Friday, August 24, 2012


I am posting from Colorado, where I have visited my mother, who is doing reasonably well.  I enjoyed having lunch with a couple of close college friends, and also had a dinner with some college friends and wives while in the Denver area.  I then went to CB for a week.  In CB, I have stayed with Don and Kay, and mountain biked a few times with both of them.  On my way to town, I spent some time at the storage unit attempting to find some things I needed, successfully with 2 bikes, but unsuccessfully for fishing gear.  I could not find my bike helmet and a couple of other things I needed for mountain biking, but Don set me up in CB for this.  I had a great dinner at Donita's on my arrival night and met a friend of Don's who is an endurance mountain bike racer.

The next day Don and I rode the Lupine trail, which had an extension added to it this year, and it is a beautiful addition to the valley's trail system.  We hooked up with the lower loop system, and rode the GB loop, then the upper lower loop, hooking into the budd trail, and returning on the ruby bend.  Fun ride, although I had some adjusting to do being back on a mountain bike versus my road bike.  Ben, my son, and I hooked up after the ride for a nice hike out to a lake in the Irwin vicinity.  I really experienced altitude for the first time on the hike, but had fun with Ben and his new dog Drogon.

The next day, Ben and I hiked the entire lower loop system with Drogon.  Afterward, I hooked up with Don and we worked on hanging a old fashioned "ordinary" bike above the door to Donita's.  The US Pro Cycling Challenge was coming through town the next day, and Don thought the bike above the door would catch people's eyes and bring them in.  It looked great up there.  Don and I then rode Tony's trail to the upper, upper loop to Brush Creek, proceeding out to Strand Hill.  It was late afternoon, the light and weather was perfect, and the ride was great.  I felt great, with little to no altitude problems, and the transition to Mountain biking seemed to be complete.

The next morning, Kay and I hooked up with some friends of Kay's and did a great ride on the ski hill, linking many trails to give us around 20 miles of single track.  Super fun.  I posted some pictures on facebook, and will have some on this post.  That afternoon, the US Pro Cycling Challenge came through CB, and Ben and I hooked up to watch it come through town.  Really fun to see, and it made me very proud of CB as a town and a beautiful place.  I had moved to my friend Richard's house for a couple of days that night, and was able to attend a dinner for his son who started college in the beginning of the summer, and was home for a week or two.

Wednesday, Ronnie, a very close college friend, and I met to have a day fishing.  Ronnie knew of a medium size creek, and we spent a great day fishing and catching up.  We both caught many fish, but the name of the creek must remain nameless.  Richard and another of his son's and I had a nice dinner that night.

Thursday, I met with some friends who are coming to Firenze and we discussed many things about their trip.  They are hiring me for a week to be a guide, and it should be fun.  After the meeting, Ben and I met and had a great, relatively long day of hiking.  We drove out to Gothic, and hiked the Copper Creek trail to Copper Lake.  I relaxed there, while Ben did a loop from the lake involving two very high mountain passes.  He mostly ran these, so I took off from the lake before his return, and we met on the descent, where I waited in another location.  Great Sushi dinner at a place in town.  That brings me up to date, so Ciao!

Ben and Drogon on the Lower Loop trail.

Here I am on the top of Strand Hill with Teocalli Peak in the background.

Jenn, Dave, and Kay toward the beginning of our ride on the ski hill.

The US Pro Cycling Challenge comes through CB.

Ben in Richard's back yard, before we went to dinner.

Ronnie fishing the small creek - catch em up Ronnie.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Quick ride, pictures of gates

I am travelling to the US tomorrow, so this will be my last post for a while.  I will visit my Mother, who's health is deteriorating, but she should be fine for a little while.  I will see some friends in Denver, and spend a week or so in CB, seeing my son and some friends there.  I will hopefully mountain bike, fish, and hike.  After a few pieces that needed to be done on the Internet, I took off for my planned, relatively short ride.  I rode out Via Faentina, up my new route to San Domenico, then up towards Fiesole, turning off after around 500 vertical of climbing to descend to Maiano and then to the Chiesa San Martino.  From there, I connect to the road to climb to Vincigliata, then more climbing to connect to the road that goes either to Montebeni or over toward Fiesole.  I went toward Fiesole, hooked up to the main road down to Fiesole, and in Fiesole I turned off for the very fun descent into Pian de Mugnone.  There I hooked up with Via Faentina, and returned home.  A very fun 25 kilometer ride in around 1 hour 10 minutes with around 1500 vertical of climbing.

