Sunday, June 30, 2013

Super fun day with Dominick's company. Thanks for the ride, ragazzi.

I received an email from Leif a couple of days ago asking me to join in a VIP ride on Sunday.  I immediately said yes, as I need to do everything I can to get my name and services out there.  The ride was in conjunction with Dom's company, Luxury Italian Tours, who I am starting to do some work for.  I met Leif at his apartment at 6:45, we rode to Dom's, where Roberto, our van driver, met us and we drove out to Fonterutoli.  We met Paul, Christina, and Tom there.  Paul is a very strong rider from California, and he was joining for the ride.  We all drove back into Castellina for a cafe to get the day started, then back to Fonterutoli to get started.  Paul was obviously fit, and as he set up the rental bike we had brought, it was obvious he was an experienced rider.  I later found out he was the California state champion a few years ago.

We started back up hill toward Castellina, then turned off to descend toward Colle in Val D'elsa.  A really sweet descent.  From there, we headed over, then up to San Gimignano.  On the way we encountered a bike race with cars, support vehicles, motorcycles, the whole nine yards.  We stopped and found a spot by the side of the road, and as the racers came by we could see they were juniors.  They were at the bottom of a hill, and they were really flying.  So cool to see young racers totally kitted out and really riding at a high level.  The Italian cycling culture is really fun to be around.  There were probably around 150 racers.

We climbed to San Gimignano, which was quite nice, and stopped there for a cafe and a pastry.  Fuel to keep it going.  Paul proved to be quite fast, and it was an effort at times to stay with him.  From San Gimignano, we had a spectacular descent to Certaldo.  It is a road I have climbed many times, but never descended.  That was a mistake, as it is long, fast, but at a grade where you don't really need to hit the brakes much, if at all.  From Certaldo, over to Poggibonsi on a pretty main road, then a break - water, food, etc. from the van.  We then climbed to Castellina a 20 kilometer climb, very gentle and very fast.  I was feeling very strong, and stayed at the front most of the time.  I know that either Paul or Leif could drop me if they wished, but it did not really happen.

We had a super lunch in Castellina, just out of town to the south.  Really excellent food, a few beers, wine, water, and of course, cafe.  Paul, Leif, and I rode to Fonterutoli, and Dom rode in the van.  Great day - 53.4 miles in 3:10 rolling time for an average speed of 16.8 mph with 3615 vertical feet climbed at a sun affected average temperature of 82.  Loved it!

Sweet San Gimiano ride with Dom, Leif, and Paul. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Dom, Paul, and Leif just after the descent from Castellina which got our day started.

We were surprised to have advance cars, motorcycles, and
the whole race circus come by as a junior class race joined our
planned course for the day.  They were young, but were really flying.

Paul, Leif, and Dom on the way to San Gimignano.

Dom and Paul - friends re-united for a ride in Tuscany.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Super fun close in Chianti ride.

It seems I am often catching up with some things lately, which I again did this morning.  I am getting busier and have work commitments tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.  All of these are through my friends Leif and Dominick.  Thanks, guys.  I was off on my ride by 12:30, and figured my planned ride would be around 3 hours.  The last two days I was a little low on energy, and was hoping to get back to myself today.  I started out on the viales and climbed past Piazzale Michaelangelo the over an up to Poggio Imperiale.  Sweet short descent to Galluzzo, the the regular road to Impruneta, which was good.  Although I wasn't pushing it, on purpose, I was still at my 2nd or 3rd best time.  I took a different route through Impruneta that I rode with the team at last Sunday's raduno, and remembered the route well, and was on the super fun descent to the valley just below Ferrone.  You take a left at the main valley road, and the Luiano turn off is only around 100 meters away.

The road and climb through Luiano is always fun an beautiful.  After hitting the Mercatale road, I turned left immediately to descend, then climb to Montefiridolfi.  I changed some of the read outs on my Garmin, and watched the percent read out for the climb, which topped at 15%, which is close to what I thought, and pretty steep.  I rode the ridge road over to Bibbione, then descended into another valley, turning right to ride up the valley, then climb to San Casciano.  Again, I was trying not to push, but ended up pretty fast anyway.  I must be getting stronger.  From San Casciano, over through Chiesa Nuova, then down the fun switchbacks to Galluzzo.  From Galluzzo, the back way around town, over to the Cinque Vie road, then home.  Super fun and great to have my mojo back.  The summary is:  39.8 miles in 2:54 for an average speed of 13.7 mph with 3166 vertical feet of climbing at a sun affected average temperature of 82.  Love it!

Impruneta, Luiano, Montefiridolfi, San Casciano, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Vineyards on the Luiano climb.

