Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trial run for the gran fondo - one mistake adds some distance and vert.

I got an early start - relatively - and was at Piazza Liberta around 9:30 as I posted on the team page that I was riding the long course for Saturday if anyone wanted to join in.  I had a couple of messages from people who could not go, so I did not expect anyone.  I took off by myself at 9:40.  I rode out on the Viales past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then dropped down the direct route to Galluzzo.  From Galluzzo through Tavernuzze, then the climb to San Casciano.  Descending from San Casciano to the valley was great.  I had not descended this route before, and it was a screamer but no need to apply brakes - perfect.  Once in the valley, you stay at the valley floor and gradually climb to Sambuca, then climb to San Donato in Poggio.  Here, you stay on the ridge and continue climbing for quite a while, which includes a fair amount of vertical, to Casellina in Chianti, which has a little descent on the way into town.  You then descend / climb / descend / climb over to Radda in Chianti, where I was looking for a road I had ridden years ago that returns down to the valley below Panzano, then climbs to Panzano.

I did not have my map - bad me - but remembered the general direction.  I took off that way, descending down a steep piece (with warning signs for the steepness), then started climbing steeply up a hill.  This did not seem right, but I thought I was going the right direction and did not want to climb back to Radda.  I continued climbing, at times again, quite steeply (with more steepness warning signs) until it appeared that I was not going the right direction.  I turned around and inquired at a winery, where they were super helpful and gave me a map.  I was right about the general direction I wanted to go, but to get to the road you go the opposite direction in Radda, then do a roundabout, then go back under the road I was on.  Oh well.  The person at the winery and the map showed that I could continue on the road I was on (more climbing) and then descend to Lucolena, joining the road to Passo de Sugame just below Dudda, which I did.  I had often thought about riding this road and had seen it many times on the climb from Figline to the Passo.

It was an interesting and fun detour, and I decided to climb from Dudda to the turn off for La Panca, then over the back road to Strada in Chianti, where I would re-join the regular route.  I stopped in Dudda at a small bar and had a Caffe Machiato and a pastry, which felt great.  I may have already developed the taste for coffee, as it tasted good and really gave me some energy.  For me, definitely a performance enhancing drug.  It was cold going into Dudda, and the break really changed my perspective.  I enjoyed the climb to La Panca, and definitely the descent from there to where it joins the main road just before Strada.  From Strada, I took the main road down the ridge, and descended into Grassina, where I detoured to Cinque Vie, then over the back way to Piazza Ferruci, then home.  Fun, but tiring day.  The garmin link is below, but the summary is:  70.2 miles in 5:27 rolling time for an average speed of 12.9 mph with 6350 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 43.  

I loved this old stone barn on the way to Casellina.

A couple of pictures around the top of the climb to Casellina from San Donato.
The snow on the sides of the road and the pine trees reminded me of Colorado.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nice Tuesday with wonderful weather - finally!

Tuesday is errand day for me, as Emily babysits all day, and I try to do some good things at home.  I did a quick trip to the COOP, our grocery store, then the butcher, and the bike shop.  The bike shop has a 50% off sale, and I wanted an option for rain and warmth other than my beloved Gore-tex shell.  I found one that appears will work well, and easily packs into a rear jersey pocket, which was another requirement.  After returning, I gave a weekly clean up a couple of hours, and then was off for a ride.  I pick up Viola after school on Tuesdays, so I only had a couple of hours.  It did not matter as I am planning on a test ride of the Saturday gran fondo long course tomorrow and wanted to go small today.  

I left by way of the Viales, then climbed past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then rode to Poggio Imperiale.  From there, I descended to Galluzzo, then started toward Pozzolatico, but turned off on the back road to Cinque Vie, which is a very nice little used, relatively flat road that takes you almost to the base of the climb I wanted.  I climbed up to San Gersole through Vacciano, then continued climbing through Monte Oriolo and turned off to descend through Baruffi to just North of Tavernuzze.  From Tavernuzze, I took the main road back to the Viales and enjoyed the cruise past Piazzale Michaelangelo and returned home.  The summary is:  23.4 miles in 1:42 rolling time for an average speed of 13.8 mph with 1600 vertical feet climbed at a wonderful average temperature of 56.  Ciao.  