On the way up, I decided to mix it up a little with the pictures, and took a few shots of some of the many beautiful gates into different properties.  Here they are, and I will be back blogging when I return from the States in the beginning of September.  Ciao.

A gate into a large property on the road to San Domenico.

On the road to Fiesole, before the turn off to Maiano, there is a property with a 
beautiful garden.  This is a shot through the fence toward the rose garden in the background.

This is the gate to the same property.  I hope the pictures shows the 
manicured grounds behind the gate.

A gate on the way to Maiano.  I am not sure you can see it, but the 
entire city of Florence spreads out below.

Directly opposite on the way to Maiano, here is a gate to a property 
with it's own tower.  Che bello!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

8-12 ride con squadra

Up early this morning to do my normal yoga routine, have a quick breakfast, then meet close by at the Piazza della Liberta for a ride with the team / club.  I wasn't sure if anyone would show up, as it is August, and it appears that most Florentines are on vacation.  Anyway, 3 others showed up and Davide and Moreno were the tour directors (TD for Kay).  After a quick discussion, I heard something about San Piero, then we were off.  We went out of the city on the viales, hooked up with the road to Pontesieve, and rode pretty hard out there.  From Pontesieve, we branched off on the road to Rufina, Dicomano, Vicchio, Borgo San Lorenzo, the over to San Piero a Sieve.  With the exception of a stop for a train, we pretty much booked out there.  We passed a few other club / teams on the way out, and by the Rufina area, we were leading two other clubs and around 25 cyclists.  Weekend mornings the clubs are out in full force, and as I have mentioned previously, in part of the culture here, cycling is a big thing.  It is a part of life for many and a passion for a few.  From San Piero, we took a route to Barberino de Mugello, which was mostly new for me.  We rode on many bridges over the big lake or lago de Bilanciano.  Beautiful and fun.  From Barberino, we hooked up to a road I had ridden once previously, and climbed to Croci a Calenzano, a pass at around 1600 vertical.

The route before the real climb basically followed rivers, first the Arno, then the Sieve.  So, we had been climbing very gradually all day, then ramped it up for the climb to Croci.  On the way up the final climb, Moreno had a problem with his bike.  The rear wheel was true, but when stressed, it did not hold in the center position to the frame.  We looked at it for a while, and he decided he could make it home, but would simply need to go slow.  He wanted us to go ahead, so we did.  We descended to Calenzano, right next to Prato, then took roads in the flats back into the centro of Firenze.  We rode quite quickly for me, ending up with 110 kilometers in 3 hours and 41 minutes, averaging around 30 kph, with around 2000 vertical climbed.  I will do a short ride tomorrow, then I am off to the States to see my Mother and spend time with friends in CB for a couple of weeks.  I have ordered a Garmin bike computer which will record vertical and routes, so I will no longer be guessing the amounts climbed.

Sorry, when riding with the squadra, I don't really take time to take pictures, as usually I am one of the slowest in the group anyway, which was the case today.  Ciao, ciao.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

8-11 - Errands, ride

Some successful errands were accomplished yesterday afternoon and this morning.  I purchased a printer yesterday afternoon.  There is an electronics store not far from our apartment, and on previous trips there, I always saw printers on sale for a reasonable price.  I bought a Canon printer / copier / scanner for 34 euros.  I found out this morning that the printer to connect to a computer was not included, and had to go out and pick one up.  This morning, we went to our first "yard sale" here in Florence.  An acquaintance of Kate's has to leave town and was having a yard sale.  Emily and I took the bus to walk to the address from the email, and the name was on the buzzer, but there was no sign of any sale.  We buzzed the name and were let in.  The sale was in the apartment, which makes sense, as there is no place on the sidewalk or no yard to speak of anywhere.  We found a few items, including a small stand where the printer, that is now functional sits.

That brought me to around 2:00, and although it is not as hot as it has been, it was around 92, which is still hot to me.  I was planning a short ride though, so the weather is not a problem.  I rode up Via Bolognese to Pian de Bartolo, and turned off to Cercina, then descended to Serpiole, where I tried a turn off that I had seen previously and I thought might connect to another road I have ridden.  Well, it did connect, and it may become my standard way back from Serpiole.  It involves a little climbing, but is a beautiful little piece of road, and takes you to right above the Carriege complex.  Great little ride, 23 kilometers, around 1200 vertical of climbing, in around 1 hour 4 minutes.  Sorry, no pictures today.

