Sunday, March 31, 2013

Quick Easter ride after a huge Pranzo with new friends.

We had a nice Easter morning.  Emily went into town to be a part of the traditional Easter festivities which include an exploding cart, a parade with people in medieval costumes, and additional activities.  I stayed home and did some needed maintenance on the bike.  Riding in the rain, even with some wiping up after rides, leaves the bike pretty dirty and makes brake pads wear out very quickly.  I took a couple of hours to clean everything and lube and adjust the bike.  Then I went into town and met Emily and some new friends, some friends of one of Emily's cousins, and some friends of theirs.  We went to a restaurant that one of the people knew, and had a wonderful Easter Pranzo.  The full 5 plus courses, all really great.  I am good at pacing and eating everything put in front of me.  It was great.

Emily went to do an errand, and I came home and went for a quick ride.  The time change happened here last night, and it was around 5 by the time I started.  Needless to say, a short ride.  There are many options, so I can keep it fresh and fun.  I climbed up Via Bolognese to Pian de San Bartolo, then turned toward Cercina and took the first option for a descent which is before the small town of Cercina.  I enjoyed the descent, and there are a few stretches with new pavement that were rough road the last time I rode this descent.  Fun.  At the bottom, you take a back way into the area above Carreige, then descend past Carreige and take a left to climb toward Via Bolognese, but cut off right before to get home the best way.  Fun ride.  Buona Pasqua.  The summary is:  11 miles in 54:30 rolling time for an average speed of 12.2 mph with 1170 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 60.  Nice.

After a huge Easter lunch, a quick hour ride. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of shots on the ridge before the real descent from 1/2 way between
Pian de San Bartolo and Cercina.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday morning ride - rainy and no other team members.

The emails said we were meeting at Tavernuzze at 8:30, and I planned on going, as the raduno is Monday, and we have plans that do not include riding for tomorrow, and I wanted to get out.   So, when I awoke it was super cloudy, but had not started raining yet.  I did all my morning stuff and got out of the apartment at the right time, and just as I left and hit the streets, it started raining.  It was pretty light, so I just kept on going.  I was in Tavernuzze about 5 minutes early, and waited until 10 minutes after 8:30, and no one showed up.  Not really a surprise, as it was raining lightly and the prediction is for rain all day.  Andrea stopped by to say hi on his way into town for work, and I took off by myself with a few options in mind.

Ten minutes or so after I started the rain got very light, perhaps sporadic, and I decided to ride up through Luiano toward San Casciano.  By the time I finished the climb, the rain had stopped and it looked pretty good, depending on which direction you looked.  So, I expanded the ride by descending, then climbing to Montefiridolfi.  The weather still looked ok, so I took a left at Montefiridolfi and rode across the ridge to the descent toward Sambuca.  When I hit the valley, it still looked ok, and I thought I should climb to San Pancrazio from the valley floor, an option about 8 kilometers back toward San Casciano.  By the time I was at the junction, it had started to rain lightly, and the San Pancrazio ridge looked very dark and foreboding.  I decided to skip the extra loop at this time and climbed to San Casciano.  As I climbed, the rain became more steady, and eventually turned into a real down pour.  From San Casciano, I headed over through Spedelleto to Chiesa Nuova, just cranking with my head down, as it was really raining.

I took the turn to drop to Scandicci, and the rain pretty much stopped my the time I reached Scandicci.  I rode home through Scandicci to the Viale, and made it home on super wet roads, but with no more rain.  Even with a 1/2 hour downpour, it was great to get out and ride.  I read a post on facebook about why someone loves riding, which basically said it always made them happy, and that fits me pretty well.  It is just good to get out and be on the bike.  It was not too cold, so the weather was tolerable.  The summary is:  40 miles in 2:57 rolling time for an average of 13.6 mph with 2400 vertical climbed at an average temperature of 56.  Ciao.

Where was the team? I enjoyed a rainy ride solo. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Yes, it was pretty dark and stormy.  Both of these pictures are at the beginning
of the descent toward Sambuca from the Montefiridolfi ridge.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nice two hour ride with a fair amount of climbing.

I went with Emily to her art history class this morning, which was an architectural tour of Florence.  It was really great.  The teacher, Elaine, is a super knowledgeable, great teacher.  She is the type of professor who is great at sharing her passion for a subject in a very accessible manner.  So, I really had fun as a guest of the class.  We went to lunch afterward with a friend of Emily's which was also good.  So, I was pretty late getting out to ride, but had time to fit in a couple of hours.  I rode over to Piazza della Cure, then up to San Domenico, one of my 3 "back way" options, then up to the Maiano  turn off, where I descended to the Chiesa San Martino, where the Vincigliata climbs begins.  This is one of my favorite climbs, and I often use it when I am pressed for time.  At the top of the climb, I connected with the road over to Fiesole, but at the junction with the Fiesole / Olmo road, I went right and climbed to Croci alla Vetta, then descended down through L'Olmo, Caldine, Pian de Mugnone, and back to Florence and Piazza della Cure.  Fun ride. The summary is:  20.5 miles in 1:38 rolling time for an average speed of 12.5 mph with 2090 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 60.

Nice two hour ride with a fair amount of climbing. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nice fun, short ride with encouragement from Emily.

