Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wonderful ride in the Chianti hills with Amanda and Justin.

Wow, it was quite a day.  I was to meet a couple at the bike shop at 10:30, as they were taking a bus in to Florence from a cruise ship docked in La Spezia.  I got to the shop, and there were around 30 French teenagers just arriving to rent city bikes for the day, without reservations.  Needless to say, the shop was scrambling and it was quite a zoo.  Justin and Amanda were late due to the bus, etc., and ended up arriving just as the last bike was set up for the group.  We got Amanda set up on a bike, and I had brought a bike for Justin to use.  They had to return by 3:30 to make their rendezvous point to return to their cruise ship, so that was a big factor in the ride.

We rode out past Piazzale Michaelangelo, and stopped for the amazing view and the obligatory pictures.  It is a great view of the city.  We then rode over and up to Poggio Imperiale, then down to Galluzzo.  We climbed to Impruneta, stopping in Monte Oriolo for a water refill.  Very sunny and pretty hot today.  We stopped in Impruneta for a cafe / beer / water / panini / insalata then continued the ride.  We rode down toward Ferrone, then took the climb through Luiano to the San Casciano road.  I discussed the possibility of riding over to Montefiridolfi with them, then decided it was not worth being close on time.

I decided we could go over to San Casciano, then skirt the city and descend to Cerbia, which was a good decision.  Great descent and a water break in Cerbia.  Up the final hill to Chiesa Nuova, and a stop for more water and a gelato at the top.  Back into town through Scandicci and return to the shop with 3 minutes to spare.  I am pretty compulsive about time, and was quite pleased to be so punctual.  They both rode well, and did well on the climbs.  They are avid cyclists, but are from Kansas, which does not have many hills, so they really performed well today.

Ride summary is:  37.4 miles in 2:59 rolling time for an average speed of 12.5 mph with 2600 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 99.  Great ride Justin and Amanda, and thanks for, "Riding with Cosimo".

Great ride with Amanda and Justin in the Chianti hills by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

You have to stop for the view and a picture at Piazzale Michaelangelo.

Amanda and Justin on the climb to Monte Oriolo.

Amanda on the road to Luiano.

Justin ride up toward Luiano.

Amanda and Justin on a beautiful day on the road between 
Mercatale and San Casciano.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Early morning ride with Jeff - Thanks for the business, Jeff.

I was up early this morning to take Jeff, the client I met yesterday on a fast morning ride.  Jeff needed to be back around 9, as he and his family had a tour guide for the city and museums set to pick them up at 10.  I had a couple of plans, and we ended up doing the longest plan.  Jeff was stronger climbing today, which allowed us to put in an extra climb on a beautiful road.

We started from the Westin Excelsior and went out of town through Porta Romana.  We picked up the nice, curvy climb from there, then jogged over to the final climb to Poggio Imperiale.  We descended to Galluzzo, then started the climb toward Impruneta.  Jeff was strong on the climb, and when we arrived at the top of the climb around Monteoriolo, we stopped and discussed options.  We could either keep going pretty hard and not have a cafe / pastry stop and get in another climb, or do a more casual pace, have a pastry and return.  Jeff picked the going harder / one more climb option, and we were off.  We turned off the Impruneta road and descended toward Tavernuzze through Baruffi on the super fun, tiny road I like there.  We made it through traffic and into Tavernuzze, and kept moving pretty good to the turn off for the day's hardest climb.

Jeff stayed strong on the climb through San Andrea in Percussina to the San Casciano / Chiesa Nuova road.  We kept it moving and stopped in Chiesa Nuova for some water at the most popular fontana around.  Nice, cold water.  Even early in the morning on a Tuesday there were 2 other cyclists there.  From Chiesa Nuova, we booked back into town enjoying the descent to Scandicci, then into Firenze.  Jeff was a confident city rider and stayed pretty much on my tail into town.  He asked about going to the shop instead of his hotel, which we did.  Good ride, and thanks Jeff for "riding with Cosimo".  Ride summary is:  27.4 miles in 2:07 rolling time for an average speed of 12.9 mph with 1940 vertical feet climbed at a wonderful average temperature of 74.  Maybe I should get up at 5:30 more often when it is hot.  Ciao.

Early morning ride with Jeff- Had him back in town on time. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Jeff on the road to Baruffi with Chianti in the background.

Jeff at the bike shop after our return.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Nice surprise - an unexpected client ride in the Mugello.

I had planned a day of errands, bike cleaning, etc, with a probable late afternoon ride, but while doing an errand at the shop, I ran into a person wanting a guide for a couple of days.  I was free, and with a little rearranging, I was back at the shop suited and booted ready to go in 45 minutes.  The client is Jeff, from Minneapolis, and he had a couple of hours, plus or minus to ride today and tomorrow.  He looked fit, had a full kit, bike shoes, etc., so I figured he was an experienced rider.  I decided we could try the direction of the Mugello today, and try Chianti tomorrow.  We took off by the apartment, then over to Le Cure, then up one of the back ways to San Domenico.  He was riding strong, and setting a pretty good pace on this short climb.