Friday, August 10, 2012

8-10 - a little discouraged, but a great ride

I mentioned another successful blog that Emily had referred me to for tips on blogging.  One of the tips was to write what you feel and just put it out there.  Well, after getting the contact for a tour yesterday, I returned an email to the person explaining that I did not do groups, but could work something out for her or for her and a friend.  Later in the day, she wrote back that she thought that would be too expensive, and she would look for alternatives.  I wrote her that I would charge her 1/2 the rate for two people, and hoped this would work out.  She wrote back saying thank you for making it affordable, but that she had already made other arrangements.  Not a big deal, but I was looking forward to taking someone, a paying customer, out rather than spending my time attempting to market.  As I have said in the past, I just need to stay patient, and things will work out if I keep trying.  So, I started the day a little discouraged.  When Emily asked me if I was going riding, I responded, yes, what else do I have to do.  Well, poor Mark.  I am blessed to be able to ride as much as I do, I love it, and am blessed to have the opportunity to be here and try this.  I believe all that, but discouragement can creep in.

I took off on my ride on another hot day, and had a truly great ride.  The moodiness faded with each passing kilometer, and by the middle of the ride, I was totally stoked.  I rode out the Viale to Piazza Ferucci, then out to Bagno a Ripoli.  At Bagno a Ripoli, you start a long climb to San Donato in Collina, a climb of around 1800 vertical feet.  It is a great road, and with a few exceptions, the climb is not that steep.  From San Donato, I descended through Troghi, Cellai (water stop), Palazzolo, then turned off just after Burchio.  This descent has become one of my favorites, and today was no exception.  From Burchio I rode over to the bridge across the Arno, then climbed, and descended, then climbed again to the turn off toward Matassino, then climbed to Regello, where I found more good, and actually reasonably cold water.  From Regello, I climbed to Pietrapiana, the descended to San Donato Fronzano, then climbed to Donnini.  More water in Donnini, again, quite cold, then a beautiful climb to Tosi.  More water in Tosi, then a descent, with some climbing mixed in to Paterno, then Pelago.  From Pelago, a descent to hook into the main road, then a continuing descent into Pontesieve.  Back home with a tail wind, yippee, through Sieci, Compiobbi, etc., to Firenze.  A total of 90 kilometers in 3 hours and 52 minutes, with a climbing guess of 4000 vertical feet.  The road to Regello I had not ridden in a number of years, and the road across, up, etc. to Tosi, then Pelago was truly beautiful and fun.  Hey, I have to remind myself to be present and enjoy!

A shot of the great descent between Cellai and Palazzolo.  
I just love this road!

A beautiful small church and bell tower on the way out of Palazzolo.

On the climb to Regello, there are some sandstone formations 
that I have only seen on this road in Tuscany.

Wow.  A nice little country villa on the climb to Tosi from Donnini.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

8-9 ride - Monte Morello

The good news is this morning I received an email from someone who wants a tour this weekend.  I hope it works out.  I also stopped by Florence by Bike, a bike shop I use and the sponsor of the team I ride with.  A couple of weeks ago I rode with a guy, Leif, who does bike tours, who said most of his work is through other tour operators.  Yesterday at my meeting with Paul, he suggested I talk to Florence by Bike, as they do tours and need guides occasionally.  I spoke with Lorenzo's wife, who works there, and the person I needed to talk to is on vacation, but called while we were talking.  I need to come back when she returns (which is also around when I return from the US) and it appears some work will happen as needed.  Perfect for me.  Leif also had a job for me, but it was while I am in the US, so it did not work out.  Anyway, some hopeful happenings for future work.  Sometimes it feels like I am just spinning my wheels with the marketing, blogging, facebook, etc.  I still feel with some patience it will work out.

After all this and a couple of errands in the city, I took a short-ish ride.  Up Via Bolognese, to get some water in Pratolino (around 12 kilometers and 1200 vertical feet).  From Pratolino, I rode over the connector road to the Monte Morello road, and finished the climb, probably another 1000 vertical feet.  From the top, I enjoyed the descent to a turn off I had taken once before, going to Settimello and Calenzano.  From there, I rode back to Firenze on fairly trafficked roads.  Total of 43 kilometers in one hour 56 minutes.  Another fun ride in Firenze.

The sign by the turn off to Settimello, saying, 
"Attention.  Rough road, danger, proceed with caution."

The road by the sign - it is not really all that rough or dangerous.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

8-8 ride and meeting

I met this morning with the head concierge at the Four Seasons in Florence.  It was a good meeting, but he brought up some things I had been ignoring and need to deal with.  If this is to be a real business, I need to deal with liability waivers and having the ability to give real receipts.  I will use my LLC in Colorado as the business legally, and will be able to give receipts based on this.  I can then do the work here through the LLC, not needing a Permesso de Lavoro to work, which I do not have and don't know how I can obtain.  The Four Seasons has to protect themselves, so they require these types of things to be in place to use a business.  It is good for me to deal with this, as it does need to be taken care of.  I will come up with a liability waiver myself, in plain language, hopefully quite clear, and will also see if I can change the name of the LLC I currently have set up in Colorado.  This should all work out relatively easily, but will take some effort.

