Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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.

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