I have ridden by this church many times, but never really noticed.  Today,
the light and color caught my eye and I loved it.  
Below is the road below on the climb through Vacciano.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fun relatively easy ride, weather improving, I hope.

After posting my ride from yesterday, I was ready for a ride today.  Forecast for only 60% chance of rain, and it had already rained, so I thought, maybe it would be perfect.  Well, it rained on me on the way out of town, but that was it.  So, all in all, relatively nice weather for riding.  A little humid, and an average temperature of 49, but really fine.  I started out on the Viales and turned off at the Cascine, the biggest park on the edge of the old part of Florence.  At the west end of the park, you can jog over and with a small amount of busy road, get back to little used roads all the way to Lastra a Signa.  Thanks Leif for showing me this route a while ago.  I now use it for an easy ride that is not too short.  

From Lastra a Signa, you climb to a small pass around Malmantine, then descend into Ginestra Fiorentina.  At Ginestra, you turn left a follow a valley road to Cerbia.  On the way, I stopped for a caffe, which is new for me.  I have been experimenting with coffee occasionally in the last month, and am starting to develop a taste for it.  I think most clients who come to Italy want a caffe when they ride, and I wanted to be able to join in.  It is also a big part of the culture here, and it is good to try to be a part of things.  Well, this is the first time I have done this mid-way through a ride, and at least for this rookie, that is a performance enhancing drug.  Boy, did I have some energy for the second half of the ride.  It was fun, and I will probably do it more as time passes.  

From Cerbia, you climb one of my favorite climbs up through a beautiful valley to connect with another road at Chiesa Nuova.  From Chiesa Nuova, you descend / traverse over to a great descent with many switchbacks and relatively new pavement to Galluzzo.  At Galluzzo I turned off on the road to Pozzolatico, and turned again to take the Cinque Vie route around to Piazza Ferruci.  From there, an easy crank home.  35.1 miles in 2:29 rolling time for an average speed of 14.1 mph, with 1570 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 49.  A dopo.  (Later)  Ciao! 

A couple of views from around the top of the climb around
Malmantine.  It looks a little cloudy, but the weather
really is improving.  I had some sun while riding!

Sunday ride with changing weather

Well, with weather and a little bout with an intestinal bug, I have not posted or been out riding for a few days.  I awoke feeling much better, but it was in the mid 30's and raining lightly, so I opted out of the team ride, which would have been long as I would be doing the whole route for the gran fondo that comes up Saturday.  I waited for the weather to get better, finished a book, then took off for a short ride.  It felt great to be back on the bike.  It had only been 3 days off the bike, but it felt like a while.  Showers started almost as soon as I started, but I expected this and was dressed appropriately.  I took a different route from Piazza della Cure to San Domenico, which was fun.  There are 4 or 5 options for this 350 to 400 vertical climb, and variety is good.  I climbed from San Domenico to the Maiano turn off then descended through Maiano to San Martino chiesa, where I started the Vincigliata climb.  

Toward the top of the climb, I started seeing snow, and after taking the turn toward Fiesole, the snow on the ground increased.  The sun had returned and it was not snowing now, but there were really dark clouds to the northwest.  As I turned on the ridge road and descended toward Fiesole, the snow on the ground increased dramatically with the different exposure, with around 4 to 5 inches on the ground by the roads.  I descended to Fiesole, and the snow was absent there.  I took the turn and descended to the Mugnone then continued descending to Via Salviati.  I took the right turn here and did the short but quite steep climb to Via Bolognese.  This climb is included in the gran fondo, after 125 kilometers of riding, and I wanted to give it a shot.  Well, it is a little cruel, and I would guess it averages around 20% for 300 vertical feet - Ouch!  I descended on Via Bolognese to a little road that takes you back toward Piazza della Cure, then took the sottopassegiata to Via Faentina, then home.

Super variable weather, with showers, sun, grey skies, almost black skies and snow flurries alternating for the entire ride.  I love getting out, though.  It simply makes me a happy person.  Ciao.  Summary is 14.5 miles in 1:23 rolling time for an average speed of 10.4 mph with 1950 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 44.  Click the link below for more information.

The Chiesa San Lorenzo de Vincigliata, around 1/2 up the climb.

The climb above the church and the road below, just climbed.  
What a beautiful spot, even in the grey, rainy weather.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fun, short ride close to home with lots of climbing.

