Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back in Italy and finally on the bike

Hi blog readers - I know from the stats that there are some out there - I am back from a difficult 2 plus weeks in the US.  My Mother died on 12-30, a couple of hours before I arrived.  I had seen her around Thanksgiving, and we talked most nights (for me), and the night before I left, I had a good talk with her and basically told her if it was time to go, she did not have to wait for me.  It is very sad, and a weird new reality to not have any living elders in the family.  I guess we are them now.  I hope this does not mean I have hit old age, but I know I am not in the middle anymore, needing to take care of both parents and children, which is how I defined middle age.  Anyway, I am sad to have lost her, but the quality of life for her the last couple of months was pretty bad, and it is really merciful for her that she has passed to whatever adventure awaits her next.  By Mom, I loved you with all my heart and am blessed to have had you as a mother.  

OK, enough with the personal note, back to riding, which is mostly what the blog is all about.  After returning, I had a couple of days of rain and relative cold.  I started a level 3 Italian language class on Tuesday, and will be doing that for a month in the mornings.  After class today, a perfect, sunny, but cold (around 35 to 40, cold for riding) day, I got all my gear back together, on and set off for a ride.  I rode pretty much what I planned, and I stayed pretty close to home, as I did not know how comfortable the temperatures would be.  

I climbed up Via Bolognese to Pian de San Bartolo, and turned off to Cercina.  I have ridden this climb many, many times, and I could really tell I had been off the bike for almost 3 weeks - it hurt a little on the way up and this is not a steep climb.  It was a beautiful contour / descent / climb over to Cercina, then up to the church above the town.  I took the right, a new favorite, and the right branch from that road to descend back toward Carriege.  I returned back up on the nice, but in places super steep road that hooked back up to where I branched off on the descent.  This was my first attempt at climbing this road, and a portion was very steep.  I did not check the percent on the Garmin, but I bet that a 200 meter stretch averaged 25%.  The climbing actually felt better than on the much easier climb up Via Bolognese, so my body must have remembered what it was doing.  I returned to the church above Cercina, then took the right and descended back toward Carriege.  A sweet descent, although with wet roads, I took it easy.  I branched off above the main road, and took the back way into the Carriege area, then turned off on the back way over toward Via Bolognese, turning off to return home via Piazza Giorgini.  How wonderful to be back on the bike.

If any readers out there have any advice, I am planning on a new bike, as a present to myself using some funds from my Mother's small estate.  I am thinking 5 to 6000 dollars max, and definitely want the new Ultegra electronic shifters.  My bike guru Don Cook is advising, and I will check with the team members here, but all input is welcomed.  I am hoping to find something very responsive, but with enough forgiveness to make the sometimes bumpy back roads and cobbles as comfortable as possible for an almost 60 year old rider.  The garmin link is below, but the summary is:  20 miles in 1:50 rolling time for an average speed of 11 mph, with 2460 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is good to be back, Ciao.

The road toward Cercina on a cold, sunny January afternoon.

Cercina with a church / monastery above.  You can see the snow line from
the last few stormy days on Monte Morello in the background.

A stunning view to the east from the second real climb.

Through the olive grove with Monte Morello in the background, from the second real climb.

1 comment:

  1. Its good to have you back! Thanks for the report.