Today, I had not planned on being able to ride.  I babysat Vittorio this morning from around 9:45 to 12:30, and we had people coming over for tea at 4, so I was planning on helping.  Today the weather was nice, and it is predicted to not be so nice for the next week.  So, after I returned home, stopping on the way at Essalunga (a supermarket), Emily encouraged me to go for a ride.  I took her suggestion after a little prompting.  I did not get out until 2, and realistically only had an hour and one half at the most, so I did a favorite little ride close to home.

I climbed up Via Bolognese to San Bartolo, which is the most user friendly part of the climb, with a maximum grade of around 7%.  Just after where I turn off, it ramps up to around 10 to 12% for 600 vertical, which is not easy for me.  Anyway, I turned off before the steep climbing, and descended / traversed / then climbed through Cercina to the Church above the town.  I took the far right descent option (there are 4 options) which has become my favorite.  Great descent down into Florence, then 5 or so kilometers through the city to return home.  It felt great after the difficult weather yesterday.  Check the link for all the information, but the summary is:  13.5 miles in 1:05 rolling time for an average speed of 12.4 mph with 1320 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 58.  Sweet!

Pian de San Bartolo, Cercina - nice quick ride by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Here are a few shots of some of my favorite parts of the road between Cercina
and the Church above the town, which marks the top of the climb.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A fun ride in difficult conditions with new clients.

Today I had my first tour in a couple of months with clients, and the first I had booked through Vayable, which is a guide service that a client suggested I register with last fall.  When I went to bed last night, the weather forecast was on the favorable side, with only 40% chance of rain, mostly in the afternoon, and a high of 52 predicted.  Well, that did not happen.  It was raining lightly, but steadily when I awoke, and continued almost all day, only changing when it decided to really pour.  The temperature was nowhere near 52, and I think the average for the ride was around 46.  So, 46 degrees, raining, with two new clients from Georgia.

They were totally into going, regardless of the weather, and had a great attitude the entire ride.  It was great to take them riding.  We went out through the Cascine, then over my back roads to Signa, the Lastra a Signa.  We climbed up and over to Ginestra, and then had a break and a cafe just east of Ginestra.  We decided to do an extra climb up on the tiny road to Montagnana, then descended to Cerbia.  It was certainly raining harder now, and getting colder.  We were also getting wet, and the weather was more difficult on the descents due to speed and cold.  We climbed to Chiesa Nuova from Cerbia, then descended to Galluzzo.  By this time, everyone had basically had enough, and we discussed our options for returning.

I told them we had a number of possibilities, and they chose the route that would be a little longer, but with less traffic.  So, we went through Cascine del Ricco, then over to Cinque Vie.  I suggested another stop in Cinque Vie, as I know there is a bar there that is friendly to cyclists.  It was a truly needed stop, as everyone was quite cold, and a break with cafe and just warm and dry for 20 minutes was great.  We resumed our return, and made it back with no problems.  I was totally impressed with Benson and Candice's attitude and ability to keep going.  Good job!  The garmin link gives all the information if you want to see.  Ciao.

Ride through Vayable with Benson and Candice by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

On the way out of town, after the Cascine and small piece of busy road.

Benson and Candice at the top of the climb between Lastra and Ginestra.

Candice checking her camera on the ridge by Montagnana.

We're almost back.  The road between Cinque Vie and Piazza Ferruci.

A picture of a fallen bird that Candice wanted a photo of.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Raduno with the team and other teams.

Up early this morning to meet a group at the Cascine, then proceed to the start of a Raduno, which is a hosted ride by one of the local teams where other teams register and join in the tour.  We started with 9, but it started sprinkling, and Lorenzo was trying to get over the flu, so he went home.  We were also riding with some other guys from another team to find the starting point, so there were around 15 of us. We did some definite wandering, and I would never have found the starting point, but eventually, we all did.  We registered, paid the small fee, then started.  We rode over to Signa, the Lastra a Signa, then out to Montelupo.  Between Lastra and Montelupo, we were really rolling, averaging around 45 kph in a pretty god sized group.

Some of the group peeled off in Montelupo, as they were not participating  in the Raduno, and most ended up doing the short course, which also diverted in Montelupo.  After re-grouping, figuring who on our team was doing the long versus short course, 4 of us took off for the long course.  We rode over to Samonnata, then Villanuova, and turned on the road to Ortimo, then climbed up through Ortimo to Montespertoli.  On this climb, a team car was following two relatively young riders on the team, and with a speaker, delivering instructions as they rode.  They were not going much quicker than I and two of the four of us stayed with them the whole climb.  Interesting.  In Montespertoli, we checked in with a control person to record that we did the long course, then descended to Bacciano, then climbed to Montagnana, then descended to Cerbia.

We rode toward Montelupo, but decided to turn off to complete a loop climbing from Ginestra to Malmantine, then descending to Lastra a Signa.  From Lastra, we followed the same roads back to the starting point, where they had some pastries, soda, and bottles of wine for each of us to take.  It is the first time for me to ride with a bottle of wine in one of my pockets.  We rode the 10 to 15 k back into Florence, with people peeling off where needed to return home.  For the squadra, "a prossima", or next time.  Always fun to get out and enjoy experiencing and being part of the cycling culture here.  Ciao.  The summary is:  65.7 miles in 4:14 rolling time for an average of 15.5 mph with 2350 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 60.