We hooked up with the road to Fiesole, and his pace slowed a little, and I adjusted my gearing to make the new speed work.  We were fine to the turn off and then enjoyed the descent to Chiesa San Martino, then started the Vincigliata climb.  Jeff is from a relatively flat area, and it became apparent on this climb.  He hung in there totally, but by the top of the climb, he was telling me that he only had maybe one more climb like that in him.  I decided to head over to the road from Fiesole to L'Olmo, as it is a totally mellow climb.  He was happy with that, and we stopped at the food truck at the junction.  We enjoyed some sport drinks and some Schiaciatta, and discussed our options.  Jeff opted to return to the city, as he has his family here and wants to spend most of the day with them.

We rode up and over to the junction with the descent into Pratolino, and enjoyed the descent to Pratolino where we got some water.  We then descended down Via Bolognese, and when almost back into town, the skies opened up and we were lucky to be at a spot where we could pull off the road and have some shelter.  We only waited around 5 minutes, and the rain pretty much stopped, and we finished the ride back to his hotel.  We are tentatively set for me to pick him up tomorrow morning at 7 am at his hotel for another 2 hour ride.  Fun ride today.  25.7 miles in 2:04 rolling time for an average speed of 12.7 mph with 2430 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 87.  Thanks for "riding with cosimo", Jeff.

Surprise - client ride to Vincigliata, L'Olmo, Pratolino, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

On the Vincigliata climb

After the Vincigliata climb.

A couple of photos of Jeff with Monte Morello in the background
on the road toward L'Olmo.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday morning con squadra.

Up early and off for a ride with the team this morning.  We had a group of 6, which is a fair amount for this time of year.  Here, most people are at the sea and now most are off on vacation soon.  We took of and rode a pretty normal route toward Lastra a Signa, but crossed back to Signa, then climbed to Carmignano which I had descended a few times but never climbed.  It was really nice this direction, and with a group of pretty strong riders, we rode pretty quickly up the hill, only stopping once mid-way up to re-group.  We got back together at Pinone, then enjoyed the descent to Vitiolini, then Empoli.  We found some water in Empoli, then continued back to Montelupo.  We rode the valley to Cerbia, then climbed to Chiesa Nuova.

At the water fountain at the top of the climb, we stopped, cooled off and refilled the bottles while we waited for everyone to finish the climb.  We hung there for a little, and around 10 to 15 more riders came by and enjoyed the water.  Some threw water at friends as they passed.  Basically a scene and a lot of fun at the top.  We returned through Scandicci, losing Chris at the base of the descent as he wanted to add more climbing.  Everyone gradually peeled off to return to their homes, and Leif and I stopped at Pasticerria Liberta for a cafe and a pastry.  Leif is off on a 4 week vacation in a few days.

Good ride everyone.  Summary is:  55 miles in 3:16 rolling time for an average speed of 16.8 mph with 2430 vertical feet climbed at a nice early morning average temperature of 82.  Ciao.

Sunday with the team - Signa, Pinone, Vitolini, Montelupo, Chiesa Nuova by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

4 of 6 at the top of the climb to Pinone.  Luigi was still on 
his way up.  

I dropped back a little and caught the group on the way to Cerbia.
Beautiful morning.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Excellent ride in the heat - still loving it!

I got started a little after 10 today, as yesterday was a fun, but long day.  We spent the day enjoying the beach with Kate, Nicco, and the kids, but left the apartment at 6:15 and did not return until 11:00 at night.  Anyway, a long enough day that I was not up early to ride in the relatively cool temperatures.  I picked today's ride based on getting some shade along with a favorite route.  I had narrowed it down to Sette Ponte and Dudda, and picked Dudda for more shade.  I enjoyed the climb up to San Donato in Collina from the city, through Bagno a Ripoli and Osteria Nuova.  I recharged water at the top, and remembered today to add some salt to the water to help with the heat and possible cramps.  I did forget the banana, though, but one out of two is ok for me.

I enjoyed the descent through Cellai, Le Valle, Pallazzolo, to Incisa, where I again did the water thing.  I rode over through Figline to start the climb to Passo de Sugame.  It felt really good, and as long as I kept moving the heat was not so bad.  I stopped in Dudda and got more water, but passed on the Cafe Machaito, as a warm drink did not appeal.  From Dudda, a little descent, then the final real climb to La Panca.  Again, it felt good, and I was ready for the descent to Strada in the shade.  Perfect descent, although I interrupted it with some pictures, still, pretty nice.  Good decision on the shade route.  The climb toward Passo de Sugame did not have as much shade as I thought, but it was no where near as exposed as Sette Ponte would have been.