Another busy day, as Emily and I met some folks who have been here 9 years on a visa the same as ours.  We collected information about what we need to do to stay legal, and a number of other things of importance to us as expats.  So, I started with only a couple of hours available, as we planned on attending a lecture at Stanford here in Florence on Leonardo, Brunelleschi, and the development of machines.  It was cold and cloudy, and the forecast called for 50% chance of showers, so I decided to stay close to home.  I climbed up Via Bolognese to the tiny road to Cercina.  I turned toward Cercina and as always enjoyed the contouring / climbing road through Cercina to the church above the town, which is the high point of the roads in this area.  I took the far right option there for a wonderful descent.  I have been getting to know this descent quite well, and it has become a favorite.

At the base, I turned left, then left again, and climbed back up to the church above Cercina.  I checked it and it climbs 330 vertical meters in right around 3.4 kilometers, averaging around 10% grade.  It certainly felt that way today.  From the top, I descended again, this time on the second from the farthest right option.  A fun descent, quite steep in places, but now as nice as the first road.  At the bottom of this descent, I take a road that brings you in right above the Carriege complex, then ride the main roads home.  Another fun ride.  The summary is:  20.3 miles in 1:42 rolling time for an average speed of 11.8 mph with 2400 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 46.  Ciao!

A couple of views of the road and area on the way to Cercina from Via Bolognese.

Nice 2 hour ride to the South.

Emily was babysitting all day, and I had a slow start, as I consumed a little too much wine at a beautiful event at San Marco last night.  It was a benefit for a great organization here called "Friends of Florence", which raises money to restore and preserve some of the great art here.  What an amazing event / dinner in the old refectory of the monastery.  Wonderful food, and people refilling your wine glass all the time.  Anyway, a little extra wine for me and I was slow getting started.  I also cleaned the apartment, and ended up getting out around 12:30 and had to be back by 3 to get ready to pick up Viola at school.  

When we stayed in the Altrano all the time, I often did this ride as a short alternative.  I climbed past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then up to Poggio Imperiale, then descended to Galluzzo.  From Galluzzo, I climbed the old road to Pozzolatico, steep but beautiful and very quiet, then continued up to Impruneta. I turned right before Impruneta and climbed to Bagnolo then descended to Tavernuzze.  From Tavernuzze, a few kilometers up the road I turned right to climb past San Andrea to the road just outside of Spedelatto, turning right there and continuing through Chiesa Nuova to the turn at the top of a hill for a rarely used descent into Scandicci.  I haven't been down this road in a while, and it was a blast.  From Scandicci, home on the viales.  

A really fun ride and good to be on some of the roads for the first time in a month or two.  The climb up through San Andrea is particularly beautiful, and the road is quiet, but steep in places.  Fun 2 plus hours.  28.6 miles in 2:15 rolling time for an average speed of 12.7 mph with 2315 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 54.  Kind of balmy, but with the breeze involved in moving not yet really warm.  Ciao!

A view across the valley from before Bagnolo.

A view from the area of Bagnolo across the valley.

A villa on the old road to Pozzolatico.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Medium rides turns short - plan B by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I started my ride late, as Emily and I had a major grocery shopping to do, then I had some lunch at home.  It wasn't exactly warm, as the web showed 46 degrees with 10 mph wind.  I planned a ride, and started out up Via Bolognese, and was continuing to Pratolino when Kate called, and asked if I could pick up Viola from school, and bring her home.  We do this all the time, but it meant I skipped part of the planned ride, from above Pratolino to Casselina, Viliano, Bivigliano, etc.  I just cut that part out and from Pratolino, I continued directly up to the turn toward L'Olmo, took that turn, and descended all the way down Via Faentina to Piazza della Cure, then home.  All in all, still a great ride.  The summary is:  17.5 miles in 1:20 rolling time for an average speed of 13.2 mph, with 1955 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 48 degrees.  Click the link for more information.  Sorry, no pictures, as after the call, I wanted to book it so I could easily be on time.  More pictures next time.  Ciao.

Medium rides turns short - plan B by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday morning ride with the team.