Raduno - Lastra, Montelupo, Montespertoli, etc. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

On the last real climb of the day, Alessandro mentioned that he liked a photo I took behind me while riding last week.  I thought he was right behind me, but he had dropped off to help pull Terenzio up the hill.  Anyway, a slightly crooked photo, but not bad, capturing all three of my co-riders on the long course of the Raduno today.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring is here - at least for today. Loved the ride!

I decided on an easy, casual ride today, starting relatively late and doing my best to take it easy on the ride.  I am riding a raduno with the team tomorrow, so I wanted to save up some energy.  I went out through the Cascine, the biggest park in Florence, and accessed the back roads to Signa, then over to Lastra a Signa.  I have my first clients in a couple of months on Tuesday, and I am thinking this would be a good route for them.  At Lastra a Signa, you turn to climb a little pass around Malmantine, then continue climbing very gradually to La Luna, then enjoy a beautiful descent into Ginestra Fiorentina.  I hooked up with the road to Cerbia here, and had a cafe machiato at a new favorite roadside cafe.  Just after the cafe, I turned off to climb to the ridge which accesses Montagnana.  This is a tiny, but really nice road, a little steep in places, and for clients, it will be an option if all are feeling energetic.

Flowers were starting to show in increasing amounts as I rode up to the ridge and climbed along the ridge to the junction with the road to Cerbia.  I took the road down to Cerbia, a screaming descent, where I saw the speedometer hitting around 65kph.  I was watching a video of yesterdays stage of the race in Spain, and they had a graphic showing the speed of the group approaching the finish area.  It was a sprint finish, but they were coming in at around 50 kph, and increased it to over 60 kph as the got in sight of the finish line.  For me, the 65 plus kph was very fast, but it makes me realize just how strong and skilled the pros are.  Going this fast with people all around and breaking into a sprint.  Their gearing must be something like 58 / 10 to be able to pedal effectively at this speed.  Wow.

From Cerbia, I climbed to Chiesa Nuova, which was super today.  Riders were out all day, and a young and very strong looking rider passed me on this climb.  I took it up a notch, and stayed with him for a couple of kilometers, climbing in the big ring.  Eventually, I started to tire and thought about my intent of having a casual ride with not that much effort.  Well, one interval won't hurt.  I rode from Chiesa Nuova over and down to Galluzzo, then through the little park there and over to the Cinque Vie road, then home.  What fun!  Summary is:  37.2 miles in 2:37 rolling time for an average speed of 14.2 mph with 1850 vertical feet climbed at a wonderful average temperature of 63.

Great casual solo spring ride. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The view to the east from around La Luna, between Lastra a Signa and Ginestra Fiorentina.

A hedge of flowers just blooming on the Montagnana ridge.

A view to the north from the Montagnana ridge ride / climb.

Wow, this tree is full of flowers, on the Cinque Vie road.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Great group ride and spring was definitely here today!

I met a few folks this morning at the Le Due Ruote shop, and 4 of us ended up riding together on a perfect day to ride here.  Spring was actually here, it was pretty warm, it was totally sunny, and the countryside was super green with some flowers bravely showing themselves in many places.  We started with a larger group, but around 1/2 turned off to do the Giro de Mugello, which we had done on Tuesday.  We planned on going over to Incisa, then Figline, and climbing Passo de Sugame to Dudda, etc.  We stopped for cafe machiati in Incisa and changed the plan for the wonderful road called sette ponte, or seven bridges.  It weaves in and out of drainages for a long way, is south facing, yeah sun, and just a spectacular ride.

We started toward Castlefranco, but at one turn, the road was blocked, and the workers highly recommended we not try to walk through.  We took some new roads for me and ended up going to Loro Ciuffenna, which is really the start of the sette ponte road.  A spectacular, gentle climb, and it always excites me to ride a new road here.  Eventually the climb gets real to get to Ciuffenna, but 3/4 of it was a nice big ring crank.  From Ciuffenna, we rode the sette ponte all the way to Regello, then over to Donnini.  The new portion from Ciuffenna to Castlefranco was super, at least as nice as the other parts I had already ridden.

In Regello, we stopped for a second cafe of the ride, as it was looking like a pretty long ride, and Dominick was getting a little beat up.  He is not as used to the longer distances like we rode today.  A second cafe is a first for me, and it definitely gave me lots of energy.  Leif led us from Regello to Donnini, where there is more climbing than I had thought.  He took a super nice, slow pace in deference to Dominick, which was a perfect thing to do.  Just before Donnini, you start a really great descent to San Ellero, then you go back on the same road we came out on to Pontesieve, then back to Firenze.  Dominick peeled off after Pontesieve to take the road on the other side of the Arno, but we were cranking and just kept it going, yelling Ciao, Buon Giratta.  We kept a great pace all the way back into town, where Chris peeled off, then Leif peeled off, all taking the best way to each of their apartments.

Just a super fun day.  I finally am feeling like the cold I have had is basically gone, the weather was perfect, and I had lots of energy.  Check the link for all the information, but the summary is:  77.1 miles in a rolling time of 4:44 for an average speed of 16.3 mph with 3725 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 62 or so.  Wonderful!

Wonderful spring ride with small group, some new roads, sette ponte by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

From the left, Chris, Dominick, and Leif at our first coffee stop, around Incisa.