From Strada, I decided on a different return route, and climbed to Impruneta, after doing the water thing in Strada.  A nice climb, not long and not much vertical.  I continued over / up / down to Monte Oriolo, then turned off for San Gersole and Vacciano where I had climbed two days ago.  It looks totally different on the way down, and was very fun.  That drops you almost right into Cinque Vie, then the back way over to the Viale, and return home.  Super fun.  46 miles in 3:13 rolling time for an average speed of 14.3 mph with 3430 vertical feet of climbing at a hot average temperature of 96.

San Donato, Dudda, La Panca, Strada, Impruneta, Vacciano, Cinque Vie, Firen by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Some good shade on the Passo de Sugame climb.

A nice view toward La Panca in the shimmering heat.  
Looks like a "Colorado" blue sky to me.

I enjoyed the shade on the descent toward Strada in Chianti
from La Panca.

More shade, beautiful road.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Return to Firenze - a ride in the Tuscan hills.

Back home yesterday after a super fun break in the Dolomiti.  Back on the bike here in Firenze, and off into the hills of Chianti.  I took off up past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then up to Poggio Imperiale.  I descended to Galluzzo, then took the road over to Cinque Vie so I could climb through Vacciano to San Gersole.  Always a fun climb.  I hooked up to the main road to Impruneta and finished the climb just above Monteoriolo.  I took the funky little descent through Baruffi down to just before Tavernuzze, then continued out on the main road to the Luiano turn off.

I am thinking about this route for some clients next Wednesday and wanted to get a handle of the timing.  With it taking me 4 hours, I may need to reconsider, or just skip the Montefiridolfi piece.  I enjoyed the Luiano climb, and just before I turned on to the road, a rider from the other direction turned on the Luiano road.  He looked fit, had a total kit, so I assumed he was Italian.  I was pretty surprised when I passed him in a couple of minutes, and he did not stay with me.  When I was behind, we were pretty much going the same speed.  Anyway, it makes an old man feel good to pass a fit young rider.  I will take all the ego boosts I can get.

I decided on the addition of the Montefiridolfi loop, although this may not be part of the client ride.  I just enjoy going to and through this little town.  I rode over on the ridge to Bibbione, then down to the valley before starting the climb to San Casciano.  I enjoyed the climb as always, although I was only 3rd on my best times.  Strava is a tough task master to get a personal best.  I returned home through Chiesa Nuova and Scandicci.  Another fun day in the Tuscan hills.  Very different riding than the Dolomiti.  I think there are so many more options here, a different kind of beauty, and more user friendly.  Most of the climbs I did in the Dolomiti were a minimum of 3000 vertical at a time.  Here, they can be steep, but most are not more than 1000 to 1500 vertical.  Fun no matter what.  Love it!

Back in Firenze - Chianti hills close in. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of photos within 1/2 kilometer of each other,
on the climb above Vacciano on the way to San Gersole.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dolomiti, day 3, shorter recovery? ride.

After discussing my ride yesterday with one of the staff here at the hotel, Stephanie, I realized there were 3 or 4 options from Ponte Gardena to Ortisei.  Chris, a friend from the team in Florence had recommended riding to Castelrotto from Ponte Gardena.  With both those comments in mind, and the desire for a shorter ride with less vertical, I came up with a plan for today.  I also made sure there was a descent into Ortisei at the end, although I needed to return the bike to the shop in the next town, which is a relatively gentle 250 meters of vertical or so.  When I got to the shop around 12:50, it was closed for lunch from 12:30 to 3, so I returned to the hotel, had a beer and lunch in town, then rode back up to Santa Christina.  So, to be accurate, you would need to add another 250 meters or around 850 vertical of climbing to the totals.

I enjoyed starting on a descent, as the legs needed some warming up.  A nice climb to St Peter next, with a steep start, but it mellows a little and is only 180 meters of vertical.  After St Peter, an incredible road kind of contouring / descending through a couple of small towns to Laion.  After Laion, a pretty serious descent to the valley floor.  Again, beautiful roads and scenery everywhere.  My research worked well, and I found all the connecting roads with no mistakes, starting what would be the most difficult part of the day.  The map warns of a stretch of 17% climbing to Castelrotto, and it was there.  I did put the garmin on the screen that shows % climbing, and with the exception of the 17% piece, it really stayed between 10 to 12% for around 800 meters of climbing.  Glad I picked  something like this for my "recovery".  Castelrotto is a beautiful town, and at this point you are close to where some of the Dolomiti formations rise.

A little descent from Castelrotto, then a climb through a postcard town called St Michael, to the passo Pinone.  An excellent final descent to Ortisei, then the climb to Santa Christina, which per above was repeated later.  I turned off the garmin and did not use it for the second climb, so add some for the final total.  Tomorrow I will be hiking, but I totally loved the riding here.  You have to want to climb and enjoy it, but I fit that description.  I can't say enough about how cool the riding was.  Hopefully I will do the Maratona de Dolomiti next June.  Ride summary:  31.8 miles in 2:52 for an average speed of 11.1 mph with 4780 vertical feet (34 miles and 5500 with the second trip to Santa Christina) at an average temperature of 82.