The nice piazza in the center of Montefiridolfi.

On the ridge ride just past Montefiridolfi.

Quick close in ride.

Despite thinking I would take the day off the bike, I finished a number of errands, house cleaning, etc. and had a couple of hours before Emily and I were to leave to pick up Viola from her last day of school for this year.  After picking up Viola, Em and I took her to the Hard Rock Cafe here to have hot fudge sundaes, one of her favorites.  I don't think she really cared much about the last day of school for the year, but she did enjoy the sundae.  A fun outing for the grandparents though.

Before picking up Viola, I decided to get out, and did a pretty standard close ride.  Up Via Bolognese to Pian de San Bartolo, then over through Cercina to the Church above the town.  From there, descent option number 4 and home.  It is really a great ride.  The climb up Via Bolognese is relatively gentle, as the steep portion starts just after the turn off.  The road descending / climbing through Cercina to the Church above the town is simply wonderful, twisty, tiny, great views, pretty perfect.  At the church there are two options for descent, I took the right option, then took the second left option from that road.  One of my favorite descents.  All in all a sweet ride.  13.4 miles in 1:05 for an average of 12.5 mph with 1300 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 79.

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

I am loving all the new pavement just completed for the 
upcoming world championships.  This is on Via Bolognese
just above our apartment.

The view to the East from just before Cercina.

A view toward Florence from just past Cercina.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Scouting ride for a tour Tuesday in the Chianti hills.

I have a tour through Leif and Dominick on Tuesday in an area I know well, but the destination I did not know at all.  It is good I checked it out, as there were a couple of possibilities and I first took the wrong one.  I ended up on a "jeep" road, that was definitely better suited for a mountain bike.  This involved some walking, as I was happy doing most things on my road bike, but some parts were just too sketchy.  I retraced my route after finding it was definitely wrong, and then pretty easily found the right road.  The correct road just involved turning off one place earlier, and it was a dirt road and did not need a mountain bike.  This all happened in the San Donato in Poggio area finding Podere La Capella, where we will have a tour and lunch on Tuesday.

I left home and rode the viales past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then descended to the road through Galluzzo and climbed through Tavernuzze, staying on the road past Falciani and climbing the real climb to San Casciano.  I am planning on the support vehicle dropping us here, as we have a nice descent to the valley, then ride slightly uphill through the valley to Sambuca, where we start a real climb to San Donato.  By the time we are at this climb, I will know how fit everyone is and decide if we want to use the support van or not.  I found the Podere (see above), then headed off to finish my ride.  I turned off the road to Castellina and descended / climbed / descended through La Piazza to the climb to Panzano.

I started feeling pretty energetic on the Panzano climb, and decided to do the sometimes steep up and down ridge road over to Quattro Strade.  It was a good decision, as the riding was fun, but I was definitely getting tired.  From Quattro Strade I climbed through Mercatale to San Casciano, then contoured through Spedellatto to Chiesa Nuova.  By now I was feeling pretty beat, and took the first road down to Scandicci, then back home on the main roads.  I guess the last 5 days were taking a slight toll on my energy level.  Ride summary is:  62.9 miles in 4:39 rolling time for an average speed of 13.5, which is pretty good when you factor in the very slow exploration around San Donato.  I climbed 4960 vertical feet at and average temperature for the ride of 84 including the effect of the sun.

Tavernuzze, San Casciano, San Donato, Panzano, Quattro Strade - scouting by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Beautiful vineyards in the Panzano area.

I believe that is Radda on the hilltop in the distance.

Vineyards on the climb to Panzano from the Radda side.

Taking the ridge climb to Quattro Strade, I found some water and 
a bench with a nice view.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Montescenario climb, new pavement on the descent from Fiesole.

I was babysitting all morning, then had a number of things to catch up on on the computer.  Everything complete, I decided on a ride and felt, for whatever reason, like a climb.  I decided on Montescenario, although you never know once I get started where decisions will take me.  Today, I stayed with the plan, and felt great climbing to the top of the hill.  It is a pretty direct around 3000 vertical from the apartment to the top of this hill where there is a monastery / sanctuario from the 1200's which is still in operation today.  It is a challenging climb with a couple of sections at 10 to 15%, but it seems easier every time I do it.  Today, I just felt good pretty much all the way up.

I have been watching the progress on the repaving of the road to Fiesole, and thought it would be complete, so I decided to descend from Bivigliano to Fiesole, then down into Florence on the main road from Fiesole.  New pavement is such a pleasure and it feels so good to ride it.  The road was getting pretty rough, and descending on a road bike at around 40 plus mph, you really have to watch for the holes.  Not any longer, just relax and let it fly.  Beautiful, perfect pavement, just completed for the course of the world championships here at the end of September.  Every time I ride these newly paved roads, it gets me excited for the upcoming event.