The roads were beautiful, as was the weather riding from Figline toward 
Loro Ciueffenna, a new road for me.  Fun!

Here are a couple of pictures of the group on the Sette Ponte
road, working together on a slight descent.  I peeled off the 
back to take the pictures while riding around 30 kph.  Not bad 
if I do say so myself.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Giro de Mugello, plus Monteloro detour, group ride.

The weather finally cooperated today, and I was invited to ride with a different group this morning.  It turned out to be mostly people I knew, and we all had a fun ride.  We started at the shop, Le Due Ruote, and took off to the east out the main road toward Pontesieve.  We turned off at Le Falle and climbed through Monteloro to the Fiesole road.  We finished the climb on that road and turned off to the right for the road that returns to the Pontesieve road at Sieci.  Super fun climb, super fun descent.  After getting back on the main road we continued toward Pontesieve, and at Pontesieve, we lost two people who had to return to Firenze by 1:00.  Three of us continued and did the ride known as the tour de Mugello.  We rode out the main road through Rufina, Scopeti, and some other towns stopping in Dicomano for a cafe and pastry.  

There, I suggested a back road over toward the base of the climb to the Croci a Vetta, which of course Leif knew, and agreed to ride.  We all enjoyed this road, as it is tiny, a good surface with little traffic, and really beautiful.  Both Leif and Chris are stronger than I, but they kept the pace at a very comfortable range.  On the climb, I told them to go ahead, but I made around 2/3 of the climb in the big ring, which is good for me.  I continued up the steeper part of the climb in the small ring, and they only had to wait maybe 5 minutes at the top.  We descended through Fiesole, San Domenico, then Leif split off and Chris and I continued through Piazza della Cure, then I went home.  Really fun ride and day, although I am a little tired.  The summary is 66.2 miles in 4:21 rolling time for an average of 15.2 mph with 4250 vertical feet climbed at and average (sun affected) temperature of 58.  Check the garmin link for more information.  Ciao.

The beautiful back road from Dicomano to Vicchio.

Leif and Chris on the same road behind me.  I took
the picture over my head and it turned out - surprise.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Santa Brigida, crash, Sieci, Monteloro, home.

I awoke to pretty nice weather this morning, and my compulsive cough was pretty much gone.  I decided to get a ride in and was waiting for it to warm up to allow some comfort.  As I was waiting, having breakfast, etc., I heard a fair amount of commotion outside, and there was this huge demonstration going on, called a Manifestazione here.  The streets were blocked off, and many people marched by the apartment to protest the Mafia here and in all of Italy.  It was easily the biggest manifestazione I have seen, and all the people came by the apartment.  I left with about 1/2 hour's worth of people still lined up to pass, but I wanted to get going.  

I climbed up Via Faentina to L'Olmo, a pretty good climb, then cut over to Alberaccio, where I descended to the cut off for Santa Brigida.  I thought I might see our old landlords there, as they often come out there on the weekends, but no one was there.  I did check out the house, and one person was working on the grounds / olive grove.  I continued descending from there, and had my first crash in ages on a hairpin right before the Castello del Trebbio.  I think I noticed some loose dirt / gravel on the turn, started braking, and the bike went out from underneath me.  A bent drop out bracket, but it was returned to straight easily enough by hand.  I have a couple of good scrapes in the usual places - forearm / elbow, and hip.  Not too bad, and just a good reminder to pay attention.  

I got everything back together, the electronic shifting continued to work well, although I lost my easiest gear, but that probably has to do with the way I straightened the drop out.  I will check with the shop tomorrow or Monday.  After the crash, I continued down through Molin de Piano, then to Sieci, where I turned toward town, then cut off to climb through Monteloro.  I am a firm believer that if you can keep going without a lot of pain, it is better to work through a couple of bruises / scrapes.  I enjoyed the climb and at the top stopped to check things out and realized I had a couple of good scrapes.  I headed down through Fiesole, and it finally warmed up pretty good, above 50.  I have some patching to do on a couple of garments, and the scrapes will heal, and hopefully I will not have a big bill at the shop, but we shall see.  I enjoyed the ride anyway.  The cold is definitely not gone, and what I did do today probably pushed what I should have.  With that in mind, I will probably not do the team "raduno" tomorrow.  Sorry, guys (ragazzi).  The summary is:  33.5 miles in 2:53 rolling time for an average of 11.6 mph with 3750 vertical feet climbed at an average temp of 50.  Take away the crash and the cold and it was perfect.  As it was it was still fun to get out.  Ciao.

A peace flag being carried by our apartment in a "Manifestazione",
which is a public demonstration.  This one was huge, with at least 
10,000 people going by to demonstrate against the Mafia.

Looking over toward Pratolino from the climb to L'Olmo.

The demonstrators are lined up below to start the march through 
the city.  

A picture of L'Olmo above on the climb up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cold - outside and catching one, but a ride anyway. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Sorry, no pictures and a pretty short post.  Yesterday it really rained all day, and it turned colder as well.  I officially came down with a cold yesterday, and it was the first real day of it.  Today, I definitely have the cold, but after a morning of not doing much but watching some episodes of Friday Night Lights on line, I decided to get out, at least for a little while.  I climbed up Via Bolognese to Pian de San Bartolo, then turned off and rode over, down, and up to the church above Cercina.  I took the descent route that I used to always take, and it made it a little different that the ride a few days ago.  I know I feel better while riding, but hopefully I will not pay for it later.  It makes me happy to get out and happiness is a good thing.  Summary is:  14 miles in a rolling time of 1:10 for an average speed of 12 mph with 1450 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 49.  Ciao, a prossimo.

