaching San Gersole, I turned left and descended into the outskirts of Grassina, then took a very small road back up above San Gersole to like with the Impruneta road just below Monteoriolo.  I rode toward Impruneta, but turned off on one of my favorites through Baruffi to just below Tavernuzze.  I took the main road there toward Greve, but turned off to climb through San Andrea in Percussina (the Maciavelli exile location) to the road from San Casciano to Chiesa Nuova.  I turned right there and enjoyed the cruise over to Chiesa Nuova, then continued on to the descent down the fun switchbacks to Galluzzo.  I decided to climb back up to Poggio Imperiale, then skirted across Pian de Guilari to catch the Viale and descended down the fun gentle curving road to Porta Romana.  From there, through the Centro back to the apartment.

Check the link for more information, but the summary is:  33.7 miles in 2:51 rolling time for an average speed of 11.8 mph, with 3330 vertical feet of climbing, with an average temperature of 41.  For the first time my feet and hands got a little cold, not bad enough to stop future rides at this temperature.  Ciao!

Ups and downs in the Impruneta vicinity. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I loved the color of the stone on this villa on the first climb toward San Gersole.

I liked this church tower on the first climb toward San Gersole,
in a very small town called Vacciano.

This tiny, fun road is on the way to Monteoriolo - the super back way.
Yesterday, I awoke to a relatively cold but beautiful morning, and decided on a relatively long ride.  I started off on a route I had learned from Leif, and then had ridden myself, leaving town via the Cascine park, then taking various back roads to Lastra.  From there, I hooked up with the road that winds by the Arno river to Montelupo.  I have ridden this road a number of times this year, but always with the team, and it is different with time to look around and not have to pay such close attention as drafting with a group demands.  I actually had some fog in Lastra, and it stayed with me about 1/2 the way to Montelupo.  Back in the sun, I followed a route through Montelupo that I had done with the team, but not lead.  It came back to me fine, but I checked the map and took a break in the sun for some food and water.  I also stripped down to only 2 layers and a vest which was nice.  I rode through Sammontana, and Villanuova to Pozzole, where I turned left toward Castelfiorentino.  Around 2 k out on this road, a group hooked up with me, then passed.  They were almost the same speed as I, so it was easy to stay with them and let them do most of the work.  They appeared to be part of a professional team, as they had totally matching kits, right down to the shoes, and matching bikes.  They were talking away in Italian, and I did not ask about their team.

They all broke off before the climb started to Montespertoli.  The climb was super beautiful, as after a small relatively difficult stretch, you basically climb on a ridge for 6k with excellent views off both directions.  From Montespertoli, I descended into Bacciano, then climbed to Montagnana, where I received a call from Emily.  Vittorio and Kate were off to the hospital, with Vittorio in pain with something in his gut.  Emily assured me that all was fine, but she was checking everything to be sure.  I returned through Cerbia, Chiesa Nuova, then down to Scandicci, and back into Firenze, then on the Viales to the apartment.  

A birthday party had been planned for Viola with just a few friends and Moms coming.  Emily had baked Christmas cookies and set up for a group activity of decorating the cookies.  Kate called the Moms and cancelled, and I went over after showering and getting some food.  One of Viola's friends came by and they played.  Soon, Kate and Vittorio were home and Vittorio was either fine or in some pain, but the pain eventually passed.  He is fine this morning.  Emily and I left after 7, and enjoyed a pizza on the way home at one of our favorite spots.  

Check the link for all the specific information, but the summary of the ride is:  52 miles in 3:47 rolling time for an average speed of 13.7 mph, with 2425 feet of climbing at an average temperature of around 48.  The average temperature includes the effect of the sun.  Ciao!

A road and Church off the Sammontana road.

The road and countryside around Villanuova.

What a beautiful day!

The view to the Northwest from the ridge road to Montespertoli.

The view to the South from the ridge road.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Here are the pictures from today's earlier post.  I am not sure why they would not load normally, I tried a few different formats.  When I checked the stats after posting the description for today, I thought I could find a place where it might tell me what was wrong.  I could not find that, but thought I would just try a new post, and voila, it worked.  Also, Hooray! I made it over 1000 hits on the blog since my last post and am at 1007.  Thanks, readers.  

