Friday, May 31, 2013

Nice giro de Mugello - Cosimo style.

The weather cooperated today, and after I dropped my bag to be taken to Modena for clothes to change into on Sunday at the shop, I did a few errands, then returned home and got ready to ride.  I had decided on a medium day and will take the day off tomorrow.  As you can tell, I am pretty focused on the Firenze / Modena ride of Sunday.

I started by climbing Via Bolognese to Pratolino, then descending through Vaglia, San Piero a Sieve, then into Scarperia where I turned off on the road to San Agata.  This area is one of my favorites, it is super beautiful with great views in most directions.  I stopped in the old centro at San Agata, and had a cafe machiato at my new favorite bar.  I have now been here 4 or 5 times, and they are always quite friendly and the cafe is excellent.  There is also a water spigot 5 yards from the bar.  After San Agata, I rode across / up / down to Galliano, where I hooked up with the main road for a couple of kilometers.

I took off on the tiny road through Bosco ai Frati, to San Piero a Sieve, a super nice road.  I took the road toward Borgo San Lorenzo and turned off to get the climb to Vetta alla Croce.  A good climb, and although I was determined not to push hard, I still had one of my best times.  From the top of the pass, I took the road to Fiesole, then down to San Domenico, and took the pallazuolo road to Le Cure, then returned home.  Ride summary is:  47.4 miles in 3:06 rolling time (the auto pause sometimes does some weird things) for an average speed of 15.2 mph with 3560 vertical feet of climbing at a nice sun affected temperature of 69.  Next post on Monday after the big ride Sunday.  Wish me luck everyone!  Ciao.

Pratolino, Vaglia, Scaperia, San Agata, Croce alla Vetta, Fiesole, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The road into Vaglia, looking back up toward Pratolino.

I love this bar in San Agata for a cafe machiato.

The view to the southeast from the San Agata area.

The road between Bosco ai Frati and San Piero a Sieve.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pretty standard close in ride with a fair amount of climbing.

Kate, Emily, and the grandchildren are off to the US for a couple of weeks, so my priority yesterday was to spend some time with Kate and Torrio - we had a wonderful time in the Boboli for a few hours - then with Emily - we met at Rivoire and enjoyed what may be the last hot chocolate of the season.  Em and I returned home, and I had plenty of time for a ride, as the weather for the next couple of days was forecast to be pretty dismal.  As I write this on Thursday morning, it is pouring rain, so dismal it is.  At least the forecast for Sunday, the Firenze / Modena day, is good at this point.

I took off around 3, and decided on a pretty standard ride for me when I want to climb, but stay close.  The clouds were quite threatening at times.  I rode through Le Cure, the up to San Domenico, then up to the turn off for Maiano.  I descended through Maiano, then to the base of the Vincigliata climb.  I did the climb, which I really like, and it gets the most difficult climb of the ride out of the way soon.  At the top, I turn right, and ride through Montebeni, then enjoy the descent to Compiobbi.  Here, you are on the main road for a kilometer or two, then start the Monteloro climb.  Again, one of my favorites - not too steep, relatively long, pretty deserted, and very beautiful.  At the top, I decided to continue climbing to the L'Olmo turn off, as the wind was blowing pretty good, and the side of the ridge ride down to Fiesole seemed like it would be fighting a pretty brutal head wind.  I enjoyed the descent from L'Olmo though Caldine, Pian de Mugnone, then home through Le Cure.

Ride summary:  26.3 miles in 2:06 for an average speed of 12.5 mph with 3130 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 69.  A great, fun, close in ride!

Quick maintenance ride with climbing close in. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of pictures of the road climbing to Monteloro.  
Che bello!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Consuma, Stia, Croci ai Mori - two big passes.

The weather prediction was for mostly clear skies today with little chance of rain, so after a morning of errands with Emily, I took off on my last big training ride for this weekends event.  The weather was predicted to be rainy the next three days, so despite a relatively long day yesterday, I wanted to get this in.  I rode out the Viales to the main river road, then up through Pontesieve to the start of the Passo della Consuma ride.  I have descended most of this a number of times, but have never climbed it before.  It is a pretty steady climb of around 1100 meter elevation gain.  A good work out for me.  You pass through a number of towns, and as you go the traffic thins out, which is nice.  At the top, I took a short break for some water / food, and put my rain shell on for warmth.