Up at a relatively normal time this morning after a great symphony concert last night in the newly renovated Teatro Communale.  Met the team at 9 at a location around 5 k from the apartment.  We took off toward Montelupo with 8, a pretty good turnout for a relatively cold morning.  The weather was beautiful, but at 9 it was only around 44, which is a little cold on the bike.  From Montelupo, we turned right and took the road toward Empoli, then climbed to Vinci.  There was a pretty big gruppo riding that direction, I would guess 50 to 70, but we had one person who could not keep that pace, so we let them go by.  When the gruppo hit the traffic area, we quickly re-caught them.  

From Vinci, we climbed to San Baronto, which is a really nice climb.  Not very steep anywhere, I would guess a maximum of around 7% but an average of 5%.  Super curvy, fun, pretty road with great views as you climb.  We  broke apart for the climb, and I climbed alone for most of it.  Around 1/2 way up, a group passed me going quite fast - I tried to accelerate to stay with them, but there was no hope.  They all had the exact same kit, matching bikes, and with the speed they were going I am assuming that it was a pro team.  Not long after the group, two support vehicles drove by, which reinforced my thoughts.  This is a popular climb and route for the many area teams on a Sunday morning.  It is really quite a scene, and fun to witness and be a part of.  We took a break in San Baronto, a few guys having an expresso, then took off for the descent down the other side toward Pistoia.  It is a nice descent, long but not too steep, and it drops you into the valley which leads back to Firenze.  

From there you have an hour or so of just bearing down and staying with the group on relative flats.  One of the group was a fair amount slower than I, so the pace was moderated, which was very nice for me.  A really fun Sunday morning with the crew - good, hard paced riding, great weather, and a great time.  The summary is:  60.2 miles in 4:00 rolling time for and average speed of 15 mph, with 2260 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of around 50.  Check the link below for more information.  Ciao.

San Baronto

The scene in San Baronto

Here are a few shots that try to capture the scene in San Baronto.
Probably 3 to 5 teams there at any one time, with riders coming
through both ways.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Nice 3 hour ride and spring is coming!

Emily picked up some slack for me today, allowing me a more extended ride.  Soon, I hope to be back to 4 to 6 hour rides, but we shall see.  It was one of the first really warm days since early December, which was a total treat.  Checking the average temperatures here, it was only average, so hopefully it will stay this way and get warmer.  At a couple of points on the ride, I noticed a few trees with some new green growth, then a few hearty flowers poking up.  This totally made me smile.  I grew up in Colorado, the Denver area, and have lived most of my life there.  Emily and I have spent around 23 of our 35 years together in the mountains, and we certainly have a different definition of and timing for spring.  I am really looking forward to spring here, as it may be my first "normal" spring to live through.  

Well, now for the ride.  I left on Via Faentina, then through Piazza della Cure, and took a different road up to San Domenico.  I forgot the name, but I have descended it a couple of times and walked it as well.  A nice alternate route.  I rode up through Fiesole then continued on the road toward Croce de Vetta, but turned off just before the pass to descend through Monteloro.  What fun.  I have been mostly climbing this road lately, and the descent is a blast.  The road above Fiesole is also one of the most user friendly roads around here, and it was fun as well.  After the descent, I caught the road to Molin de Piano in Sieci, and rode up through there then climbed the tiny road to Doccia.  I had ridden it a couple of times last year when we were living close by, but not since.  It is pretty darn steep.  I checked on the percent-o-meter, and it said 20% in a couple of spots.  Yowser!  From Doccia, I continued up then over to the windmill (molino de vento), then descended toward Monte Bonello, and took the "popes road" (Don's name, but I love it) back to Pontesieve.  From Pontesieve, I took the main road back home and made pretty darn good time, maxing out around 42 kph on a relatively flat road, which is good for me.  Even riding fast, I had one young Italian rider pass me like I was standing still.  You go guy!  

Fun ride, and I am excited for spring.  Summary is:  39.11 miles in 2:58 rolling time, for an average speed of 13.2 mph, with 3240 vertical feet of climbing at a wonderful average temperature around 54.  Sweet!  Ciao.

The monastery at Madonna del Sasso across the valley before the Monteloro descent.

Here are a couple of shots from the climb to Doccia. Che Bella!

Fast, fun ride - weather improving, kinda warm.