Anyway, great fun ride today in pretty perfect weather, although when not in the trees, I did fight a head wind on the way up.  Most of the way up is in the trees, so no worries.  Ride summary is:  25.5 miles in 1:49 rolling time for an average speed of 14 mph with 2715 vertical feet of climbing at an average sun affected temperature of 77.  What a nice day!

Pratolino, Montescenario, Fiesole, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

From a couple of days ago, part of a beautiful rainbow
over Florence in a thunderstorm.

A statue at the top.

The view toward Florence.

One of the views toward Prato from Montescenario.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Super fun solo ride after a tour cancellation.

First, sorry, no pictures today.  When I tried my first photo, the camera said to charge the battery.  Oh well, believe me, it was  a beautiful day and after yesterday afternoon's rain and wind, the air was crystalline.  Hey, it sounds better than my photography skills anyway.  Yesterday, I spent the day traveling to the coast south of Livorno, then previewing a ride, finding a vineyard, setting up a vineyard tour and tasting, etc., with Dominick, who owns the tour company I will do the tour for.  I did not include that ride in the blog, as I stopped the riding part of the preview in some pretty heavy rain, and did not stop the garmin, so the return trip in the car was recorded.  I thought about posting it, but I am nowhere near that fast, and did not think it was right to do it.  When I do the tour on July 6, I will post from the tour.  It was a good day, I got to know Dominick better, I understand how he wants the tours run, and as a guide, I really need to know where I am going before I take others there.  I think we have a super tour planned for the people on the 6th now.  I will be learning how to use a support vehicle, and will be able to incorporate one into my own tours by collaborating with Dom from the other direction in the future.

Yesterday afternoon, when we had pretty much figured everything out, I got a call from Florence by Bike, needing a guide for a tour today for a private group.  They also would have a support vehicle.  I said yes, as at this point, I need all the work and exposure I can get.  Monica called back, and said she had to set some things up, and would get back to me to verify.  For whatever reason, I received no call back, and was assuming that the tour was not happening.  I decided to be at the shop at 9 anyway, just in case, and ride from there solo if there was not tour.  No tour, but hopefully some brownie points by being there on time, and perhaps more tours for them in the future.

I took off from the shop, and came back by the apartment, then up the pallazzuolo road to San Domenico, then up the new pavement toward Fiesole, turning to descend through Maiano to San Martino, then did the Vincigliata climb, always a favorite of mine.  I went left at the top of the climb, and connected to the road to Croce alla Vetta, and enjoyed that scenic and gentle climb.  I decided on the way up to descend on the main road to Sieci, as I rarely do this, and it was super fun.  I almost took the road from Molin de Piano up to Doccia, but decided to take the climb from Sieci to Molino de Vento, as this is one of my old favorites which I rarely climb anymore.  Super fun today, and I enjoyed the spectacular weather.  Sunny, relatively cool, with little to no wind.  Wow.

I descended to Rufina, got some water in the bottle, and climbed another of my favorites to Diacetto.  Descending from Diacetto to Pelago is always great, and I now seem to stop at the same bar there for a cafe.  I ordered a slice of pizza today, and cafe normale (a single shot espresso) instead of my usual machiato.  Nice break in the shade of an umbrella on their terrace.  I then rode over to the Consuma road, and picked up a riding partner on the way.  He passed me slowly, and of course, I hung on.  We descended to Pontesieve together, then he went toward Rufina, and I went back to Firenze through Pontesieve, Sieci, Le Falle, etc.  What a great ride on a great day.  I am loving it here.  The summary is:  51.7 miles in 3:53 rolling time for an average speed of 13.3 mph with 4780 vertical feet climbed at a sun affected average temperature of 78.  Ciao.

Vincigliata, Vetta, Sieci, Molino de Vento, Rufina, Diacetto by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Candeli raduno with the team.

Up quite early this morning to meet the team for a raduno.  We only had 4 of us plus a friend of Domenico's, which is plenty for a great ride.  We rode to the start point, signed up, and got started.  It was an interesting course with lots of up and down.  We rode back into town, up past Piazzale Michaelangleo, then down to Galluzzo.  We rode out of Galluzzo, up the switchbacks on Via Volterrana, then over through Chiesa Nuova to the turn off for San Andrea in Percussina, just before Spedellato.  A really nice descent to Scopeti, then back toward Tavernuzze, turning off to climb to Impruneta through Bagnolo.  I had never climbed this road before, although I had descended it many times.  On the start, Luca, Domenico's friend dropped his chain, or so I thought, and I continued to do the climb with Alessandro.  We waited at the top for everyone, and when Domenico and Luigi arrived, they said Luca had broken the chain.  I felt bad, as I do bring a chain tool with me, and probably could have repaired his chain.  Luca took a cab back to town, and we continued.  I did not try to explain this in Italian, as the decisions had already been made.

