Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gran Fondo Firenze 2014 course preview.

I did some errands this morning, thinking I would wait for the weather to warm up.  I was quite surprised by how warm it was when I was out, and I decided I would do a long ride and try to preview the gran fondo route in March.  By the time I got riding it was a little past 11, and the ride is difficult and I was sure it would take somewhere between 4-1/2 and 6 hours.  If it had been 6 hours, I would be returning when it was getting dark, so I kept my eye on the clock for the first 1/3 of the ride before the descent to Firenzuola, when I was committed to the whole ride.  It was a difficult ride, and I rode it in less than 5 hours although I had not trained at all for it  I did skip a flat part of the route around the lake by Barberino in Mugello, and altered both the start and finish a little, but basically rode the course.  The two big passes were great.

I started riding directly up Via Faentina to Vetta alle Croce, then down to the valley of the Sieve river by Borgo San Lorenzo.  I headed up to Scarperia, then started the new portion of the ride.  It is quite a good and scenic climb from Scarperia to Passo del Giogo, but was not steeper than 8% or so, so it was fine to ride.  At the top, I already had around 1200 meters of climbing in, and realized that the course had lots of climbing.  I really enjoyed the descent to Firenzuola.  What a fun, twisting road with a pretty good surface, and with the exception of one part where there was a 50 meter vertical climb, it was a sweet cruise.  All the way to Firenzuola, I fought a pretty strong headwind, but realized that it would help me on the way home when I really needed it.

Firenzuola is a beautiful little town, and I forgot to get a picture, as I was pretty focused on eating, drinking and keeping myself moving.  A nice slightly uphill cruise through a valley for 5 kilometers or so awaits, then the road gets quite steep for around 3 to 4 kilometers.  Various signs warn you 14%, 12%, 15%, 10%, 13%, 15%, and it felt accurate.  After this part of the climb, you connect with another road, and most of the climbing to Passo della Futa is done.  Around 100 vertical meters is left in around 3 kilometers.  I stopped at the bar / restaurant at the top and had a much needed cafe.  Back on the bike and a fast descent down to the Sieve valley again, before starting the climb to Vaglia.  I was concerned about cramping on the Vaglia climb and drank lots of water and fed myself a few times, which was needed.  No cramps, and then the descent into the barn from Pratolino.

Fun day, hard, with a fair amount of new roads for me, lots of climbing, and good weather.  What more could you ask for.  This puppy is pretty beat now, but I wanted to finish this before the eventual crash.  67.9 miles in 4:55 rolling time for an average speed of 13.8 mph with 7,277 vertical feet of climbing (I said there was lots of climbing) at an average temperature of 59.  Great fall day.

Vetta alle Croce, Scarperia, Passo del Giogo, Firenzuola, Passo Futa,Vaglia by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

This view is to the East from the top of the Passo del Giogo.

The view to the North and the start of the road toward
Firenzuola from the top of the Passo del Giogo.

The first of two big passes today and the sun came out as I arrived
on top, although it was a little chilly up there.

After a difficult climb, the last big pass of the day.

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