Day 3 in Dolomiti - Recovery ride? by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A rainbow from the deck at our room last night.

Pretty roads.

A view to the dolomiti from the St. Peter area.

Approaching Laion, starting the descent to 
the valley floor.

The dolomiti were in some haze with relatively high
humidity today.  Still, I give this a Wow!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dolomiti, day 2 - Passo Gardena, Passo Erba, Passo di Ores.

I did a more ambitious tour today, basically going around a large formation called Sassolungo.  To get around it, you end up riding around 120 k with I am guessing 12000 vertical climbed.  I know my garmin underestimates vertical, as when I did Firenze / Modena, it recorded 2680 meters climbed, and as it was a repeated Giro stage, it is know to be 3200 meters of climbing.  Also, a couple of friends do the same ride as I and come up with more vertical.  Whatever, it was a ton of climbing.  I am going to stick with my method from yesterday, and give a few observations of the day.

The brakes on the carbon wheels squeak, sometimes pretty loud.  I took the bike by the shop I rented it from to see if all was ok, and they referred me to one of their other shops, where the guy just said, "carbone - lots of noise is normal".  He assured me the pads did not need replacing, but I am keeping my eye on them.  Fun ride up to Passo Gardena, and the last 2 or 3 k, I had someone join me, who just stayed on my wheel, and peeled off at the top before any conversation.  I enjoyed the descent to Corvarra more than yesterday, as I am more used to the brakes now.  I did get behind a number of cars for around 1/2 the descent who were much slower than I wanted to go.

The ride down the valley to San Martino was nice, there is some terrain here that is mostly flat / downhill.  I found more after hooking up with the main road around Chiusa.  The climb up to Passo Erba was quite hard, and I had the elevation information of the start and finish, and knew I had around 1100 meters to climb.  It ended up being even more, as there was a descent of a couple of hundred meters in the middle of the climb.  The descent from Passo Erba was incredible.  Around 1/4 or less of the way down, there is a short climb of maybe 150 meters that takes you to another pass, Passo di Ores.  The overall descent just went on and on, with a super fun, little road.  For around 4 kilometers, it is on the side of this super green hill with views across the valley to the big formation, Sassolungo, which what I toured around.  I truly had to stop from giggling and fatigue in my hands.  Wow.

I knew I had to climb back to Ortisei, but looking at the map, I knew it followed a river and the portions I had been on were not steep.  I was hoping for 200 meters of climbing.  Well, it ended up being 700 meters of climbing, around 2400 vertical, with a portion of around 4 kilometers at what a sign said was 15%.  Needless to say, this really hit my energy.  I was able to stop and find some water at a hotel on the road, and that helped me recoup my energy.

That's all folks.  Overall, a truly wonderful tour, with I think the best descent of my life.  Wow.  Ride summary is:  71.5 miles in 6:06 rolling time for an average speed of 11.8 mph with 12000 vertical feet climbed (I am sticking with this estimate.  I tried enabling the correction feature on garmin and it came up with 26000 feet of climbing, which I am sure is not close to correct.) at an average temperature of 86.  Wonderful, tiring day.  Ciao.

Passo Gardena, Passo Erba, Chiusa, Ortisei. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

One of the views from Corvara, my first real stop after
descending from Passo Gardena.

The view one direction from Passo Erba, over
1100 meters of climbing from the turn off 
at San Martino.

I am riding down and along this beautiful little road,
when I look up and see this view.  It goes over 180 degrees,
but this is the best picture I got.

On the descent from Passo Erba and Passo di Ores, 
I had to stop from giggling.  Too fun, and my hands were 
losing strength.  Amazing descent and amazing views.

Looking back up the road, you can see why I was giggling.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 1 in the Dolomiti cycling like the fool I am.

Emily and I spent the day yesterday traveling to Ortesei, where we are spending 5 nights in a wonderful hotel.  We stayed here last year, and between the food (incredible), the service (personal and outstanding), and location we decided to return.  Last year I took a break from riding and hiked.  As I prepared for the trip this year, I found myself really wanting to ride the roads here, as they looked spectacular.  5 of my teammates took part in the Maratona de Dolomiti, which is right where we are, and they talked about how amazing the cycling is.  The also warned that it is truly either up or down, there is no flat riding or slight hills.  Well, I found out today that they were right.

I picked what I thought would be the easiest of my planned routes, but it was pretty tough.  Around 7000 vertical feet of climbing and 7400 descending (the bike rental was 400 feet higher than the hotel) in 45 miles made for a demanding day.  All in all, it was truly great.  I am recovered, have had a cafe and food, and am feeling tired, but great now.  The rental bike worked fine although the brakes were squeaky to say the least.  All 4 passes were tough, but super scenic and fun to ride.  The route is famous in cycling circles, and I saw many, many cyclists on the road.  Only the 3 Germans and one pro team passed me, though, which made this old man feel pretty good.  Rather than doing the usual description for the day, I thought I would throw out some of my favorite impressions of the day.