You descend a couple of hundred vertical meters, then have a few kilometers of up and down riding with no significant elevation change.  The climbs are a little bit of a surprise, as you are thinking at the top of a pass you are done climbing for a while.  I had ridden this descent with the team a year or so ago and had some memory of this so I was kind of prepared.  Soon after you start the real descent, I turned off to the left to take the road to Stia.  A wonderful descent, although there are patches of road that could use some work.  Beautiful views, curvy road, and the feeling you are definitely away from Firenze.

At Stia, I found the water with a little help from an old man who was enamored with my bike.  It always feels great to have someone say repeatedly, "bella bici".  We had found the same water location a year ago with the team, so I was on the right track when I asked.  After getting some water and a little break for some food, I started up to Croci ai Mori.  The start of the climb is quite gentle, and you can ride pretty quickly up this.  The last few kilometers of the climb are steeper, and I was definitely feeling my legs at this point with two hard rides in a row.  My time was definitely not fast, but I got to the top feeling pretty good.  I am thinking I will need to take the climbs easy on Sunday, as the Firenze / Modena course has an additional 1400 meters of climbing versus this ride.

From the top of this pass, there is a really wonderful, long, not steep, descent into Londa.  Beautiful road, nice surface almost all the way, and just a pleasure to ride.  In Londa, I stopped for a cafe, which gave me energy for the 35 kilometers or so of slightly descending slog back home.  The weather cooperated, and today, as I write this, it is gray and has rained lightly 3 times as of 11:15.  So, good decision.  A couple of days off, then a few easy rides before Sunday.  Ride summary:  71.3 miles in 5:00 for an average speed of 14.2 mph with 5700 feet of vertical gain at an average sun affected temperature of 71.

Last training ride - Consuma, Stia, Croce ai Mori by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A beautiful view from the top of the Passo della Consuma.

The Arno as a small stream in Stia.

The sign at the top of the Croci ai Mori.

A view from the top of the Croci ai Mori to the Southwest.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Start with the team, but due to problems, off on my own for a wonderful tour.

I started early this morning, and rode to the meeting place with the team for today's raduno, which seemed like a nice course.  As we left the meeting place, I tried to change gears and nothing happened. I tried again, and saw the battery light flashing - dead battery.  I told the ragazzi I had to return, and went home.  I charged the battery, then set off on a solo ride.  I really have to figure out when to recharge and how often.  I know there is a "beep" when the battery is getting low, but when riding at speed, I don't really hear the "beep".  I think I will try a regular schedule of charging in the future.  I am riding a lot these days, so I think I will try every two plus weeks.

I decided to do a tour I have started a number of times in the last couple of weeks, but not completed due to weather.  I rode out the Cascine, then the back roads to Signa, then Lastra a Signa.  I got on the main road to Montelupo that winds along next to the Arno.  I enjoyed this, and passed a number of riders.  I thought a couple would stay with me, but no one did.  In Montelupo, I navigated through town and got on the road to Sammontana, then rode through there, then Villanuova, Pozzole, then found my way to the Monterappoli road.  I had only ridden this once with the team, I think in December, and was working on memory.  I found it, and climbed to Monterappoli, a pleasure to ride.  The roads from Pozzole through Monterappoli to Sant Andrea, where you hook up with a main road are wonderful to ride on.  How lucky I am.

From Sant Andrea, where I made my way through a wedding on a tiny road by a church, I took the main road to Castelfiorentino, then turned off to climb through Ortimino, then up and along the ridge to Montespertoli.  Another fantastic ridge road, climbing hard at times, but mostly a gentle grade with wonderful views off both sides.  From Montespertoli I descended to Bacciano, then went out the valley road and found a new road for me to Lucignano.  It was quite steep, but had almost no traffic, and was quite beautiful to ride.  I hooked up with the San Pancrazio road at the top and was in San Pancrazio in no time.  I refilled my water, then descended to Ponte rotto, where I had a nice cafe and pastry.  I then climbed / descended / climbed pretty hard to San Casciano, then rode over to Spedelletto, then descended by the Machiavelli house to the main road at Tavernuzze.  I took this to Galluzzo, then hooked up with the Cinque Vie road, then the Viales back home.  Great ride, great day.  Summary is:  71.8 miles in 4:47 rolling time for an average speed of 15.0 with 3565 vertical feet of climbing at a nice sun effected average temperature of 68.

Team, then solo - Montelupo, Castelfiorentino, San Casciano by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Starting the climb to Monterappoli.

The view to the east from the ridge before Monterappoli.

The view from the ridge between Castelfiorentino and Ortimio.

Loved this vineyard on the only flat section on the 
difficult climb to Lucignano.

On the climb to Lucignano, the views were spectacular.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chianti tour through the Vayable service with Sach and Sara.