Above Fiesole - the first time, I climbed above the fog, which you can see here, with the taller hills in the background.

A couple of shots of the road climbing above Vincigliata. 
 I love the light and the feeling riding through here.  

Another shot of the foggy road.

Not the best picture, but Viola is the one looking at me and singing.
Just so full of energy and cute.

Viola and her Papa, Nicco, after the concert.  Que bella.

Fun, foggy ride / Viola's concert

Last night, I was recuited to babysit at 12:30, so I had to get going this morning to get a ride in.  It was predicted to be sunny today, but we awoke to fog.  Not so thick you could not see, but probably around 50 to 75 meters of visibility.  I got going and decided to go up and down around Fiesole and Vincigliata.  I started out on Via Faentina and turned off at Pian de Mugnone to take the steep climb to Fiesole.  I quite often descend this road, but this is probably around the 5th time I have climbed it.  It is steep in places - around 15 to 20%, and the world championship loop in Florence next September does this climb.  As I climbed, the theme for the day asserted itself - in and out of the fog.  At Fiesole, I climbed up to the road toward Montebeni, and at the beginning of this road I really got out of the fog for the only time during the ride - sunshine - sweet.

I kept going past the turn to Vincigliata and turned at Montebeni to descend through the outskirts of Settignano.  Last time I did this, I took the same route at the start of the descent, which is really quite steep in places.  Today, the road had some debris on it, with the recent heavy rains washing stuff from the hillsides onto the road.  The roads were wet, and I took it quite easy and relatively slow.  Around 1/2 way down, I turned off to the right and took a different road the remainder of the way down.  It was really sweet. Super thin - I think a small car would need to be careful not to scrape the sides - full of curves, and not too steep, just really fun.  It hooks up to the base of the climb through Vincigliata, which was my next climb.  In and out of lighter and thicker fog, the light was really nice making the riding a little spooky.  From Vincigliata, I climbed to the road over to Fiesole, then descended on the main road to San Domenico, then took the back way home.  Truly sweet ride for a quick morning jaunt.  Click the link for details and the profile, but the summary is:  18 miles in 1:42 rolling time for an average of 10.6 mph with 2260 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 42F.

Fun, foggy ride / Viola's concert by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

After returning home, I was over to Kate's to babysit for a couple of hours before Kate and I went to Viola's Christmas concert.  I don't think I started with a heart 2 sizes too small, like the grinch, but seeing the concert made me feel like my heart expanded 10 times it's normal size.  It was just so fun to see 30 - 4 year olds singing Christmas songs, in both Italian and English.  The had stickers on there noses for Rudolf, and most were clapping, dancing, and singing together.  Wow - this is the real reason we are here, and today it was perfect.  In particular with the funk I have been in since the events in Connecticut, it was wonderful to see the incredible exuberance of life from 4 year olds.  Could not have been more fun.

I am not sure why, but for the first time the blog is rejecting the server for my photos.  So, sorry, no photos of the ride, etc.  today.  I will post on facebook as an album if you want to see the photos.  I will find out why and photos will return soon.  Ciao.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

First time out with the team in a few weeks - super fun!

The weather was quite a bit warmer, and it was predicted to be clearing, so finally, a weekend ride with the team worked out.  We met at Tavernuzze, around 10k from the apartment, then rode up the Greve river valley to Greve, then climbed to Panzano and returned by basically the same route.  Great weather - for the first time in a while I only had my base layer, a jersey (long sleeved) and a very light vest, and it was perfect.  I even took off the balaclava and used a skull cap.  Still had the gloves on though.

We really booked out to Greve, and I stayed with everyone for almost all, but around 5 k from Greve I just could not continue to hold on.  Everyone slowed soon anyway, so all worked out.  It is really fun to be worked, and for a part of the way out, we caught a group of 2 or 3 other teams, and all cranked out in a good sized (around 40) gruppo.  We were only 6, and we lost 2/3 of the people at the turn to San Casciano.  It is a gas for me to be a part of this, as it is really a big part of the Italian culture, and it just gets my juices flowing.  Fun.  At Panzano, Alessandro showed me a famous butcher and his associated restaurant.  I am not sure when or how, but we must try it.  Perhaps a group would like the ride and we could have lunch there, then return.  We shall see.