After the last Italian class, which was a meeting at a bar for cafe and pastries, I headed home, did a couple of errands - a valentine's day gift for Emily - then got ready for a ride.  Checking the time, I only had 1-1/2 hours max, so I took off for a standard.  I rode through Piazza della Cure, then up the back way to San Domenico, started up the Fiesole road, then turned off to descend through Maiano to the Chiesa di San Martino.  From there, turn left and climb through Vincigliata to the road connecting to Fiesole, a left there, continue climbing / traversing, then descend to Fiesole.  Turn at Fiesole to descend to Pian de Mugnone, then back on Via Faentina to Piazza della Cure, then home.  14.33 miles, 1:12 rolling time, 11.9 mph average, 1650 vertical feet climbed, average temperature of 53.  Ciao.

By the way - After the ride, I met Emily to observe a "flash mob" piece protesting violence against women, which she took part in.  It was pretty hard to see anything, but it was a happening scene to witness.  

I love this stand of trees on the climb to Vincigliata.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I took my final exam for my Italian class this morning, and had most of the remainder of the day open.  The weather was mostly sunny, but a little chilly, in the 42 to 48 range.  I need to work on the course for the Gran Fondo coming up in a couple of weeks, so I did part of the course on the first part of the ride, then branched off for a ride I wanted to do.   I left home and took the Viales around town past Piazzale Michaelangelo to the turn for Tavernuzze.  I rode through Tavernuzze and stayed on the road for the climb to San Casciano.  Typically, I or we (the team), branch off to the right toward Greve, but the course for the Gran Fondo goes up to San Casciano.  After San Casciano, I took the left to Mercatale, then turned off for the road to Montefiridolfi.  A very fast descent, then a steep climb to the town.  I have to really watch the new bike, as it gets moving quite quickly.  

From Montefiridolfi, I took a ridge road through a couple of very small towns, then descend to the river valley around Bibbione.  At the valley floor, I take the main road back up to San Casciano.  During the Gran Fondo, we will be descending this portion.  From San Casciano, back through Spedellatto, Chiesa Nuova, then descend into Scandicci.  Through Scandicci to the Viales, then back home.  Nice to be out for more than an hour or two.  I need to step up the training if I want to have fun with the 130 kilometer course with lots of climbing.  

The garmin link is below, but the summary is:  39.3 miles in 2:53 rolling time for an average speed of 13.7, with 2840 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of around 48.  I am always guessing on the average temp, as the garmin information always has temperatures at the beginning which translate into the temperature in the apartment.  

An old stone farmhouse on the San Casciano climb.

Winter vineyards in the Montefiridolfi area.

The view across the valley on the San Casciano climb.

An old stone farmhouse around Montefiridolfi.

View of a church and small town in the Montefiridolfi area.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cercina, option 4 for return. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

First off, I forgot the camera, so, sorry, no pictures today.  I helped Ben to the airport and with the check in process this morning, then returned for the second half of my Italian class.  Tomorrow is the final test, then I will take a number of months off before resuming again, I assume next fall.  I need some time to assimilate everything I have learned and been exposed to, and hopefully, I will be getting busy taking out some tours.  Last week I had 5 inquires and signed up 3 groups for tours.  One additional one said they definitely wanted to do it, but has not booked with Vayable, a service that I use to market and book some tours.  It is best for me if I do it on my own, but the Vayable site is great and a wonderful way to market my services.  Thanks for the suggestion, Billy.  After class, off to the COOP for some groceries, then home and a quick change for  a quick ride.

I rode up Via Bolognese to the turn off for Cercina, and took the contouring / climbing road over through Cercina to the church above the town and decided on the descent which I will call option 4, as it is the fourth option to the west.  It is a truly spectacular descent and a really great route.  At the bottom, I climbed back up one of the other options to the back way into the Carriege complex.  From there, down, then the turn off for the back way up and over to the Piazza Giorgini area, then home.  Sweet ride.  15 miles in 1:14 rolling time for an average of 12.2 mph, with 1600 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 45.  Check the link for more information.  Ciao.

Cercina, option 4 for return. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A chilly, but nice afternoon ride.