I had a nice tour today with some fun clients through the guide service, Vayable.  Sach and I had emailed a number of times, as the weather was forecast to not be so good, and we discussed alternatives.  The weather ended up fine, and we missed any rain today.  We met at the Florence by Bike shop, where they rented the bikes for the tour.  We got them set up, and started out for our tour.  We took the bike path by the Viale over to the Arno, then got on the main Viale to the bridge over the arno then turned off to climb the little used road that switchbacks up to Piazzale Michaelangelo.  We stopped there for some viewing and I pointed out the sights to them, with a little history added.

We continued our tour on the Viale Michaelangelo to the turn off for Poggio Imperiale, then descended to Galluzzo.  We stopped in Galluzzo for espresso, and a break.  The kiosk in the main piazza / park there has excellent espresso, and a nice place to sit outside and enjoy life.  We then started the real climb for the day and climbed up to Pozzolatico and had another short break.  We continued our climb, and as we were getting close to the San Gersole turn, both Sach and Sara expressed that this was probably enough climbing.  That was fine, as the San Gersole road is a great little used descent, which we took through Vacciano to Grassina.  In Grassina, we opted for the Cinque Vie route, then back into the center by the Arno.  Back in the city center, I wanted to show them the Pitti Gola wine bar, a great wine bar run by some friends and great people.  On the way there, we stopped at Quattro Leone for a nice lunch, then I introduced them to Zeno at the wine bar on the way to their hotel.  I dropped them at Porta al Prato, then finished up riding home.

The weather held off for us, but is predicted to be pretty bad for the next few days.  We ended up with a very nice day and tour.  Thanks for "Riding with Cosimo" Sach and Sara.  Ciao.

Great Vayable tour with Sachim and Sara by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

At Piazzale Michaelangelo with the city in the background.

Sach and Sara climbing the hill toward the San Gersole turn-off.

Sara riding toward Pozzolatico.

Sach and Sara in front of some beautiful gates just before San Gersole.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fun, fast ride with a fair amount of climbing. The usual here.

I awoke this morning to some surprise rain, then checked the forecast, and of course, it had changed.  The rain stopped, and I did some errands, then decided to get out for a relatively quick ride.  The weather was still threatening, and if the forecast was to be believed, this afternoon was the best chance in a couple of days.  I started out the same as yesterday, up Via Bolognese to Pratolino, then continuing up, but turning off to ride over / down / up through Casellina and Viliano to the west side of Bivigliano.  From here, I took the right turn, and did the super fun descent to Vaglia.  At one point on the descent there are 8 switchbacks that totally link together with no straight between.  Fun.  At the base of the descent in Vaglia, I went north toward San Piero a Sieve, but turned off to go through the tunnel and take the link over to the base of Faentina close to Borgo San Lorenzo.

I started the climb up to Croce alla Vetta, and was thinking I would not be trying today to see how fast I would go up this climb.  I was pushing pretty good when a guy passed me, and with a little extra effort I held on to him for a few kilometers before he truly dropped me.  Well, the semi mellow pace was over in my mind at this point.  I continued up the climb and did not try to stay in the big ring after it got a little steeper.  I think this actually made me ride faster, as I was only 4 seconds away from a personal best on Strava.  Anyway, it was fun again to push, and I am feeling great.  I continued straight on Faentina after the Croce alla Vetta, and descended through L'Olmo, Caldine, and Pian de Mugnone, before getting back to Florence.

Fun ride with pretty good weather.  The summary is:  34.7 miles in 2:20 for an average speed of 14.9 mph with 3230 vertical feet climbed at a sun effected temperature of 71.  Ciao.

Pratolino, Bivigliano, Vaglia, Croce alla Vetta by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The view to the North from the base of the descent in Vaglia.

The view back up the start of the climb just descended in Vaglia.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fun, quick training ride with lots of climbing.

I caught up with lots of stuff this morning, confirming a Friday tour, and hopefully setting up two more in June.  We met Kate and Torrio by the apartment and had a cafe and pastry before going to Viola's "dress rehearsal" of her end of the year singing show, the "saggio".  Viola is going to the USA with Kate, Vittorio, and Emily in a week, and this was our only chance to see this.  It is nice that the school let it happen this way.  It is really fun and a privilege to be able to watch something like this.  I will admit, it usually moves me close to tears as I watch.  After watching the Saggio, I did some errands - dinner tonight (alone as Emily is out with the girls), a couple of new tubes, and a few CO2 canisters for the modern method of pumping up a tire on the road.  Actually, I was not successful using the canister on the new pump yesterday, but re-read the directions, and I believe I now have it down on how to use it.  I am certainly glad I bought a pump that works for both the canisters and a hand pump.