Not from today, but from June 30 on a similar ride.  Both 
pictures are on the climb from Greve to Panzano.  Que bella!

The climb to Panzano is really nice, what I would call user friendly.  No steeper than 7% (guessing), but relatively long with a fair amount of vertical.  The descent was fun, but everyone was taking it easy, as the roads were wet and perhaps slippery.  The snow line must be much higher there than north of our place, as I saw no evidence of snow anywhere.  After returning to Greve, we started back to town, and one of the group, the youngest, who is around 30, was beat.  We had to wait and return to find him a couple of times.  Oh well, it happens to all of us sometimes, and it is good to be with a group that will double back and find him.  As the old man of the group, I would be lying if I did not admit that having the youngest be "destroyed" felt a little good for the ego.  Check out the link for all the details, but the summary is:  50 miles in 3:24 rolling time, for an average of 14.7, with 2280 vertical feet climbed.

First time out with the team in a few weeks - super fun! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, December 14, 2012

School's done for now, weather iffy, but out for some climbing

I had a slow start this morning, and ended up watching a documentary about a ski company in Denver that a good friend's son works for.  Really cool movie and I highly recommend it.  It is about Icelantic Skis, and I assume facebook users can finding by searching for Icelantic.  I checked the weather, and it was pretty dark, but last nights precipitation was drying up, and the satellite pictures showed more on the way, so I took for up Via Bolognese.  It was surprisingly warm, at least compared to what it has been recently, around 48, and I had lots of energy on the climb.  I felt like I flew up to Pratolino, where the snow line really asserted itself.

As a side note, the Garmin link is not as accurate as normal, as I spaced out starting the timer when I started my ride and only recalled when it repeatedly beeped at me a few kilometers into the ride.  I took the road to climb above Pratolino, planning on cutting off for Casselina and Vigliano, but by the time I got to that road, there was a fair amount of snow on the sides of the road, and the planned road is secondary at best, so I decided to just continue up to connect with the road over to L'Olmo, and descend home on Via Faentina.  I was super careful on the way down, especially at the top, as there were a few places on the road up where the road was iced up pretty good.  Below L'Olmo, it dried up, and by Caldine, it was mostly dry, although it started to snow lightly then.  I love riding in the light that is quite dark due to the low clouds, and today was perfect for this.  It seems a little spooky and fun to me.  It is pretty bright back in Firenze, but it certainly seemed that the storm I encountered on the ride should be on its way here.

Check the link for the details, but a summary (with additions for the time not recorded estimated) is:  18 miles with 1850 vertical, in around 1:20 rolling time for an average speed of 13.5 or so.  It always makes me happy to ride, I just love the riding here.  Ciao!

School's done for now, weather iffy, but out for some climbing. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Just above Pratolino, the snow started making itself felt.

Time for plan B, as this tertiary road could be dangerous - Pericoloso!

The clouds are moving in on the way over toward L'Olmo from the top of the climb.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

With the grandkids staying with us for a day plus, this was a quick escape

A couple of days without a post - it is probably a relief for some, but I'm back.  Monday, I did a great hike / walk, and tried the Garmin, but it was erratic and probably not made for a walk.  A good walk anyway, it was around 35, raining lightly, and I need to explore some of the many close in roads with vertical to keep my exersize jones happy.  Yesterday, I did get out for a ride, a couple of hours that I did not have planned. Kate left the kids with us for a day and one half, while she and Nicco went to Rome to be in the audience for a taping of a show that is Nicco's favorite - it is a political panel talk show, and this was his birthday present from Kate.  We had a lot of fun with the kids, but at almost 2 and 4 they have and take huge amounts of energy.  I planned on staying home, but when Torrio went to nap, and Viola was having quiet time, Emily encouraged me to get out.  She knows I am a much happier camper when I get out.  I thought it would be too cold, as it was around 35 the last time I was out, but the sun warmed it up to the mid 40's, and in the sun it was quite pleasant.