I found a couple of hours to get out today, and had a great ride.  We have been super busy with our son, Ben visiting, along with some extra babysitting for Kate and Nicco.  I had a stomach bug a week ago, and it feels like it is finally truly leaving.  Yeah!  I got suited and booted, for chilly, but mostly sunny weather, and did one of my standard quick rides.  I rode up the back road to San Domenico, then up the Fiesole road to the Maiano turn off, taking the right and descending to Chiesa San Martino where you start the Vincigliata climb.  I love this climb, although I am sure it hits 15% at times.  My legs were a little sluggish, as my energy level is not where it should be due to the lingering stomach bug.  I enjoyed the climb, as always, and rode through Vincigliata up to the junction with the road from Compiobbi to Fiesole.  I turned toward Fiesole, continued climbing a little, then enjoyed the descent to Fiesole, turning right to descend to Pian de Mugnone.  From there it is a pretty main road home, mostly descending, through Piazza della Cure.  Another sweet ride.  

The summary is:  14.2 miles in 1:11 rolling time for an average speed of 11.9 mph, with 1660 feet of climbing at an average temperature of 43 degrees.  Here is the garmin link for all the specifics.  Ciao. 

Here are two views across the valley on the wonderful Vincigliata climb.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Nice get away ride during Ben's visit.

Our son, Ben is visiting for a week and one half, so I have not been riding, as he is not a cyclist.  We have been doing a lot of walking and sightseeing, which is surprisingly tiring.  For me, being on the bike is refreshing, even if it takes a fair amount of energy.  I had a stomach bug last Saturday night through Sunday night, which hit me pretty hard in the intestines.  Ben caught the bug yesterday night, and had a very difficult night with major stomach problems.  He was better when he awoke this morning, but was not up for any of our possible plans, so I got out for a ride.  

I rode up Via Bolognese to Pratolino, then took the back cut off to the Monte Morello road.  I had not been on the Monte Morello road for a couple of months, and it is really nice.  I continued up to the top of the road, close to the peak of Monte Morello, then descended.  After where I caught this road through 3/4 of the descent mileage, this is a really great, twisty, turny, well graded contouring road.  A really fun ride.  At a certain point of the descent, it gets quite steep, I would guess around 20% for probably 500 meters, then settles in at 10% for a series of really nice, tight switchbacks.  Today, I caught up with first one, then a second car on the switchbacks, and they were nice enough to slow down and wave me by.  Thanks.  I really enjoyed the new bike on the descent, it is really smooth and fast.  The descent ends at Sesto Fiorentino, then you take relatively busy roads back at the base of the area you just climbed / traversed / descended, back to the apartment.  

As always, super fun to be on the bike.  The garmin link is below, but the summary is:  21 miles in 1:38 rolling time for an average speed of 12.8 mph, with 2350 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of around 45 degrees F.  Sweet!

Looking up the road around midway between the turn off at Pratolino
and the top of the road, right next to Monte Morello.

Looking back down the fun, twisty road from the same location.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday ride con squadra - San Casciano, Mercatale, Strada by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Our son, Ben arrives tomorrow.  Actually he was supposed to arrive tonight around 6, but a couple of late flights, and now he arrive tomorrow morning.  Today was my chance to ride with the team, and although the weather looked pretty marginal, I took off to join them.  We ended up having a really nice ride.  The rain chased us pretty much the whole time we were riding but never really hit us.  Only a few sprinkles here and there.  We rode a good part of the short route (80k) for the gran fondo coming up in early March.  The people who are in the racing division are doing the short course, which was most of the people who were on the ride today.

We started with 9, a really good number for early February with marginal weather, but these guys are dedicated cyclists.  At the start of the first real climb we were down to 7, and after the first climb we were down to 6.  Stayed at 6 for a while, but finished with 5, of whom I was definitely the slowest.  At least I hung in there.  The people who dropped just wanted to do a shorter tour or were worried about the weather.  I went out through Porta Romana, and rode the main road to Tavernuzze, where we met.  One person from the team, Paolo, whom I had not met before, joined me after Porta Romana and cycled out to Tavernuzze on my tail.  We all went from Tavernuzze toward San Casciano, the first real climb being the climb to San Casciano.  I have ridden all around this area, but had never ridden this main road climb to San Casciano.  It is a really nice road, and is on the Gran Fondo course.  From San Casciano, we rode up / over to Mercatale, Quattro Strade, then descended down to the Greve river valley.  We headed out to Passo dei Peccorai, then climbed up to Strada in Chianti.  From Strada, we really booked on a ridge road with a little climbing, then descended into Grassina.  From Grassina, we did a different route back into town than I had done before, which was nice.  I will have to check the map to get it in my head.