Cold - outside and catching one, but a ride anyway. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fun fast ride in response to the sun giving us a visit.

I awoke today to some pretty hard rain, and decided I would not be riding today.  Emily was babysitting all day, and called to see if I wanted to join her and Torrio at a place called the Speccola.  I had never been there, and said yes.  I did a couple of errands, then took some buses to meet them.  They were already in the Speccola, which is a kind of museum with pretty much every kind of animal / reptile / fish / bird / etc. you can think of stuffed and put on display.  It was actually pretty neat, and it is simply perfect for a 2 plus year old to run around and look at the displays.  We had a real fun time.  I dropped them off and took buses home, stopping at the butcher on the way for tonight's dinner.  The sun had come out, the roads were drying rapidly, and I decided on a ride.  I really needed to clean and lube the bike and had to pick up Viola at school to take her home, so I only had an hour and one half to make it work.  

I did what has become a pretty standard short ride, but it was great as always.  Just a thin wool base layer t-shirt and a long sleeved jersey, as when the sun comes out now it provides some real warmth.  I rode through Piazza della Cure then up one of my back ways to San Domenico, then up the Fiesole road to the turn for Maiano.  On the way I stopped to take a couple of the pictures below, and a rider stopped to ask me about my jersey, which was from the gran fondo a week and one half ago.  It turned out he was one of the prime organizers of the event, and I rode and talked with him until the turn for Maiano, where I said goodbye or ciao.  I descended past Maiano to the Chiesa San Martino, then did the Vincligliata climb, which is steep, but I love it.  Around 2/3 of the way up the climb, I saw the same rider coming down and we said hi.  At the connection with the road at the top, I turned toward Fiesole, then descended though Fiesole, turning off to continue my descent to Pian de Mugnone.  Here I joined Via Faentina, and rode the 8 or so kilometers of gradual descent back through Piazza della Cure then home to the apartment.  Loved it.  

Check the link for all the info, but the summary is:  14.6 miles in 1:13 rolling time for an average of 11.9 with 1650 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 59.  Ciao!

A couple of views of Florence from the road to Fiesole / Maiano.

The pretty road below Vincigliata.

Looking across the valley toward Montorsoli from just above Fiesole.

A view of the road above Vincigliata.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quick ride - up / down - rain / sun / cloudy by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The forecast was for 100% rain today, so I had decided not to ride.  Em and I did some grocery shopping, and the roads started to dry out and the sun came out.  I decided to go.  As soon as I had my stuff together, was suited and booted, it started to rain.  I went anyway, and the rain stopped in 10 minutes.  I rode up Via Bolognese and was planning on going to Pratolino, then Monte Morello, when the sprinkles returned and looking up, Monte Morello was totally covered in clouds.  I took the shorter ride and turned off at Pian de San Bartolo, and went over / up to Cercina and the church above the small town.  I took the far right descent option, which has become a favorite.  It is just a super fun descent.  At the bottom of the descent I decided on a short climb which took me back into the Carriege area the back way.  From there I turned off the main, and trafficked road and took the back way over toward Via Bolognese, then down to Piazza Georgini, then home.  Really fun.  14.8 miles in 1:15 rolling time for an average speed of 11.8 mph with 1570 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 58.  Ciao!

Quick ride - up / down - rain / sun / cloudy by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Raduno? Well, a few of us were there! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I started this morning with most of my real rain gear with me, as it had not started, but the skies were threatening.  We were to meet at Illiopesca, and within 15 minutes of our scheduled time, we had a pretty good group, 7 of us.  We went to where we were to meet to start the raduno, and only two other riders were there.  It had started raining pretty hard as we waited, and we assumed it was called off due to weather.  A few from our squadra decided to do short rides and go home, but 4 of us joined the other two and started off to do the planned long course.  The sun came out almost immediately, and I was now overdressed with my rain pants on.  We went through Scandicci over to Galluzzo, the out through Tavernuzze to Falciani.  After Falciani, we turned off on a nice road, steep at times to Impruneta.  I pulled off to take off my rain pants, as the weather looked great.  Everyone else continued, and I got back on asap so as not to be dropped.  One person, Paolo, was slower than me, particularly on the climbs, and I passed him soon.  With the pressure off, I took off my rain shell and stuffed it in my back pocket.

We waited in Impruneta fro Paolo, then climbed / traversed on a ridge to Strada in Chianti, then continued on the main road climbing to Chiocchio, then descending to Passo dei Peccorai.  We hooked up with Via Cassia for a couple of kilometers, then turned off to ride by Castello Gabbiano climbing to Quattro Strade.  We continued straight on the back road that heads over to another ridge, but has 4 or so steep ups and downs.  When you hit the ridge, you turn right, then almost immediately go left and descend to Fabbrica.  Here we joined a main road, #2, and climbed slightly up the valley, then climbed to San Casciano.  We got some water in San Casciano at a new spot for me - I have it in my memory banks now.  There was a discussion there, as the course was to go over to Chiesa Nuova from here, but took a different way through San Casciano and ended up descending to Cerbia.  Paolo was just ahead of me here, and the remainder of the group was gone.  He thought he saw someone going up toward Chiesa Nuova, but I recalled sort of understanding a conversation about going around to Montelupo.  We continued up Chiesa Nuova, and never saw the others again.  They must have indeed gone to Montelupo.  It was fine, the four of them were faster, and I was ready to turn it for home.