I rode up the back way to San Domenico, then took the main road up through Fiesole to the turn off for Vincigliata.  I took this and went past Vincigliata to Montebeni, where I descended to Settignano.  I had not been down here many times, and am looking for more close in climbs / riding.  I found an excellent route down, and looking at the map, it appears that I have 3 options there.  I then looked for the climb to Vincigliata, and ended up finding the road to Maiano.  But a little ways up this road, it connects with my normal route to climb Vincigliata, but I checked out where the road hits the Settignano road, and connected it all in my head.  Anyway, I then climbed the Vincigliata road, a standard for me, to the road over to Fiesole, then turned off there to descend to Pian de Mugnone, then took Via Faentina back to town.  It will work well for the winter, no snow at these altitudes, lots of climbing and fun roads.

Check the link for the details, but the summary is:  19.5 miles in 1:48 for an average speed of 10.8, with 2400 vertical feet of climbing.  Sweet!

With the grandkids staying with us for a day plus, this was a quick escape by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

What a beautiful day.  These photos are on the Vincigliata climb.
Road, views, etc.  Hope you all like it!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ups and downs close to home - Snow line around 1200 vertical above home

It was a really beautiful day today, but I checked the temperature around 1/2 hour before I would have to be on the bike to ride with the team today, and it was 34 - too cold for me.  We have an annual meeting and dinner to follow on Thursday night, and I will ask about leaving later, as it was around 45 two hours later, which is fine for riding.  I had a big American breakfast, which I love, then a bit later, Emily and I went into town to check out some Christmas fairs.  The fair at the Pallazzo Corsini was pretty good, and it allow us a rare glimpse of the pallazzo itself.  We then went by the fair at Piazza Republica, which was basically a food fair, then we went to a store where Emily knew she wanted some Christmas stuff.  I know there is a better word than stuff, but it seems appropriate to me now.  I left her then to go by another fair, and walked home to suit up to ride.

It seemed quite warm in the sun, but in the shade, it was a different story.  I think I am getting the kit set for this weather, and was quite comfortable riding.  I picked riding up Via Bolognese, a hill which I know has mostly south exposure, and it was quite nice.  I could see to the east that the hills above Fiesole had snow, so I was pretty sure that it would be snowy above Montorsoli on Via Bolognese.  I took the turn off to Cercina, and did catch some snow and slightly icy roads by Cercina, which increased as I crested the top of the road at the church above Cercina.  I took the route to the right, and asked a rider coming up from that direction, who said that it was only patchy snow and ice, and it was fine for riding.  Good to know, and I cautiously enjoyed the descent to the Carriege area, where I turned to climb a different road back to the church above Cercina.  I was pretty sure this road had a mostly southern exposure, and it was a great climb.  I went back through Cercina, then took the right turn to go through Canonica de Cercina, then down the steep descent to the back roads above Carriege.

I went through Carriege, then took the turn off for the back way toward Via Bolognese, but turned off to catch Piazza Giorgini, then back to the apartment a way that has a couple of routes under the railroad tracks, with little to no traffic.  Click the link for all the information, but the summary is:  2520 vertical climbing in 21.2 miles in a rolling time of 1:57 for an average of 10,8 mph at an average temperature of 47 or so.  Always fun to be on the bike, and I will be doing more exploring close to home as the snow line descends.  Ciao!

Ups and downs close to home - Snow line around 1200 vertical above home by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

In the distance you can see the snow line above Fiesole, which
is just to the right of the picture.  The photo below is a close up of the same spot.

Looking back toward the church above Cercina with a little evidence
of the occasional icy / snowy conditions.

From the same location, you can see the snow in the shaded places.
It is quite a contrast to the bright green that still exists here.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Too cold for a ride, so a nice long walk instead.

Well, it was only around 34 degrees when I was leaving, so I decided on a walk.  I can walk up some of the roads I take riding and although I don't go far up them, they all link and can become a nice walk. I walked through the 4 close parks today - The one across the street - L'Ortologico, then one centered around an old palazzo, then one dedicated to the person who founded the boy scouts, then through the gardens at the Stibbert Museum.  From the Stibbert gardens, I hook up on a tiny street - see the photo - and walk up to Via Bolognese, but I almost immediately turn off it to another tiny road that goes up and down then really descends back toward Piazza Giorgini.  Here I can turn back to go home, but today, I went down to the Fortezza, then through the city center, ending up at Kate's where Emily was babysitting so Kate and Nicco could do some errands.