The views were simply incredible.  This place is awesome for scenery.  Right when I was thinking I would need to buy some water, I saw a beautiful fountain in Arraba, and met the 3 Germans who passed me on the Passo Pordoi.  The Passo Pordoi had a sign at the start for 33 switchbacks!  As you climb, you start to see little monuments for each switchback counting down to 1 from 33.  Only a full 180 degree minimum counted as a numbered switchback.  On the way up Passo Pordoi, a Cannondale team car passed me, then 4 cyclists riding behind a motorcycle who was obviously pacing them.  They passed me like I was standing still - that is what the pros do.

On the way down from Passo Pordoi, there were 26 numbered switchbacks, which let me know where I was in the descent.  The climb to Passo della Sella had 18 numbered switchbacks, and as my energy was flagging at this point, it was encouraging to see the countdown to the top.  I had read that the Passo Pordoi was called the "graveyard of champions" due to it's history in the Giro.  I now understand.  Well, basically a great fun day.  What a privilege it is to have the opportunity to live the life I am right now.  I am loving it.  Ciao.

45.5 miles in around 4 hours for an average of 11.5 mph with 7000 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 78.  Wow!

Sella Rondo - 4 pass loop in the Dolomites - tiring, but fun by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A view on the first climb to the junction for either
Passo Gardena or Passo Sella.

A view from Passo Gardena.

The view from Passo Campoluongo.

The fountain in Arraba.  I met 3 German cyclists there
and talked one into taking the picture.  Italian was the 
common language.

What a cool little hut at the top of the Passo della Sella,
Thankfully the last pass of the day.  I was getting beat 
right about now.  

A view back of the climb just completed at Passo Sella.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Super clients, super ride.

I had a long, warm, but good day yesterday guiding some clients from Indiana / Chicago here in Florence.  Two of the three had corresponded with requests for long, relatively hard rides, so I had some routes in mind from the requests.  I had emailed David a strava link for the ride I had in mind, and he suggested it might be a little too much for the ladies, so I had adjusted it to be a little shorter, but still, basically the same route.  Krista met me at the apartment and we set up one of my bikes for her.  We then rode over to the shop and got David and Ramona set up on rental bikes.  I discussed the probable route, and Krista said that we would see, that David and Ramona were the ones asking for the longer / harder route.

We started out getting out of town, then over toward Bagno a Ripoli, where after a short break to make sure everything was working fine, we started our first climb.  It became pretty apparent on the cimb that this route was not going to work for Krista.  She simply was not used to climbing and could not summon the energy to maintain climbing for a long stretch.  She was a great sport about it, but it was apparent it was not going to work.  We stopped at a water fountain, got some water and discussed some options.  I was scrambling, as the options I had in mind included at a minimum the entire first climb, and we were only around 1/3 the way up it.  Some things clicked, and I think I came up with a good option.

We desended from Osteria Nuova toward Grassina, then turned off to Ponte a Ema, where we took a little cafe break and discussed the day.  I was taking them on my normal "flat" route, which meant returning to town.  We accomplished the return going the nice back road from Ponte a Ema to Bagno a Ripoli, then hooked up with Viale Michaelangelo, climbing to Piazzale Michaelangelo.  We took a break there, enjoyed the views, and took some pictures.  Everyone was conscious of hydration, which was great as it was now getting toward noon, and the heat was setting in.  We skirted the city from there and enjoyed the twisty downhill to Porta Romana.  We crossed the bridge and were soon in the Cascine, finding water and taking a break.  We enjoyed the ride through the Cascine, and then out to Signa.  Krista was fine and pretty strong on flats and slight uphills, which worked out well.

From Signa, we went over to Lastra a Signa, then climbed the little pass to get over to Ginestra.  We stopped first in Signa and tried a bar which I had seen was always crowded and had some snacks and more water.  The climb was fine, but challenged Krista.  I got to use my skill, learned from my friend Don, of pushing Krista up some of the climb.  Even with the pushing, she still needed to walk around 1/4 of the climb.  We regrouped at the top, I was up and down a few times herding the group like a working ranch dog - thanks Sophia for the lessons in CB.  We enjoyed the ride across the top, then the descent into Ginestra.  We stopped in Ginestra for water, panani, a beer in my case and a good break.  We then rode over through the valley to Cerbia.  Again, Krista was quite strong in the flats, it is just the hills that got to her.

In Cerbia, we still had water from Ginestra, and started the climb to Chiesa Nuova.  We all rode pretty well to around 1/2 way up, then I started to help Krista with some additional pushing, then she simply needed to walk up the steeper portions.  It took us a while, but we made it up to Chiesa Nuova, some shade, some fresh, cold water, and some well deserved Gelato.  Krista had had about enough, but I assured her the hills were basically over.  We rode pretty strong together over to the turn to Scandicci, then enjoyed that descent.  We did a pace that kept everyone together through town to return to the bike shop.