All in all, a great tour.  Sunny almost all the time, and being a Colorado boy, a week without sun is a long time, so the nice weather on the ride today was really welcome.  It is already back to rain, and predicted to be this way for another week or so.  The summary is:  55 miles in 3:54 rolling time for an average of 14.2 mph with 5375 vertical feet climbed at an average temp of 58.  Really sweet!  Check the link for maps and more information.

Raduno? Well, a few of us were there! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fun ride with rain on and off.

I really was planning on a walk today, as yesterday in the real rain, it was quite wet and wasn't begging for repetition.  This morning we actually saw the sun, the roads dried up partially, and I decided, go for it.  Well, as soon as I started more moisture came in, but it wasn't much more than isolated sprinkles.  At times it was steady light rain, but that was not the majority of time.  It seems that if it is not steady it is fine to be out there.  I really enjoyed today's ride.  Super green, birds singing, no real sun, but no hard rain either.  

I rode out through Piazza della Cure, then up Via Faentina to Pian de Mugnone.  I climbed to Fiesole from Pian de Mugnone, then continued up to the turn off toward Compiobbi.  I continued past the Vincigliata road to the descent toward Settignano.  I cut off to the right 2/3 the way down, which brings you right to the start of the Vincigliata climb.  This is a really cool descent, the road becomes smaller as you go, but I saw no traffic today, so it was like a bike path just for me and a few pedestrians.  I climbed up through Vincigliata to the road back over to Fiesole, then headed down through Fiesole, taking one of the options off the main road in San Domenico.  There are a number of possibilities even after you start this descent, and I tried a new one today.  It was a pretty rough road surface, at times steep, and ended up on a steeply descending piece of old cobbles, wet and looking slippery.  Probably not the route I will use in the future.  There are probably 6 different ways down from San Domenico though, which allows some exploration.  

I loved getting out and was not discouraged by the weather.  A Raduno tomorrow with the team.  We will see how many people show up, in particular if the weather is marginal.  I will probably go anyway, as today's ride got me stoked regardless of the weather.  Click the link for all the information, but the summary is:  19 miles in 1:38 rolling time for an average of 11.6 mph with 2400 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 56.  Sweet to be out.  Ciao. 

A couple of pictures just below Fiesole on the climb from Pian de Mugnone.  
First, the large block masonry caught my eye.  These masons were not 
beginners.  Then, the road going into a switchback looked cool.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Riding in the rain! March 6 and 8 rides by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Sorry, no pictures today from either ride.  The March 6 (Wednesday) ride is a mistake to be on here.  I rode to a villa above Bagno a Ripoli to do a couple of hours of handyman work, then returned.  I had the garmin on, so it kept track (after I turned on the timer) of the ride there and back.  I thought by turning it off in between rides, it would keep separate track of today's ride, but I should had heeded the read-out suggesting I hold the reset button in for a certain amount of time.  Next time.

Today, after a couple of days of rain, not hard, but pretty steady, I decided I would ride regardless.  I have some pretty good clothing for riding in the rain, and put it all on.  I climbed up Via Bolognese, to Pratolino, where I turned off to go up toward Bivigliano.  I cut to the east there, and joined the road down to Fiesole.  The climb was actually pretty good in the steady precipitation, but descending you get pretty wet, and I keep it relatively slow as not to do any sliding on the super curvy roads.  I certainly did not see anyone else out riding, and got a number of looks that I translate to say, what are you thinking.  Well, I thought that a few times on the descent.  I had thought I might add another hill and descent, but by the time I was at the decision point, I was not thinking of anything but my return.

I am still happy to have ridden, although peeling off the outer layers and trying not to make a mess in the newly cleaned (by Emily) apartment was a challenge.  I have a towel under where I store the bike, and wiped it down pretty good outside the apartment.  There is a raduno, which is a group ride with all the area teams invited, this Sunday, which I am planning on riding in.  If it is raining this hard, however, I don't know what I will do.  We will see on Sunday.  The forecast is for more of the same, so I will just have to get better at riding in the rain or go for some walks.

The link is below, but the summary is 29 miles in 2:21 rolling time for an average of 12.3 mph with 2750 vertical feet gained at an average temperature of 53.  Ciao!

Riding in the rain! March 6 and 8 rides by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fun, but rainy ride today through Montagana

On Tuesdays, Emily normally babysits all day, and I pick up Viola from school and spend the remainder of the day with them until we return home.  I usually try to clean the apartment, grocery shop, and fit in a short ride, as it is the least I could do with Emily doing the heavy lifting on the babysitting.  The forecast for today was cloudy, but warm with a very slight chance of rain.   The next few days were forecast to be colder and rainy.  So, I decided to blow off the cleaning after returning from the grocery shopping.  I headed out, and it was cloudy, but not too cold, but not warm either.  After an hour or so, it started cooling off, then in another 1/2 hour the light rain started.  