I left from the apartment and rode directly up to Monte Scenario from here.  It is a pretty direct climb with only a few spots that are flat or slightly descending.  I am taking the training for the Firenze / Modena event a week from Sunday pretty seriously, and thought this climb would be better than a day off.  I pushed it pretty hard and had personal bests on a few of the climbs.  It is a really beautiful climb with wonderful roads, and I can make it into a reasonable loop.  I climb up through Pian de San Barolo, Montorsoli, Pratolino (water), and then directly up to Monte Scenario.  It is a really beautiful spot up there, and a true pleasure to have it so close by.

On the descent, you have to retrace a little of the climb, then can turn it into a loop by riding through Bivigliano, then over toward L'Olmo, and then I took the road above Fiesole back through Fiesole, turning off to descend to Pian de Mugnone, then through Piazza della Cure and home.  A great, fun ride.  Quick summary is:  26.1 miles in 1:52 rolling time for an average speed of 14 mph with 2695 vertical feet climbed at a sun effected temperature of 74.  I love it here!

Monte Scenario training ride by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Some great views on the climb to Montescenario - beautiful day.

Close to the same location, slightly different view.

At the top - my "arty" shot with the beautiful cross and 
the beautiful bike below, with a beautiful panorama in the background.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Super client ride with Marita!

Depending on how you look at it, one of the fun things about doing these tours is starting the day without really knowing how it is going to turn out.  Marita, whom I took out today, told me via email that she would be using tennis shoes, and did not have cycling specific shoes.  To me, that meant that she was not that into cycling.  But she had also written that she rode around 10,000 kilometers last year, which is a fair amount.  Well, she turned out to be pretty strong, in particular on the climbs, so the 10,000 k was a better indicator.  We started off toward Fiesole, via Le Cure and San Domenico.  We continued up to Fiesole, and I did not try to drop her, but rode pretty fast, and she totally stayed with me.  We stopped in Fiesole for an espresso, and kept climbing.  I was already figuring out a plan B, as she was obviously stronger that I had expected.  We climbed up the road above Fiesole to the turn off for Molin de Piano, just below Croce alla Vetta.

We stopped at the top of the climb, took some pictures, and headed off on the descent.  Something new happened for me on the descent, as I hit a rock with my front tire while going what I consider quite fast, and the bike started to shimmy.  I hung on, and controlled the shimmy, and got it back under control.  Soon thereafter, I heard the hiss of a tire losing air pressure.  I stopped to change the tube, and flagged down Marita.  It was probably good the flat happened, as I only really became aware of my adreneline level after I stopped.  The whole incident really got me going.  I changed the tube and we continued our descent, turning off on the contouring / up / down road through Santa Brigida, Fornello, and Doccia.  I gradually calmed down, and we stopped a couple times for pictures.  Marita was really into taking pictures.  We did not stop to do it that often, but when we did, she would work at it for 5 or 10 minutes.

No problem, as the whole point of the tour is for the client to have fun.  We stopped at the windmill, and I offered some options.  We descended to Rufina, as she went for the longer option.  We then climbed to Diacetto, one of my favorite climbs, and again, I was not really trying to drop her, but I went pretty fast up the hill.  She totally stayed with me, and I thought she may want more climbing.  We descended from Diacetto into Pelago, and stopped for a second espresso and a panini.  When giving her the option of Monteloro on the way back, she opted for the main road instead.  We rode down through Pontesieve, Sieci, and back into town.  Great tour and great riding Marita.  Thanks for "riding with Cosimo"  Quick summary is:  44.6 miles in 3:43 riding time for an average speed of 12 mph with 4095 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 66.  Great day!

Great ride with Marita - Santa Brigida, Rufina, Diacetto, Pelago by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Marita with the first real descent in the background, at
"Alberaccio" near Croce alla Vetta.

Marita on one of the descending parts of the road
from Santa Brigida to the Molino de Vento.

A closer shot of the same spot as she went by.

At the Molino de Vento, she was totally into taking
pictures, so I thought this was an appropriate photo.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Montelupo, Sammontana, Montespertoli, Chiesa Nuova, home.