After the meeting, I was off for a ride, but by the time I was on the bike it was already around 11:00 and getting quite warm.  I went my back way to San Domenico, then up to Fiesole (water), then up to the turn off for Monteloro, basically the top of the climb.  I descended down the Monteloro road to Sieci, getting more water in Monteloro, then went up one of my favorite climbs to the molino de vento (windmill).  From there, I descended to the Pope's road, which is almost to Rufina, then rode this road back over to Pontesieve.  From Pontesieve, I rode the main road back through Sieci (water) then back to Firenze.  65 kilometers in a little over 3 hours, with around 3000 vertical of climbing.

The road to Alberaccio before the Monteloro turn off.

A beautiful view of very green vineyards and a villa from 
the ridge road above Monteloro.

The Church bell tower in Sieci from the main public square
(piazza) where I got water and took a break.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

8-7 ride


After a couple of days off from riding, I started out on a hot and relatively humid (for me) day around 9:45.  I had a route in mind, but was willing to change if the heat got me down.  I started out on the Viale, up past Piazza Michealangelo, the up the back way to Poggio Imperiale.  I went over to Galluzzo, then climbed the switchbacks to the ridge, climbing over to Chiesa Nuova.  I descended into Cerbia for my first water break of the day.  From there, I climbed to Montagnana, descended to Bacciano, then climbed to Montespertoli.  I took a break in Montespertoli, as a festa and mercato was underway.  I could not find any water, as the square was relatively packed with people and tbe streets were full of vendors.  I took off and found the road I was looking for to Montelupo by way of Botinaccio.  I had ridden this road in the past, but it must have been 5 years since I had been on it, and it was really fun.  I have been taking a road on the ridge before, as I like the mosaics on the gate to a church there.  I made my way into Montelupo, and looked for water there.  I asked someone, but following the directions, was not able to find it.

I took off for Ginestra Fiorentina, and knew I would either have to find water there of buy it.  I rode through the town on Ginestra Fiorentina, and did not find the water, but stopped and asked a person, who gave me good directions, and in the corner of a small parking lot / piazza, there was a small structure which dispensed cold water - with or without gas.  I was glad to get the water, and drank a full bottle, then refilled for the remainder of the ride.  I rode up to Marliano, over and up to Vigliano, up through Roveta, to Santa Maria a Marciaola.  I then descended to Scandicci, and returned home via Porta San Frediano and the centro.  Only the last 45 minutes were really hot and taking a toll, most of the ride felt really good.  86 kilometers in 4 hours and 8 minutes of riding time.  I think around 3500 to 4000 vertical.

It was a happening scene at the piazza in the centro of Montespertoli.

I liked the view of the line of cypress trees so typical of Tuscany from the ridge 
between Montespertoli and Botinaccio.

It looks like the road will fall off the edge ahead, and the sign reads 15%.

A beautiful church and monastery just after the very small town of Botinaccio.

I just read a list of suggestion for bloggers from "The Pioneer Woman", a blog Emily reads regularly which is quite successful, and one of the suggestions is to blog every day.  Well, I do this after rides, and lately have been trying to combine a few days, but I will take the successful blogger's suggestion and blog away daily.  Anyway, that is why this post is happening now, and not combined with the next few days.

Remember (the shameless commerce division of the blog) to check out to book your own personal guided tour of the riding here.

Ciao, ciao.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

8-4 ride con squadra

I had a great ride this morning with the remnants of the team still in Florence in August.  Well, that is an exaggeration, but there were 3 of us, and the other two are regulars and very strong.  One is the club president, and the other's grandfather was a very famous cyclist here, winning a number of Giros.  Anyway, we climbed away from Florence on Via Faentina, up past L'Olmo to the pass there, then descended on the new pavement through Polcanto and Faltona, then taking the turn to San Piero a Sieve.  That turn eventually, with a few other turns, connected with SS65 or Via Bolognese.  We took this road over and around Lago di Bilancino, then started the 15 kilometer climb to Passo del Futo.  It was a beautiful climb, topping out at 910 meters, which is a good climb of I would guess around 2750 vertical.  We stopped on the way at small village called Montecarelli, where I happily found some water.  At the top, there was a very cool little bar / cafe, which has been run by the same family for over 100 years.  Inside there are pictures of cyclists from I would guess the 1940's to the present.  Only real racers had pictures up, some of them signed.  We did not see that many cyclists on the way up, but while checking out the bar at the top, around 15 cyclists came up from the other side.