At this point I had ridden from the apartment through the Cascine, then through the back roads to Lastra  and Lastra a Signa.  I had climbed up the small pass then was starting to drop down to Ginestra Fiorentina.  Looking around, I was thinking it was simply a passing shower, and continued with my plan and from Ginestra rode toward Cerbia, turning off for the climb up the ridge on the tiny back road to Montagana.  Well, the light rain just kept on coming and got a little stronger with time.  By the time I was descending from Montagana to Cerbia, the roads were soaked and it was a steady light but consistent rain with a temperature around 50.  Not the best conditions, but actually fine.  I headed home through Cerbia, Chiesa Nuova, dropped down the switchbacks to Galluzzo, then climbed to Poggio Imperiale and hit the Viales home.  

Actually, I was cold and a little wet, but it was a good ride and it is always great to get out.  The summary is:  37 miles in 2:44 rolling time for an average speed of 13.4 mph with 2050 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 52.  Check the link for more information.  Ciao!

These are three views from the same spot, on the ridge to
the west of Montagana.  The valley is the torrente Pesa, and the 
ridge beyond is to the south of Scandicci.  A little cold and rainy, 
but still beautiful.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The weather today lived up to it's prediction.  I only wore a short sleeved base layer t-shirt with a long sleeved riding jersey.  I went by the shop on the way out, as they have a 50% off sale, and I bought a new helmet and some very light weight booties.  I wore my light tights for the first time in 3 months, and the light weight booties were great.  I bought the helmet because I have a few people who want to use / rent my old bikes while on a tour, and I need to have helmets.  The sale was on soft goods only, but they gave me a 50% on the helmet as well - thanks.  I left from the shop and rode the Viale out to Piazza Ferrucci then proceeded to Bagno a Ripoli.

I then climbed up through Osteria Nuova to San Donato in Collina, then descended down to the turn off for the back road on the west side of the Arno river.  On the way, I stopped for a cafe machiatto at a place I have ridden past many times and it is almost always busy.  It was great - this is a fun, new habit and it makes me explore more bars in the countryside.  I crossed the river and went toward Lecchio, then climbed up toward Regello, turning off for Pietrapiana then over to Donnini where I took the road to Tosi.  This is a great, fun climb, and today with such perfect weather, it was great.  The descent from Tosi is wonderful.  You cruise quickly through a few towns with a couple of short climbs before coming to Pelago where there is a slightly longer climb.  You descend / climb from Pelago to the main road to Pontesieve which is a longer descent.  From Pontesieve, it is basically downhill in the Arno river valley pedalling pretty hard (the flats and speed seem to be my weakest point) back to town, but averaging around 30 kph.  

Just a wonderful ride today - peaceful, enjoying the emergence of spring, birds singing, flowers just starting to come out, perfect.  The summary is 47.5 miles in 3:23 rolling time for an average speed of 14.0 mph with 3650 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 65, which includes the effects of the sun.  Sweet.  Check the link below for more information if you wish.  Ciao.

Almost a "Colorado" blue sky - in an olive grove just 
outside of San Donato in Collina.

The beautiful road between Osteria Nuova and San Donato.

The first wild Irises I have seen this spring.
I took this picture mostly for my friends Don and Kay who love 
the spring Irises here, but are skipping this spring for a trip here next fall.

On the way to Pietrapiana these old buildings framed the snow capped 
mountains (hills) perfectly.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Short, easy ride to flush the lactic from yesterday. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The weather is nothing short of spectacular today.  It is sunny, calm, and around 60.  After yesterday's effort, I took a short ride and tried to keep it flat, although I still climbed 580 vertical.  I simply wanted to release the lactic acid in the legs from yesterday's effort.  I went out the Viale to the Cascine, and did a short loop through the park, as it was totally crowded with people just wanting to be out and about.  From the Cascine, I re-joined the Viales and from Porta Romana took the curvy route up to the Tavernuzze junction, then climbed to Poggio Imperiale, descending to Galluzzo, then out and around on the Cinque Vie road back to the Viale at Piazza Ferruci.  From there, back home.  I kept the gearing easy, and hopefully it worked as I feel quite good now.  15.4 miles in 1:10 rolling time for an average of 12.9 mph with 580 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 60.  Sweet!

Short, easy ride to flush the lactic from yesterday. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Finally, the gran fondo - Great, but tiring.

Yesterday was the gran fondo.  I signed up for it as a group tour, but over the last few months it became obvious to me that the team was taking it more seriously, as a race.  I rode somewhere in the middle, but realistically, I would have had a hard time doing the long course any faster than I did.  I could have omitted my one stop for a caffe machiato, but I don't even know if that would have made me any faster.  The whole team met at the shop, where they had some crostata for us.  It was a fun scene, with everyone ready for the day.  The day started a little chilly, and it was relatively cold standing in the starting area for 45 minutes.  The starting area was probably around 1/3 of a mile long, and filled with riders.  We were in group A, the first group of 1000 or so, and it was packed.  Looking around, there were many teams from different parts of Italy, and most everyone appeared to be taking this relatively seriously.