They returned home, then Emily and I took Kate's car to IKEA, to buy some christmas stuff - fake tree (my first), some inexpensive ornaments, etc.  It was totally packed, and as always an interesting cultural experience.  I guess my Italian is getting better, as I can now communicate and am not intimidated by the rapid fire responses to questions.  We returned home, and will return the car to Kate's tonight on the way to a holiday party at a mutual friend's house.  Wow - Emily and I with a social committment in Firenze.  Actually we have a few coming up, so we must be settling in.  Hopefully a ride with the team in the morning, but we will see about the temperature when I get up.  Ciao.

I just love this dragon sculpture in the park next to our house.  
It is also a water feature - really cool!

The tiny road above the Stibbert Museum.  Fun walking.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Foggy, sunny, chilly, but a great fun ride.

After Kate asked me to come by to see if I could get their washing machine door opened, which I failed at but tried, I went to riding plan B.  As I was already on the south side of Firenze, I went out Porta Romana, up Poggio Imperiale, down to Galluzzo, then up the regular road through Pozzolattico, Mezzomonte, Monteoriolo, then turned off before Impruneta to descend through Baruffi to Tavernuzze.   I went out the main road there to the turn off for Luiano, and then did the super fun climb to Mercatale.  I first hit fog coming through Baruffi, which was not too thick, so it was a little spooky, but I enjoy it.  The light in the woods is captivating for me.  I again hit fog on the way up toward Mercatale, but was out of it and into total sunshine by the top of the road.  I returned to Firenze via San Casciano, Spedellato, Chiesa Nuova, down to Scandicci, and back home via the viales.

A really fun ride.  I am getting the clothing down, as the average riding temperature was around 43 F, which is colder than I used to ride at.  For a long time, I simply said that below 45 F it was not worth it.  But here, this is what I have and enjoy.  Certainly, I think 40 F may be my bottom riding temperature, then it will be walks around the city.  Check the link for the specifics, but the summary is:  36 miles in 2:40 rolling time for an average of 13.4 mph, with 2500 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 43 degrees.  Cold, but really fun!

Foggy, sunny, chilly, but a great fun ride. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Just breaking out of the fog on the climb through Luiano, I loved the light.

Above the fog, I had wonderful views of the hills above and the fog below.

No more leaves on the vineyards, with the low / fog clouds in the background.

It doesn't show on the picture, but there is snow on the peaks in the background.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cold, cloudy quick ride, I needed it!

Well, it was supposed to be clear this morning, but I awoke to fog.  Emily was returning from the States, and her flight into Florence, was cancelled, then the next flight was eventually sent to Bologna, then she was bussed to Firenze.  Sorry for the traveling hastles, Emily, but it is nice to have you home.  Between both of our visits to my Mother, we have additional home help set up and hospice has started their services.  Emily is the greatest to help so much with all of this, I don't know if I could do it without her.  Thank You my dear wife.

After Italian classes, I regrouped at home, then went to buy some wine from our Vino Sfuso store, and picked up some flowers for Emily on the way home.  She was home around 10 minutes after me, so the last part was not as slow as we thought.  I helped her unpack a little, then offered a lunch out, but she wanted to relax and catch up with her unpacking and maybe a little sleep.  So, I went on a relatively quick ride, one of my standard short rides.  It is getting a little cold, so I am working with the clothes, I would say relatively successfully.  I rode the back way to San Domenico, up the Fiesole road to the Maiano turn-off, descended past Maiano to the Chiesa San Martino, then did the fabulous climb through Vincigliata to the road that takes you back toward Fiesole.  At the top, I added my gore-tex rain coat, which also keeps wind out.  It was just the right thing and the descent was relatively toasty.  I rode back through Fiesole, turning off to descend through Pian de Mugnone, then back home on Via Faentina.  Sweet ride.  Click the link for all the details, but the summary is:  14.4 miles in 1:21 rolling time, for an average speed of 10.6 mph (slow), with 2500 vertical feet of climbing.  Yipee!

