Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Old favorites

I have been visiting Kate and family here for around 11 years now, and over time learned the roads and riding in the area.  In particular when here for a couple of weeks, I always rode my "favorites".  I haven't been doing them as much lately, as with the new location in the city, new favorites are being established, and riding with the club and Paolo means going with someone elses flow.  Today I put together 3 favorite pieces of rides and a really fun 65 kilometer ride in around 2 hours and 45 minutes.  I would guess it involved around 2300 vertical feet of climbing as well.  From the apartment, I can hop on Via Faentina, take a sotto passegata under railroad tracks, then navigate a couple of roundabouts and be on the basic road to Fiesole.  From Fiesole, I climb the very gradual route to the turn off for Monteloro.  After a short, but kind of nasty climb to the top, you have a truly beautiful, long descent back to the Arno valley.  Last winter I rode up this a number of times, but did not descend.  For years, it was my first ride when I got here, as the descent is really special.

I join the road by the river in Sieci, then go out that road a couple of kilometers to a favorite from last winter, the road from Sieci to the Molin de Vento (Windmill).  This is just a great climb, incredibly scenic, with little or no traffic.  I had not ridden this climb since I returned in early April.  Last time I rode it, the switchbacks in the trees had a little ice on them, today, it was around 90 and climbing.  From Molin de Vento, I took an old favorite descent past Grignano down to Pontesieve.  This is another simply beautiful descent on small roads with many, many switchbacks and again, little or no traffic.  I remember the first time I rode it with Don and Kay, and Kay saying it was her new "best so far" for the area.  From Pontesieve, I rode the river road back into town.  I passed a couple of Italian riders on the way in, who were in matching team outfits, and was hoping to draft my way back.  They were chatting, so I passed them, then the chatting was over and they hopped on.  I lead for a couple of kilometers, then ended up drafting the remainder of the way in.  The Italian riders are very into road riding and passionate about it and take it quite seriously in a very friendly manner.  Anyway, the return trip was easier due to everyone's ability to ride a paceline well.

The final climb before the descent into Monteloro and Sieci.

The view from a break spot at the top of the climb before descending to Monteloro.

A view of vineyards on the climb from Sieci to Molin de Vento.

The beautiful road from Sieci to Molin de Vento.

The famous Chiantini white cattle in an olive orchard on the climb from Sieci to Molin de Vento.

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