I was planning on a longer ride, but we needed to do some grocery shopping, and some other things, and I have a client tomorrow and hopefully on Friday (not yet confirmed), so I did not set out until around 1:00.  I went out through the Cascine and took the nice back route to Lastra a Signa.  Unlike last week when I did this, it appeared as if I was riding away from the rain, not toward it.  This, however would change with time.  There was a pretty strong head wind all the way out, well past Montelupo, until I turned toward Ortimino.  Anyway, from Lastra a Signa, I got on the main road and powered out to Montelupo, a pretty ride next to the Arno river.  At Montelupo, I navigated through town and over to the road that goes through Sammontana to Pozzole, where I turned on a more main road that climbs a river valley.

You stay on this road and eventually climb to Ortimino, then continue climbing along a spectacular ridge to Montespertoli.  I had hoped to start this ridge another valley over, climbing from Castelfiorentino, but it would have added around an hour, and I did not want to push the timing, as Emily and I are having dinner at Kate's and playing with the kids before dinner.  I was pretty happy with my pace and was feeling pretty strong on the ridge climb.  At Montespertoli, there is a fun descent to Bacciano, then another climb to Montagnana, then another descent to Cerbia.

I got more water in Cerbia, then climbed to Chiesa Nuova.  It started to sprinkle on me on this climb, but the sun also came out, and the sprinkling stopped before Galluzzo.  So, from Chiesa Nuova I went over the ridge then descended into Galluzzo.  I took the main road here up the Viale Michaelangelo, then went left down the wonderful curvy descent to Porta Romana, then through the city, teeming with tourists, then home.  Another fun ride.  The summary is 50.7 miles in 3:18 for an average speed of 15.3 with 2370 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 69.

Sort of flat - Montelupo, Sammontana, Montespertoli. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Looking up through vineyards in the valley around Sammontana.

A villa and vineyards from the ridge - opposite direction from the one below.

A villa and vineyards off the ridge below Montespertoli.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Climbing, training close to home. My first ever KOM!

I was planning on taking the day off today, as the weather was predicted to be bad.  It started true to the prediction, but by around 10, it was definitely clearing.  I got a surprise request for a tour on Friday, and thought I ought to be training and climbing to be ready for Firenze / Modena in two weeks.  So, off for a ride with lots of climbing in a short distance.  I started out through Piazza della Cure, then up the first back road to San Domenico.  For the first time ever, and I assume the last, I got King of the Mountain honors on Strava.  I watch it for personal bests and comparative times often now, and it is fun. but on most climbs, I am just scraping the bottom of the top third of the riders.  Well, I was very surprised when I downloaded to Strava and I had a KOM.  Not too many people ride up this hill, but I am still pretty stoked and proud.

From San Domenico, up toward Fiesole, then cut off down through Maiano, to Chiesa San Martino, then up the beautiful and pretty steep climb through Vincigliata.  At the road junction above Vincigliata, off to the right to cut over / down to the steep and thrilling descent to Compiobbi.  Lots of switchbacks and new pavement on the last third.  At Compiobbi, left on the main road for a kilometer or so, then turn off at Le Falle, and start the Monteloro climb.  Great climb as always, and although I thought with lots of effort expended yesterday, I wouldn't push it, I still recorded a personal best.  I continued climbing past Monteloro, to the junction with the road above Fiesole, then turned right and continued up toward L'Olmo.  I continued across / up to the junction with the Pratolino road where I turned left and descended into Pratolino.

I decided to take the back way over toward Monte Morello, and continued up that climb.  After a few kilometers, I took the steep, very back way down to the church above Cercina.  I had climbed this road once before, and this was my first descent here.  It was fun, but really quite steep.  At the junction with the road at the church, I took the first option down to Serpiole, then cut over the back way up around to above the Carriege complex.  Down from there, and I planned on the back way toward Via Bolognese, but the road has temporarily changed one way directions, with the construction on Via Bolognese, so I took the main way back toward Piazza Leopoldo, then home the way I normally return from grocery shopping.  Super fun ride in great, although windy, weather.  The summary is:  31.2 miles in 2:34 for an average speed of 12.1 mph with 3940 vertical feet of climbing at a sun affected temperature of 70.  I love being here and riding!

Close in climbing - Vincigliata, Monteloro, Pratolino by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Views and the road at the start of the Monteloro climb.

Loved the tree and view beyond at the start of the Monteloro climb.

The view from the gentle climb from L'Olmo to the 
Pratolino turn off.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Great ride and the Mille Migla!

I had a really fun, relatively hard ride this morning with the team.  I left the apartment around 7:30, which for me means getting up around 6 to leave time for yoga and eating.  We met in Tavernuzze at 8, and 8 of us took off.  We altered the published route for the day, and went through Greve to Panzano, where 3 of the 8 turned around for a much smaller tour.  5 of us kept going and descended from Panzano to the road to Radda.  I had not ridden up this road in many years, and it was simply wonderful.  Very nice road surface, almost no traffic, and a very reasonable grade.  We were in Radda before we knew it.  We re-grouped in Radda, then climbed over on the ridge road to Castellina.  another truly great piece of road.