From Impruneta, we descended to Ferrone, then rode out the road toward Greve, turning off to do the climb through Le Bolle and Chiocchio where we gave the officials our controllo cards.  We continued over to Strada, and at the second roundabout, I spaced out and made a wrong turn and started a descent to Ferrone.  Domenico realized this, and we stopped and climbed back up then on the correct route, we rode down to Grassina, then turned up to Antella, and completed our last real climb to Osteria Nuova.  We regrouped and headed down to Bagno a Ripoli, then back over to Candeli.  Some nice snacks, a bottle of wine for each participant and a 5th place trophy for the team.  Great ride fellas.  Summary is:  57.2 miles in 3:37 rolling time for an average speed of 15.8 mph with 3500 vertical feet climbed at a perfect temperature of 72.  Sweet.

Raduno Candeli con squadra by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Domenico, Alessandro, and Luigi at the finish.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Excellent client ride with Daniel from Dallas.

Daniel and I met at the apartment around 9:30, set up the lightspeed with his pedals and adjusted the seat height, and were off on our ride before 10.  The weather was pretty perfect.  The real heat of the last few days appears to have left us, which is nice.  We started off through the city and rode through the Cascine to the back way to Signa, then Lastra a Signa.  Daniel rides a fair amount in Dallas and is a dedicated cyclist, but does not ride many hills.  I picked a ride that I often do with the team that minimizes climbing but is pretty long distance wise on relatively quiet roads.  From Lastra, we rode along the river to Montelupo, and I found a new water source there by asking in the main town square. From Montelupo, we rode slightly up, then over through Samontanna, Pozzole, then easily found the road to Monterappoli.

I told Daniel this was our first real climb, and off we  went.  He struggled a little, and I waited at the top of the first pitch.  He was not used to climbing and had stayed in the big ring.  We discussed this and he switched to the small ring, then was fine.  We finished the climb and tried to find a bar in Monterappoli, but they directed us to keep riding toward Castelfiorentino.  We descended from Monterappoli, then caught the main road to Castelfiorentino, stopping on the way for a cafe and pastry.  We continued to Castelfiorentino, then climbed up to the ridge and did the beautiful ridge climb with a few descents mixed in to Montespertoli.  With the help of some locals, I found the relocated water location there and we refilled water bottles.  The weather was cooler, but still pretty hot.

From Montespertoli, we rode back by descending to Bacciano, then up to Montagnana, down to Cerbia, and up to Chiesa Nuova where we again refilled water.  By Chiesa Nuova, Daniel had pretty much had enough climbing, so we were in a good spot.  We returned by way of Galluzzo, the Cinque Vie road, and then back on the viales.  A nice day!  Ride summary is:  60 miles in 4:23 riding time for an average of 13.7 mph with 2920 vertical feet climbed at a sun affected average temperature of 89.  Nice ride, Daniel, and thanks for "Riding with Cosimo"

Great client ride with Daniel - Montelupo, Monterappoli, Castelfiorentino by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

On the way to Samontanna.

In the Monterappoli area with vineyards in the background.

Climbing to Montespertoli, che bella!

Daniel on the ridge climb from Castelfiorentino to Montespertoli.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Group hike on the Burraie trails around Santa Brigida

Yesterday, I had my first group of clients requesting a hike.  I added hiking as an alternative to cycling last summer when I was getting the business started.  I had hiked in the Santa Brigida area quite a bit when we lived up there and got very familiar with a wonderful set of trails there.  Many of the trails center around a group of "Burraie", which were structures built into hillsides where a continuous water source flowed through.  They were made to cool and keep butter for the people in the area in the early 1900's.  I met Sam and his group at Pasticerria Liberta around 9.  They had wanted to meet at 8, I was there, but they had not understood the traffic situation in Florence.  Anyway, we had a nice cafe and pastry, then headed out to Santa Brigida.

They had two rental cars, as they were staying in a villa in the Lucca area.  We basically hiked to 3 different burriae, hiking around 3 hours with around 1 hour of rest stops.  Some of the trails are quite steep on the way up, but everyone hung in there and enjoyed our walk.  We did a nice 6 mile or so loop, with I assume around 2000 vertical feet of climbing.  After returning to the cars, we drove the short distance to the wonderful restaurant at the Castello del Trebbio, and had a relaxing, excellent lunch.  One car returned me to very close to my apartment while the other car circumvented Firenze to return to Lucca.  Thanks everyone for being excellent clients and participating in my first hike with clients.  Ciao.

