Sunday, May 5, 2013

Giro del Mare

I was up early this morning to meet with the team at 7:30 for a ride to the sea, Cecina.  The group was surprisingly large, and we started with 12.  We rode a pretty nice, relatively easy pace, as a long day awaited us.  We rode through Lastra, then over the small pass to Ginestra, then turned off to ride the valley, then the climb to Montespertoli.  We took a short break for a coffee, bathroom, etc., and then set off down the ridge through Ortimino, then down to Castelfiorentino.  A couple of the group split off here to return to Firenze, which had been their plan all along.

Ten of us continued down the valley through Pillo, then started the gradual climb through Gambassi to Castagno Val D'Elsa.  We re-grouped here after a pretty long climb, and started the long gradual descent to the valley below Volterra.  We turned left here, as the right turn also took you to Volterra, but there was a good chance of mudslides and closures on that road.  I had ridden that road 7 or so years ago, and it was great to ride new roads.  We rode up a very beautiful road in a valley, and stopped at a small store before the real climb to find some water.  We had to buy some bottles of water here, then started the hardest climb of the day.  It was also a very beautiful road, with many switchbacks, and around 1500 vertical feet at an average grade (my guess only) of around 10%.  The group definitely split apart here, and I surprised myself by staying with Luca, with only 2 others in front of us.  It appears I am getting stronger - thanks to Roger for kicking by butt 4 days in a row a week ago.

We took a break and regrouped in Volterra, then had to navigate through a large Saturday market to get to the road that descended to the valley below.  We stopped at the bottom of the descent in Saline de Volterra, found some water at a fountain, and looked for a cafe / bar for a coffee, but did not find one open.  We took off, and headed the last 40 to 45 kilometers on a pretty flat, slightly descending road to Cecina and the sea.  As we got close, Alessandro Conti took the lead and showed us the way.  He has a spot in a "camping area", which is a really nice family area with campers, small buildings with kitchens, etc, with a "tent" over them.  After he led us to the sea, Paolo stripped down to his shorts only and ran into the sea for a short swim.  It was pretty brisk there, and he was the only one to swim.  We followed Alessandro to the camping spot, and had a spot to was, change if you brought extra clothes, and met Lia and Brienne, a couple of wives who had brought some extra clothing for some.

We ordered and set up for a group pasta feast at Alessandro's camp spot, and enjoyed a fun meal with excellent camaraderie.  After finishing the meal, we discussed trains for our return, and a couple of guys took off for a 3:30 train, but most of us stayed for a slow, relaxed exit, including a tour to the small "boardwalk" area of Cecina, and gelato.  We got to the train station, purchased tickets, and made our way back to Firenze.  What a fun day.  My thanks to all who participated and made it happen.  The summary is:  78.6 miles in a rolling time of 4:59 for an average speed of 15.8 mph with 4750 vertical feet climbed at a perfect average temperature of 73.  A prossimo.

Ride to the sea with the team via Volterra by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

An action shot of the team starting out on the
way to Lastra a Signa.

Volterra in on the top of the ridge in the distance.

Starting the descent to the valley below Volterra, 
on the ridge in the distance.

The group at the sea, minus myself and Alessandro,
who was also taking a photo.

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