We took a break in Castellina after re-grouping, Then headed to Poggibonsi.  I had not ridden down this road in around 10 years, and it is another spectacular ride.  Around 18 k, it is a very gentle descent, fast, and fun in a group of 5.  Luca led the way, and rides this route fairly often.  In Poggibonsi, we turned and headed up to Barberino in Val d'Elsa.  A famous European road race / tour for all kinds of sports cars, vintage to brand new Ferraris, was going through Tuscany today, and we joined the route here.  There is room for all, and some of the spectators that lined the road even clapped and cheered for our team as we rode up the relatively steep hill.

From Barberino, we rode through Tavernelle, then rode over to the turn-off for Romita, San Pancrazio, San Quirico.  This is one of my favorite ridge roads, and today it was perfect.  After San Quirico, we turned off to go through La Ripa, as the regular road is closed soon after San Quirico.  Down through La Ripa, then hooking up with the road to Cerbia just before the town.  In Cerbia, we re-grouped, an Luca turned off for Ginestra, then home.  The remaining 4 of us climbed to Chiesa Nuova, then over to the turn off for Scandicci.  3 of us took the road down to Scandicci, and one turned off in Scandicci.  Two of us continued back to Firenze, and finished our tour.  Really great day, and I felt good.  The summary is:  83.3 miles in 5:13 for an average speed of 16 mph with 5400 vertical feet of climbing at a sun affected temperature of 68.  Great ride.

Big ride with the team - Radda, Castellina, Pobbibonsi, Tavernelle by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The road from Panzano to Radda.  Beautiful, not too
steep, and almost no traffic.  Nice.

Looking toward the old center of Radda.

A couple of pictures of some old cars in the Mille Migla,
a big car race / tour in Europe.  The pictures are taken 
from the terrace of our apartment after returning from this morning's ride.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fun afternoon ride running from the weather.

I am planning a pretty big ride with the team tomorrow, but the weather was supposed to clear this afternoon, and I planned a 4 hour ride today.  The weather did clear, but some rain showers sort of followed me around, and suggested to me to change the plan, which I did.  I started out on the Viales, then out the Cascine and over on the back roads to Signa, then Lastra a Signa.  I stopped in Signa, as it started raining and there was perfect shelter.  I only waited around 10 minutes and started back up.  I changed the original plan here, as the weather in the direction of Montelupo looked ominous.  I decided to go up the little pass toward Ginestra.  At the top of the pass, I turned off and climbed over to Marliano, then over the highway, then descended on a different route to Ginestra Fiorentina.  It was a great route, and I will use it again, perhaps with clients.

From Ginestra, I took the road over to Bacciano, then climbed to Montagnana, then descended to Cerbia, then climbed to Chiesa Nuova.  Great climbs and descents all.  I am still hitting personal bests on around 1/2 to 2/3 of my climbs, and am finding joy in riding fast (for me) up hills.  From Chiesa Nuova, over on the ridge, then descending the switchbacks down to Galluzzo.  I almost stayed with a mercedes sports car on the descent!  At Galluzzo, I rode over to the cut off to Poggio Imperiale, then made that climb, then descended to the Viale Michangelo.  Descended on the Viale - I used to call this the "victory lap", as it is a beautiful tree lined street, curvy and fun.  From there, home the normal way on the Viales.

Good fun ride.  Tomorrow should beat me up a little, but as I am planning on the Firenze / Modena raduno on June 2, I need to step up the distance and climbing.  Firenze / Modena is 185 k with 10,500 vertical feet of climbing.  Today's summary is:  40.9 miles in 2:44 for an average speed of 14.9 mph with 2250 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 66.

Riding away from weather - plan b or c - still fun! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Two views to the south from Montagnana.  Yes, I was either
chasing good weather or running from rain showers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pratolino, Casellina, Vaglia, Faltona, Croci alla Vetta, L'Olmo, home.

I met with my daughter today to discuss a new business we are probably going to move forward on, finding Au Pairs / Nannies for people here.  Anyway, I had to be home by 12:30, and figured I had 3 hours max to ride.  I did a little bike maintenance, suited up, and headed out by around 9:45.  I did the ride I planned, but had not done this route before, so I pushed it.  Unfortunately I forgot to start the garmin computer and lost around 2 kilometers and around 70 vertical meters of climbing on the analysis.  I do have the descent number, and I rounded up the distance, so no problem.