Everyone was in good spirits and happy with their accomplishment for the day.  To Krista's credit, she never complained, only apologized for being slow on the hills.  No problem, the tour was for her.  So, by the end of the day happy clients and a good day.  It was quite hot, which only added to the difficulties, but we made it.  The summary is:  55.5 miles in 4:40 rolling time for an average speed of 11.5 mph with 2280 vertical feet of climbing at a scorching average temperature of 97.  Wow!

Great client ride with David, Krista, and Ramona. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Here we all are at the Piazzale Michaelangelo.  Beautiful day
with Florence and the Duomo in the background.

The group at a shade, drink, and nutrition stop in Signa.

David then Ramona and Krista starting the day's final climb.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Group ride with a birthday party - happy birthday, Derek

After Sunday's ride with Leif, Mark, and Derek, I suggested a ride and course for today.  Chris is back from some time riding in the Dolomiti and France, and he joined in.  We met in Settignano again, as this is Mark and Derek's spot, and the ride I had in mind went that direction.  We had a cafe in the town square, then got to riding.  We rode up the steep hill to the road over to the Fiesole / Olmo road, then we up the hill on that road.  Again, a pretty fast pace, although not as fast as Sunday.  Mark has raced 30 years or so, starting in his teens, and Derek is a former top level pro, and Chris is posting some pretty impressive results in the Gran Fondos in Europe this summer.  What I was doing hanging on to this group is questionable, but it is good to be pushed, I did not seem to hold them back much, and it was good for me and fun at the same time.

We climbed up to the Alberaccio pass, then descended toward Molin de Piano, but took off left to ride through Santa Brigida, Fornello, and Doccia, to the turn off at the windmill.  We refilled with the good Santa Brigida water, I poured a couple bottles worth over my head, then we were off.  At the windmill, we took the descent to Montebonello, right next to Rufina, then turned up the valley for the Acone climb.  I think this is one of the hardest climbs I do, and it was difficult as always.  Leif climbed with a 34 / 25, so even though he is definitely stronger than I, he brought up the rear.  Everyone reached the top in good spirits, and we took a short break and did the water thing (head dousing and bottle filling), then headed down the super fun descent to Rufina.  Leif lead us to his favorite cafe there, and we ordered cafe and Leif arranged for a beautiful torta with fruit with a candle as it was Derek's birthday.

We enjoyed the pastry and cafe, sat around doing some bike chatting, then took off to climb to Diacetto.  One of my favorite climbs, everyone enjoyed it today.  Derek and Mark needed to get back to their families, so they decided to descend directly from Diacetto, and Leif joined them.  Chris and I descended over to Pelago, the back over to the road down to Pontesieve.  I just think this is a much more pleasant road and descent than the direct way, but I totally understand that family committments come first.  If you don't respect the family committments, the riding gets pinched, and everything deteriorates, so here's to the guys for taking the direct route home.  I did my best to stay on Chris' wheel from Pontesieve in, although he had to drop his speed and wait once.  We stopped in Sieci for more water, some shade, and a head soaking.  Powered in to Firenze from Sieci - a great day for a ride in Toscana.  Summary:  54.8 miles in 3:43 rolling time for an average speed of 14.7 mph with 5066 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 87.  Ciao.

Destination Acone - good group with Leif, Mark, Chris, and Derek by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I let the group get ahead of me to take a couple of shots
between Fornello and Doccia.  All it took to let them get ahead
was not trying close to my hardest.  Fast group!

An impromptu birthday party at one of Leif's favorite 
spots for cafe and pastry in Rufina.  Happy birthday, Derek.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday solo ride through Monteloro.

I did some errands, then Emily and I went into town for a cafe and ended up doing some shopping.  I am not a good shopper, in particular when shopping for clothes for me.  I have lost enough weight that most of my "nice" pants really don't fit, and are not very wearable.  We are off for a break to the Dolomites on Friday and are splurging on a very nice hotel where we stayed last summer.  Anyway, I could use some presentable pants for the trip.  There was a big sale at Coin, a department store in the centro, and we found a couple of pairs.  I guess that is the long way to say I did not get started riding until around 2:15, and it was already pretty hot.  Being a Colorado mountain boy, I will probably need to redefine hot, but it was hot to me.  I have some things I need to do tonight, so I decided on a 2 hour or so ride.