A fun bike scene at the top, and as seems normal, a few of the cyclists knew either Lorenzo or Ricardo, my riding partners.  Although both of them are definitely stronger than I, and quite a bit younger, they did not have to wait much for me, which made me feel good.  We descended down the road we had just climbed, and decided to return pretty directly to Firenze, as the temperatures were getting quite hot. We had originally planned on turning off to Panna, then going through Galliano, but re-traced the climb instead.  It was a blast.  From the base of the climb, we stayed on Via Bolognese through Vaglia, where Lorenzo knew of a great spring for water.  Up to Pratolino, then down home through Montorsoli and Pian de Bartolo.  Right at 100 kilometers in 4 hours 8 minutes of riding time.  I would guess that we climbed a total of 5500 to 6000 vertical, so a good hard effort for me.

The Bar / Cafe at the top of the Passo dela Futa.

The sign by the front entry saying owned and operated by 
the same family since 1892.

One of the guys wanted to take a picture of me in front of the cafe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

8-1,2,3 rides


Well, we are babysitting most of the day, and Emily, of course, is doing most of the effort.  I took a short, but great ride, which I haven't done in a while.  I rode up Via Bolognese to Pian de Bartolo, where I turned off for Cercina.  This is also where the Via Volognese road ramps up to 10 plus percent, so it is a nice place to turn off.  The descent / contour / climb to Cercina is spectacular.  Tiny road, no traffic, and for around 1/3 of it, new floor.  Sweet.  From Cercina, you climb to a church, where you start a great descent.  Curves, switchbacks, olive groves, tiny town, everything you could want.  The road drops back into Florence very close to the Carreggi hospital complex, and then I follow pretty main roads home.  A total of 23 kilometers in 1 hour and 5 minutes.  No pictures today, as I am sure I have posted this ride before.


Fun ride today, but really hot by the time I returned.  I took off with a couple of options in mind, which is a great thing about riding here.  I went out the viale to the road to Bagno a Ripoli, then climbed up through Osteria Nuova to the top at San Donato in Collina.  From there, I descended through Troghi to Cellai, where I refilled my water.  I continued the descent through Paalzzolo, Burchio, and Incisa.  There are a few 100 to 200 vertical climbs in particular at the end of the descent, but it is basically downhill.  From Incisa, I made my decision to go to Figline, then up toward Passo de Sugame, and turned off toward La Panca.  At Dudda, just before the turn off, there is a spot for water, with some nice benches in the shade by a church.  I refilled water, doused my head, helmet, etc., and stopped for a snack.  A nun came out of the church, and sat and chatted with me.  She was happy to deal with my fractured Italian, and seemed to enjoy talking with someone who was out cycling in the heat.  By this time, I think it was getting toward 100, and the heat was setting in.

At La Panca, the climb is over, and a really great descent to the road to Strada in Chianti awaits.  It is around 12 kilometers of almost all descent, and relatively gentle, so you do not really need to use the brakes.  Super fun.  A short climb into the centro of Strada, where I refilled water, doused, and had another snack.  From Strada, it is a relatively straight shot to Grassina, mostly descending along a ridge line.  At Grassina, I ride through to Ponte a Ema, and find the road to Cinque Vie, which hooks into very small back roads to Piazza Ferrucci, where you reconnect with the viales to ride home.  Right at 75 kilometers, in 3 hours 10 minutes of riding time, with a guess of 3000 vertical of climbing.

The beautiful climb toward Dudda from Figline

The church at the water / rest / chat location in Dudda.

Another shot of the great road from Figline to Dudda.

Sting has a villa on the road, and I believe this or the next picture are his villa.

Sting's house?


A short ride day today, as we have many errands to complete, and I will ride with the Squadra tomorrow, and it appears to be a long ride.  I rode up the new way to San Domenico, then to Fiesole, then climbed to the turn off for Vincigliata, then climbed to the next turn off.  I descended to Vincigliata, then down to the outskirts of Florence.  I picked up the back road to Maiano, then the main road back to Piazza della Cure.  20 kilometers, around 1 hour on the bike and around 1200 vertical.  Beautiful roads, around 1/2 the time with no traffic, a real pleasure to have this kind of quickie ride available.

The walled road to San Domenico - Che bella strada!

The road above Fiesole before the turn off toward Vincigliata.