I rode up Via Bolognese through Pian de San Bartolo, Montorsoli, and turned off in Pratolino.  I continued climbing from Pratolino over the the road through Casellina and Viliano to the western edge of Bivigliano.  I rode over and down to Vaglia.  I had taken Roger on this route a couple of weeks ago, and thought the descent into Vaglia was a blast.  Again today, it was super.  I counted the switchbacks today and came up with 18 - sweet!  I also really like the back road through Casellina and Villiano.  At Vaglia, I rode through town and connected with the main route toward San Piero a Pieve, and turned off after around 8 k to connect with the road that crosses over to the base of the climb of the Croci alla Vetta.  I got a phone call from Kate right after I started the climb, and I think the stop for a few minutes kept it from being a personal best on the climb.

It is a great climb, and for the first time ever, I rode the whole climb in the big ring.  I was pretty excited about this, as I had a steady head wind as well.  From the top of the pass, I rode down Via Faentina to Piazza della Cure, then over the railroad tracks and home.  Fun, fast ride.  I am really getting into and actually enjoying pushing my pace, in particular on the climbs.  Who knows when I will reach the point where it is not fun to push myself, but I will see.  The summary is:  35 miles in 2:11 for and average speed of 15.4 mph with 3215 vertical feet of climbing at an average (always sun affected) temperature of 75.

Fun, fast 2 plus hour ride - Pratolino, Vaglia, Croci alla Vetta by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

My picture here is not great, but the stonework and shape
of this building caught my eye when I stopped for more
water at a new location in Casellina.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Great client tour with Simpson and Allan.

I met Allan and Simpson at the bike shop where they were getting bikes at 9:30, and we started our day.  The weather forecast was for pretty perfect weather - sunny and a high around 73.  How nice.  After yesterday, it was great to see totally clear skies.  We took off and made our way on mostly bike paths over to the Cascine, and took the roads through the Cascine to the end of the park and then over to the main road toward Prato.  We turned off the main road quickly and made our way out the flat route to Signa, then through Lastra a Signa.  Both Allan and Simpson were pretty fit, but not avid cyclists, so a mellow tour with not too much climbing was the plan.  This route out of town is one of the few ways to leave Florence without either climbing or riding quite busy roads.

At Signa a Lastra, we turned off and climbed to small pass toward Ginestra.  They slowed down quite a bit, but were totally fine with the climb and had lots of energy.  Great!  We descended to Ginestra, then over to San Vicenzo a Torri where we took our first real stop for cafe and pastries.  We sat outside and enjoyed the food and drink, and discussed our options.  They were fast enough that we could add on a fair amount from the standard route I use over here, and started off an quickly turned off to climb to the ridge above the valley.  This is a pretty steep climb, but short, and they were great.  We continued riding up along the ridge stopping occasionally to take in the awesome views and take some pictures.  We stopped where the road ends and decided to ride more and I was hoping for San Pancrazio, but the road from Montagnana to San Pancrazio is still closed.  We rode up and over Montagnana to Bacciano, then took the valley road back down to Ginestra.

This is a pretty road and really mellow.  We stopped again in Ginestra and had a panini and water at a totally relaxed pace.  Outside, lounging in the sun, it was great.  We took the opportunity to fill our water bottles and rode the valley up to Cerbia.  We turned and rode up the valley to Chiesa Nuova, our last real climb of the day.  It was a pretty good route for them, as they were definitely tiring by the time we got to Chiesa Nuova.  We stopped there for a gelato, at a place I had heard was good but had never stopped for.  It was excellent gelato.   Simpson is a gelato fan and I shared a few of my favorite Florence gelaterias with her.  We then rode along the ridge / down to the steep switchbacks down to Galluzzo where we again regrouped.

We hooked up with the back way over to the Cinque Vie road and continued through Cinque Vie and climbed over to Pian de Giuliari, the last climb of the day.  It is a short climb, but at the end of the day, for clients, it can be a little hard.  We descended to Piazza Ferrucci, then took the bike paths by the Viale back to Florence by Bike and returned the bikes.  Great day Allan and Simpson.  Thanks for Riding with Cosimo.  The summary is:  47.9 miles in 4:39 riding time for an average speed of 10.6 mph with 2240 vertical feet of climbing at a sun affected temperature of 78.  Excellent day.

Fun tour with Simpson and Allan by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A short stop on the way toward Signa.

Allan climbing the pass on the way to Ginestra.