We finally got started almost exactly on time, and I had enough warning to remove the light rain / wind shell I had on to stay warmer.  The weather was better than forecast, and it was mostly clear and clearing.  The forecast wind was certainly evident though.  We started with a very fast run through the center of town - everything blocked off, spectators two to three deep and cheering.  Yes, it can be your tour fantasy.  After around 10 minutes, we were out of town and on our way up to pass Piazzale Michaelangelo.  The riders were spread out a little more by now, which was good.  There continued to be a fairly large group all together all the way to the San Casciano climb.  Everyone I was around (the team split up quickly, as different people had different speeds they were comfortable with) was pretty experienced and it felt fine to be in such a large group.  We were really going quite fast, around 55 k on the slight uphill from Tavernuzze to the San Casciano climb.

At San Casciano, I would guess around 3/4 of the people turned off to do the short course, and I kept straight to do the great descent down that hill.  From the base of the descent you have around 5 to 10 k of gradual climbing in a valley.  There were a number of groups, and if I could push to stay with the right one, we rolled pretty fast, and it helped with the wind which really started blowing at this point.  You then climb up to San Donato, which is mostly in the trees, so the wind was not much of a factor.  By now, I was recognizing the people I was more of less riding with.  I tend to climb and descend faster than most of this group, but they are definitely stronger at pushing it on the relative flats.  The climbing gets a little steeper after San Donato, and it is a pretty good haul up to Casellina in Chianti.  A good descent from Casellina, then mostly up to Radda in Chianti.  With very good signage and a group, there was no possibility of missing the turn this time.

I descended quickly to the valley that goes to Lucarelli.  As we hit the slightly descending valley, I let the group go, as I did not want to blow it out too much.  Here, Leif, a friend and member of the team caught me.  I had been expecting this for a while, as he is definitely stronger than I, but was in the second group at the start.  We rode together all they way back to Firenze, which was really a help.  He pulled more than I, but I did most of my share.  We also accumulated a group after Panzano of around 8 that mostly took turns at the front.  We did stop in Panzano for a caffe machiato, which was full of good energy.  After Greve, you continue descending then turn off for another climb to Strada, then kind of ride a ridge / climb / descend to a real descent into Grassina.  In Grassina, we met another team mate who had blown out too much energy on the way to Casellina, and was struggling a little.  We three then rode together until the climb to Fiesole.  Leif stayed with Dominick, but I was tired and needed to stay with my own pace and dropped them on the climb.  

I do this climb all the time, but rarely when I am that tired.  It was fine, then I descended to Pian de Mugnone, where we hit Via Faentina until the short but steep Via Salviati stretch.  I was back with a couple of the guys we had ridden from Panzano with, and one knew that a steep piece was coming up, but did not know where.  I did my best to communicate it in my fractured Italian, but when we hit it, his eyes lit up and he exclaimed something in Italian I did not understand.  It is only around 1/4 mile, but there is a piece that climbs 3 to 400 vertical at 20%.  After this, it was mostly a cruise to the finish.  At the finish, my legs immediately cramped as I got off the bike, but I was able to stretch them out, and had no problems afterward.  I drank and ate lots, then met with other team mates and we enjoyed the "pasta party".  

Overall, quite a fun but challenging day.  I love being here and riding in the ciclisti cultura.  The summary is:  79.4 miles in 4:48 rolling time for an average speed of 16.5 mph with 5875 vertical climbed at a great average temperature (which includes the effect of the sun) of 58.  The garmin link is below.  A prossimo!

The team meeting at the shop before riding to the start area.

A few shots of the start area - members of the team, and
one of the mass in front of us, and we were in group A.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sign in - day one of Bicifi; Shake out ride.

I spent most of the day picking up my packet for the gran fondo tomorrow and exploring the exhibitions at the first annual Bicifi - Bike festival of Florence.  It was fun checking everything out.  I had many occasions to use my mediocre at best Italian asking multiple questions of many different people to try to understand exactly how and where the race tomorrow will start and wind through town.  Overall, it was very fun.  Lots of cool bikes, some great exhibitions of past champions, vintage bike clothing, and many other things.  I picked up a new long sleeved jersey with the logo and theme of bicifi.  It is a light weight jersey for long sleeves and will hopefully come in handy soon without other clothing added.  

I returned home, and wore the new jersey on a short ride to make sure everything - the bike, my body, and my mind were ready for the long race / tour tomorrow.  I picked up a chip and am registered, so it is kind of a race.  I am not in the "race category" as that requires a blood test when you do your annual physical.  Hopefully, no one in this event will be so serious that any enhancement will be going on.  I am about 2/3 of the way through Tyler Hamilton's book, The Secret Race, and actually, I imagine there are some people participating that will be enhanced.  That is kind of scary, but apparently the way life is these days.  I rode up Via Bolognese to the turn off for Cercina in San Bartolo, cut across / climbed past Cercina to the church above the town, then did the descent option #4, which is really nice.  I feel great and ready for tomorrow.  Let's hope I feel the same way after the ride tomorrow.  The summary for today is:  13.7 miles in 1:07 rolling time for an average of 12.2 mph with 1520 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 52.  The garmin link is below.  Ciao.

Old townies at one of the exhibition halls.

Fiorenzo Magni's bike from the 1959 Giro and Tour.

Fashionistas in bike kits with at least 6" heels - you gotta love Italy.

A gardening sculpture outside one of the exhibition halls.

More old townies - cool.