I have not ridden the main route to Fiesole much, and with the new paving for the World Championships, it was very nice.  I did a personal best as well - maybe the new pavement makes you faster as well.  From Fiesole, I climbed to the road over toward Montebeni, and then descended to Compiobbi, a sweet descent.  A kilometer or two on the main road, then the turn to take the Monteloro climb.  Always a favorite, and riding my old bike was different.  I enjoyed the climb and really enjoyed soaking my head and drinking lots of water in Monteloro.  I continued up to the Olmo road, then turned left and descended to Fiesole.  Another head soaking, more water, then the descent to Pian de Mugnone.  I was hoping for fresh pavement all the way, but there are a couple of spots where new curb and gutter is being installed, and the new pavement will wait for that to be complete.  Either way it is kind of fun to ride the course that the best pros will be riding in the Worlds in September.  Back home through Le Cure.

Another fun ride here in Tuscany.  The summary is:  26.8 miles in 1:58 rolling time for an average speed of 13.6 mph with 2600 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 93.  Ciao.

Solo - Fiesole, Compiobbi, Monteloro, Fiesole, Pian de Mugnone by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A super view around the monastery on the way to Monteloro.

A nice, shady piece of road on the climb to Monteloro.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Great morning group ride with Leif, Mark, and Derek.

Through emails from a couple of team members, I was set to meet with Leif and a couple of people I had not met for a ride this morning.  I set up my old bike and set off for Settignano for the meeting and start of the group ride.  Mark and Derek were having a cafe in the town square and I joined in.  Leif was along soon, and we all started on our ride.  The climb from Settignano is quite steep, but everyone handled it with no problems.  We joined the road over toward Fiesole at Montebeni, and picked up the pace and got to know each other a little.  I found out Derek had ridden professionally at the highest level, competing in one day classics such as Paris / Roubaix.  I enjoyed talking with him and we discussed what it was like to race at that level, the talent level of the athletes, and inevitably the doping issue.  He had not done any of the doping, which limited his results and the type of races he could do.  It appears that Tyler Hamilton's book is pretty representative of the scene.

Anyway, Mark and Leif set a fast pace up to Vetta alla Croce, where we turned off toward Bivigliano, then turned again for the Montescenario climb.  Again, a pretty darn fast pace on the climb, but we all stayed together pretty well.  At the top, we discussed some options, and all decided on my suggestion.  We descended from Montescenario through Bivigliano, then did the wonderful descent to Vaglia.  Sweet.  We rode down from Vaglia toward San Piero a Sieve at a super fast pace, around 50k, and took the tunnel and the road over to the start of the Vetta alla Croce climb from the Borgo San Lorenzo side.  Again, a very fast pace, which allowed me to get a personal best.  We all stayed together until Polcanto and Mark and Derek left Leif and I and continued hard up the hill.  Leif and I continued pretty darn hard as well, just not as fast as the other two.

We regrouped at the top of the pass and decided to go over to Alberaccio, then descend to Sieci through Molin de Piano.  Again, a fast but fun pace.  From Sieci, we rode back into Firenze on the main road.  We branched off toward Settignano, and Leif found a wonderful place he knows for a pastry and cafe.  Super good pastries, still hot, perfect.  Great cafe as well.  After some nice conversation we split up and I returned home.  I may hook up with Mark and Derek again, we shall see.  Either way, it was very fun to ride with them.  One of the fun things about riding is the "brotherhood" that forms riding with new friends.  Summary is:  52.5 miles in 3:27 rolling time for and average speed of 15.2 mph with 4170 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 81.  Great morning.

Great group ride with Mark, Derek, and Leif by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Leif, Derek, and Mark at Montescenario.  Great climb, ragazzi!

A view of the final piece of the ride to Montescenario.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday morning with the squadra. Fun.

I was up quite early this morning to join in a team ride.  It has been a couple of weeks, and I wanted to get out with some of the team.  This time of year, due to the heat and it being July and August, the numbers for the rides are a fair amount lower, and this morning there were 5 of us, one new person I had not met before.  Moreno took charge of the route, and we rode through Lastra a Signa, to Montelupo.  In Montelupo, we crossed under the railroad tracks, then over the Arno, and took the mostly flat, pretty main road through Empoli to Vinci.  Right before Vinci, I broke a spoke.  We stopped for a bit, as I figured out how to secure the spoke so I could finish the ride.  From just before Vinci, we turned off and rode some very rolling, nice terrain to Lamporecchio.  I am pretty sure I have descended this before, but I had never ridden up here.  It was quite nice.

From Lamporecchio, we continued on rolling terrain, finally climbing to Cerreto Guidi.  Here was started a  nice descent back to the road through Empoli to Montelupo.  From there, back more or less the same route to Florence.  We stopped in Scandicci to visit Davide, who has been off his bike for 8 months or so after a hip injury in a collision with a car.  The car ran a stop sign, but Davide is a totally avid cyclist, and being off the bike this long is really tough for him.  It sounded like he was doing spinning at a gym and was hoping to be back on the road with us in a month or two.  Back into town, I dropped my bike at Florence by Bike, but the mechanic was off until Monday.  I returned home on foot, and got the lightspeed ready for my ride tomorrow.  Not too bad when you have extra bikes if something goes wrong.  I do have a tour on Wednesday, so I hope my number 1 bike is fixed by then.  It should be done Monday.