The view back toward Roveta from the ridge above Ginestra.

Climbing the ridge toward Montagnana.

An action shot of Allan and Simpson climbing toward Chiesa Nuova.

Great Giro tour!

On Sunday, I met new clients at the apartment to get them set up on my rental bikes and get started for a day with lots of riding, climbing, and watching the Giro.  I asked about rain gear before we started, as the forecast was for 60% chance of showers in the afternoon.  They had none, but I gathered an extra shell, vest, etc.  and we set off.  The day started perfectly with excellent weather.  We rode out through Bagno a Ripoli and climbed to San Donato in Collina.  This is a pretty good climb of around 1400 vertical feet, and I can use it to understand how fit the clients are.  They made it up the hill with no problem, and it was then game on for the tour I had planned.  My emails told me they rode quite a bit and were fit, but you never know.  Talking with the both, Reid participates in mountain bike races all summer in the sport division, and Renee runs marathons and half marathons, so no problem with the effort.

We descended from San Donato through Troghi, Cellai, and stopped in Palazzuolo for a cafe for Renee and I and a Coke for Reid.  We continued descending to the Arno valley, and turned to take the bridge over toward Lecchio.  We were at a decision point, and our speed and their fitness level made the discussion easy.  We rode over through Matassino and up to Castelfranco where we filled our water bottles and started the incredible road called Sette Ponte, or the road of seven bridges.  It is a super fun ride and it was beautiful today.  We stopped again in Regello and had a relaxed panini, then started to ride up toward the real climb of the day.  At Pietrapiana, you turn and go up quite a ways to Saltino.

We rode at a relaxed pace, which at least for me made the climb much easier than normal.  I explained that this would be the course the racers would descend upon.  We made it up to Saltino with plenty of time, and stopped for water and perhaps a pastry.  While getting the water, a policeman told me we only had 5 minutes of the road being open and I explained we wanted to go to Vallambrosa to watch.  We took off and made it over there.  We still had 2 hours until the racers were expected and I saw many cyclists continue to arrive, which matched my experience last year, but I did not want to argue with a policeman.

We found a great spot to watch and wait under a big tree, which would be helpful later.  Reid got us some sandwiches, and we settled in for our wait.  Watching one of the grand tours was in particular for Reid a long term dream, and this did not dissapoint.  It is a total circus, with vans going by playing music, selling stuff, which Reid bought a "Gro" packet of t shirt, hat, musette bag, and clapper.  We were around 3000 vertical feet above Florence here, and it was a little cool.  After an hour or so it started to sprinkle, but the tree kept us dry and good.  Also, the sides of the course were getting packed with spectators.  Around 15 minutes before the  racers arrived, it started to rain harder, and was pouring with a temperature around 50 when the racers arrived.  It was still really fun to watch them crank by after a difficult climb.  They were pretty spread out, and it took around 20 minutes for everyone to get through.  The faces of the racers were pretty intense - looking super tired, putting out all the energy they had, and in particular for the stragglers looking like they were totally beat and disgusted with the weather and cold.  It really was pouring rain at this time.

We waited for the circus to move away, and started our descent.  We had been up there for around 2 hours and our muscles were a little stiff and sore, not to mention cold.  Descending we all had some trouble with our arms shaking with chills, which would make the bike wobble, so we descended slowly and made it down fine.  I did wait around 4 times on the descent and at Tosi where the steep part of the descent is done for around 10 minutes.  It is a huge advantage to know the roads in this situation.  We continued descending and stopped in Pelago for some warmth and a cafe.  Much needed, in particular for Renee, who totally perked up after this stop.  We still had an hour of riding left, but the rain stopped after another 10 minutes or so, and we made it back into the ciry through Pontesieve, Sieci, etc. fine and in pretty good spirits.

Neither Reid nor Renee ever complained about the weather or cold, so they were great to take out there.  We returned to the apartment, took off their pedals, and they washed up a little, changed and were on their way back to Lucca.  Thanks for Riding with Cosimo Renee and Reid.  The summary is:  65.3 miles in 5:18 for an average speed of 12.6 mph with 5110 vertical feet of climbing at an average (sun affected) temperature of 70.  The Giro is fantastic!

Giro with Reid and Renee and some rain! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Reid and Renee at the gates to Castelfranco.

A great picture with Irises on the Sette Ponte road.

Renee and Reid climbing to Saltino.

Reid and Renee at the top of the climb in Saltino.

There is about an hour and one half of cars, promotions,
etc. before the racers arrive.  Here is one of the processions.
Also, before the rain arrived.