The Gran Fondo will do a lap to Fiesole, and one of us, Leif, decided to do this.  The  most interesting part of the course is a short stretch after Fiesole, after you descend to Pian de Mugnone, where you turn off on Via Salviati to climb to Via Bolognese for the descent back into town.  It is interesting, as you are basically done and they throw in a short detour with around 200 vertical feet at 20%.  I think it may be cramp city, but we shall see.  I see the organizers doing a "Mr. Burns" excellent and rubbing their hands together when they thought this up as part of the course.

Well, no pictures today, but the garmin link is below.  The summary is 41.8 miles in 2:56 rolling time for an average of 14.2 mph with 2520 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 55 F.  Sweet.

Saturday ride con squadra - San Casciano, Mercatale, Strada by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, February 1, 2013

The weather was predicted to be rainy today, and waking up, it seemed to be on target.  It only sprinkled, misted really, for a little while, then it started to clear.  Well, I had a mostly open day, so I got it together and took off.  I rode out through the Cascine, the largest park in Florence, to a route that is mostly quiet back roads to a town called Signa, then through the town to Lastra a Signa, then climbed a small pass toward Ginestra Fiorentina.  At the top, I decided to ride over through Marliano to Vigliano, one of my favorite routes but I had never accessed it this way.  It was it's usual great climb.  It is a super quiet road, great scenery, and the skies really cleared while I climbed.  You climb to Santa Maria a Marciaola, then start a great descent to Scandicci.  I was really looking forward to the descent, as the new bike is super sweet on the downhills.  I started to go what for me is quite fast, around 60 kph (40 mph) then got hit with a side wind gust, which startled me and moved me sideways, so the remainder, most, of the descent I was pretty careful.  Still, really fun.  

Great ride, great weather.  The new bike is a gift I gave myself from my Mother's estate, and I am remembering her and kind of thinking she is along for the ride when I go.  So, thanks Mom, I am really enjoying the new ride.  Summary is 30 miles in 2:08 for an average of 13.8 mph, 1650 vertical climbed with an average temperature of 60.  Nice.  By the way, I had to be at Kate's to help with babysitting by 4:30, therefore the shorter ride today.  Here is the garmin link.

The beautiful road to Marliano.

Some of the scenery on the Marliano road.

More scenery from the Marliano portion of the ride.

Fun ride yesterday, great weather, lots of climbing

After class, I texted Emily that the weather was just too nice to meet with her friends for lunch and I was going for a ride.  I got ready, checked out the new bike, I just love to look at it, let alone ride it, and set off.  I rode out the viale to the road to Bagno a Ripoli, then climbed to San Donato in Collina.  I then descended through Troghi, Cellai, did the small climb to Pallazzuolo, then descended to the turn off on the west river road.  I rode along this road around half the way to Rignano sull'Arno, then took the small back road that climbs through Santa Maria to Bombone.  The pictures are from this climb.  There is one stretch at around 15% for around 300 vertical, which was difficult, but fine.  I definitely miss the 29 sprocket on the rear cassette, but the bike rides so nice it is totally worth it.  Perhaps I can find a 29 or 30 for the cassette.  From Bombone, I descended / climbed to Volognano, then descended to Rosano.

From Rosano, across the bridge to the outskirts of Pontesieve, then through Sieci to the turn for Monteloro.  The weather was holding, I love this road, and I guess I felt like an additional 1500 vertical of climbing.  The climb felt great, then I hooked up with the main road above Fiesole, then climbed to the L'Olmo road.  I descended through L'Olmo, Caldine, Pian de Mugnone, and back into town via Piazza della Cure.  The new bike really descends quickly and smoothly, I have to keep an eye on the speed, as it seems to want to get away from me a little.  The brakes do work well, thankfully.  The garmin link is below, but the summary is:  44.5 miles in 3:31 rolling time for an average speed of 12.6 mph, with 5050 vertical feet climbed at a wonderful average temperature of 58 degrees.  Fun!

Starting the climb to Santa Maria / Bombone.

A super green field on the climb.  It is the end of January.
I'm not in Crested Butte anymore.

The end of the difficult part of the climb.  Actually the stretch
before this one is the really steep part - approaching 20%.