Today's ride was 61.9 miles in 3:44 rolling time for an average speed of 16.5 mph with only 1260 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 79, and we started riding around 7 am.  Ciao.

Saturday morning with the team - Lamporecchia, Cerito Guidi by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Yesterday, I had to wait to shower, as a water main broke
right below the apartment when the final repaving was
in progress on Via Bolognese.  Quite a cluster ####.

The group ahead of me on the team ride this morning.
This is around Signa a Lastra.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Another alternate Giro de Mugello.

After a couple of days at the beach with Kate and family, which were quite wonderful, I am back in Firenze and back on the bike.  While I was gone, a friend put a friend of his who is visiting Firenze in touch with a few folks from the team, and we are meeting for a ride on Sunday.  We are meeting in Settignano, which I have descended through many times, but I never really registered the piazza where we are meeting.  So, I decided to find the meeting place and plan my ride from there.  I checked out the route on Google maps, and found the piazza pretty easily.  I had not ridden the main route to Settignano before, but it is a reasonable road to ride, not too steep.  From Settignano, I climbed to Montebeni on a pretty tortuous road which my Garmin device recorded at 28% in places.  After Montebeni, I enjoyed the route over to the road from Fiesole to Croce alla Vetta, then up to Croce alla Vetta.

I descended from the pass, and turned off before Polcanto to climb, then descended down to the valley around Borgo San Lorenzo through an alternate valley.  It is a steep descent, and goes through a couple of towns on a very quiet road.  After it hits a beautiful valley, the road levels out a bit, but also becomes pretty rough.  I joined the road in the main valley, then rode over to Vicchio, then the back road to Dicomano, one of my favorites.  I found water in Dicomano, then headed out toward Rufina where I turned off to ride the quiet road on the west side of the Sieve river.  On the way to Rufina, I rode with a couple of different people and it helped with a pretty steady headwind.

From Rufina, I enjoyed the "Popes road" to Pontesieve, then battled a headwind back into Firenze.  It was quite hot on the way back, and I stopped in Rufina, then in Sieci for water refills.  Great ride, hot, but super fun.  53.6 miles in 3:42 for an average of 14.5 mph with 2630 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 91.  Ciao.

Settignano, Croce alla Vetta, Saliole, Dicomano, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A line of trees on the road above Settignano.

The belltower in Sieci.  I love the stone work on this 
tower.  I took the picture from my last water break.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sette Ponte fun!

As I have a couple of days coming up at the Beach with Kate and the kids, I got another reasonably long ride in today.  I seem to always have one particular part of the ride in mind when I design my route.  Today, that was the Sette Ponte road, which is a real favorite of mine and a favorite of many local riders.  It is simply a wonderful road twisting, turning, a little up, a little down, but basically fast for around 12 kilometers.  It did not dissapoint today.  After feeling a little out of it for a portion of my ride yesterday, I resolved to hydrate even more today.  Yesterday, I drank around 1 gallon of water over 3 hours, but it was not enough.  It appeared to work, as I did not have any "down" spell, and it was hotter than yesterday.

I started out going by the shop to clarify rentals for a client ride next Wednesday, which was a good thing as there was some confusion between the shop and the client.  Hopefully it is all set now.  I ended up going out the viales then over to Bagno a Ripoli on my normal route.  From Bagno a Ripoli, there is a pretty steady climb to San Donato in Collina.  A great descent follows only broken by a 40 vertical meter climb just before Palazzolo.  I turn off to catch the bridge over the Arno, then climb on the other side to the turn off to Mattissino.  You descend a bit, then ride flats, climbing a little until you get around 2 kilometers from Castelfranco.  Then there is a short real climb followed by the Sette Ponte road.  By this time, I had already refilled the water bottle 3 times and soaked by head and helmet as well.  As I said above, Sette Ponte was perfect, then I stopped in Regello for a slice of pizza, cold, and a cafe machiato.

Refueled, I climbed then descended to Donnini, then did the final real climb to Tosi, another favorite of mine.  A super descent from Tosi to just before Pelago follows, then a short climb to Pelago.  After Pelago, more descending to Pontesieve, then a push into Firenze for around 20 k on a mostly flat road.  Another great ride here in Tuscany.  Remember I am here to guide you should you want to ride with Cosimo.  62.6 miles in 4:06 for an average speed of 15.3 mph with 4050 vertical feet of climbing at a pretty hot average temperature of 94.  I am thinking this will be the route for some clients next Wednesday.  Ciao for now.

Sette Ponte via San Donato, Castelfranco, Donnini, Tosi, Pelago by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of pictures on the way up to San Donato
in Collina, the first climb of the day.

A monastery just before Castelfranco.  For some reason
I had never noticed it before.  

The beginning of the Sette Ponte route leaving Castelfranco.