Cold, cloudy quick ride, I needed it! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Here are a couple of shots of the ride on the road toward Maiano.
As cold as it looks - average temperature riding less than 47 Fahrenheit.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cercina quick ride on an errand filled day

Today, I was planning on riding with the team in the morning, but I overslept, which almost never happens to me.  So, when I got up, I had 15 minutes until I would need to leave and it was raining lightly.  So, no way.  I had a leisurely breakfast, read a great article about the Grateful Dead that Ben had sent me from the New Yorker, cleaned the apartment, and spent a couple of hours catching up with the remainder of the Italian lessons I missed while in Denver.  The sun came out, and a quick ride beckoned.

Although the sun was short lived, I had a wonderful ride.  This almost always is the result when I get off my ass and motivate.  I rode up Via Bolognese to the turn off in Pian de San Bartolo, then contoured / climbed to Cercina, then the church above Cercina and took the right branch for the super fun descent.  The sun came back out, and it was really beautiful.  As the bottom, I rode past the Carrieggi complex, then took the cut off, which is actually a bit longer, but keeps you off any main roads back to Via Bolognese.  I took one different turn than normal, and I was back on Via Bolognese, where I descended a very short amount then turned off on Via de Bardi, which I had walked recently, and brings you down to Via Faentina just prior to the Sotto Passeggiatta, which I took and was back home.  The summary is:  14.3 miles with 1700 vertical feet of climbing in a rolling time of 1:22 for an average speed of 11.5 mph.  Check out the map and details below if you wish.  Ciao.

Cercina quick ride on an errand filled day by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A little grey and cloudy, but a joy to ride.

I thought the sky was particularly pretty around Cercina 
where I took these two pictures.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fun, early December ride - Scarperia, San Agata, Galliano, Vaglia

Kate and I went to a symphony concert last night, with Zubin Mehta conducting, which is the first time this  fall I have seen him conduct.  It was really a great concert.  I have found out that he has a house between La Romola and Cerbia, an area I ride in quite often.  We had dinner after the concert, so I was not in bed asleep until 1:30 or 2, which made for a late morning for me and a solo ride rather than getting up earlier to ride with the team.  The weather was forecast for more rain, but I actually saw some sun, and it looked pretty good.  For some reason, I had the ride I did in mind when I started.

I rode  up Via Faentina all the way to Passo Vetta della Croce, then enjoyed the fun descent though Polcanto and Faltona to the valley of the Sieve river, and turned off for the road to Scarperia before getting to Borgo San Lorenzo.  I rode to Scarperia, refilled the water bottle (the water is really cold and very good now in almost all the little mountain towns) the did the up and down contouring ride through San Agata to Galliano.  For some reason I flashed back to my college days and our fraternity parties with Harvey Wallbangers made with Galliano.  We purchased a gallon bottle for the parties, and when I was president of the house, the empty bottle came to me and it ended up with a different but still intoxicating use.

Back to the ride, from Galliano, I hook up with a main road and ride slightly downhill for around 3 k, then turn off on a tiny road that goes through Bosco de Frati to San Piero a Sieve, where you join the main road that goes back to Florence through Vaglia and Pratolino, ending up right at the apartment with a small detour required by a portion of one way on Via Bolognese.  My friend Don Cook calls the section that goes through Bosco de Frati the 401 of road riding, which if you know 401 or Don says alot about how fun and beautiful this stretch is.  Really fun ride.  Almost the minute I got off the bike, a light rain started.  Lucky me!  As always, you can check out the Garmin link for all the information on the ride, but the summary is:  46 miles in 3:26 rolling time for an average speed of 13.7 mph, with a whopping 4470 vertical feet climbed.

Fun, early December ride - Scarperia, San Agata, Galliano, Vaglia by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The scenery climbing to Passo Vetta della Croce just past L'Olmo.

Off the side of the road from the same location as above.  
With my cold weather gloves on, I am not taking the photos as I ride anymore.

I love the green valleys and rolling hills between San Agata and Galliano.
The picture above and the two following are from this area.  

Que Bella!

Wow, I am so lucky to be able to ride these roads whenever I want.