Here is the group after our first real climb in the 
beautiful courtyard at Madonna del Sasso.

The group at the first of three "Burraie" we visited.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quick afternoon ride close in with lots of climbing - of course.

I did a lot of catching up this morning, then grocery shopping, and a little preparation for taking a group hiking tomorrow.  By 3:30, I had finished everything I needed to do, and so, in spite of the heat, I took off for some riding close to home.  I chose my route based on my perception of shade, and mostly it worked pretty well.  I rode to San Domenico, then over to Maiano, then down, then up through Vincigliata, the over to the road above Fiesole.  I took this to Croce alla Vetta, then cut over to go up, then down to Pratolino where I did a much needed head dousing and water refill.  I descended from Pratolino to the turn off for Cercina, which I took.  Down, then up, then a long descent back into town on downhill option #2.  Lots of fun.  Ride summary is:  27.4 miles in 2:12 for an average speed of 12.5 with 2790 vertical feet of climbing at a hot average temperature of 96.  Ciao.

Vincigliata, L'Olmo, Montorsoli, Cercina, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

They are finally repaving the road to Fiesole.  I joined the road in San
Domenico, and thought it was perhaps all complete, but came upon 
the work in progress just before the Maiano turn off.  It will be nice
to have all the roads used in the World Championships repaved.

I doesn't show very well, but this picture is to show how
I was working on staying in shady places on today's ride.

Fun Chianti client ride with Chris from CB

Chris and I met at the apartment and we set him up on one of my bikes.  We took off through the city, and he was totally comfortable with city riding, which made things easier for me.  Thanks, Chris.  We headed out to Bagno a Ripoli, then up the hill through Osteria Nuova to San Donato in Collina.  We stopped for our first water fill up and either let water run on our heads or poured bottles over ourselves. It was already getting hot.  From San Donato, we did the fun descent through Troghi, Cellai, then stopped in Valli for a great espresso.  We enjoyed this in the shade, then continued with our descent with the two climbs that interrupt it to Incisa, then rode over on the industrial road to Figline.

We turned off at Figline and started the climb to Passo de Sugame.  We refilled, dunked our heads, etc., with water at a great spot on the way, then turned off to go to La Panca.  We did the very short descent, then climbed to La Panca.  Chris expressed a desire to stop for some lunch, but one restaurant in La Panca looked closed, and the other looked pretty sit down and not what we were looking for.  Around 1/3 the way down this super fun descent, we stopped at a nice restaurant that had a great outdoor sitting area.  They did not serve Pizza at lunch, but set us up with a great plate of meats, cheeses, bread, tomatoes, and salad to make paninis.  We enjoyed this along with a couple bottles of water, and got our bottles refilled before we left.

We finished the descent, then at Strada, took the turn to go down to Ferrone.  There we started down the main road toward Tavernuzze, but turned off to climb through Luiano, then returned through San Casciano to Chiesa Nuova.  A stop here for gelato, more water, then back to the city by way of Scandicci.  When we rolled into Florence the heat really hit, but we were back at the apartment before we knew it.  Great ride Chris, and thanks for "Riding with Cosimo".

Great but hot client ride in Chianti with Chris from CB by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Action shots on the road between Osteria Nuova and San Donato in Collina.

Chris just after our lunch stop.

A beautiful garden with Florence in the background, 
close to our lunch stop.

A shot of Chris between San Casciano and Spedellato.
I am getting better at the pictures behind me over my head.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thursday's ride in the Mugello before taking off for Scotland

Before taking off for a birthday party at a castle in Scotland (sound pretty cool) I fit in a nice around 4 hour ride in the Mugello.  One of my standard routes now, and I really enjoy it.  It was the first really warm day perhaps of the season.  Writing this on the next Tuesday, it has finally gotten really warm now.  Anyway, up Via Bolognese to Pratolino, down through Vaglia and San Piero a Sieve then turning toward San Agata.  A cafe machiato in San Agata, then over to Galliano, then the wonderful cut off through Bosco Ai Frati, then over to Croce alla Vetta, then descending home on Via Faentina.  Check the Garmin link for all the information.  Ciao.

Mugello - Vaglia, San Agata, Croce alla Vetta by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunny, clear, and a long vista in the San Agata area.

The tiny road on the way to San Agata.

The beautiful road between Bosco Ai Frati and San Piero.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sette Ponte with Dom and Le Due Ruote.

I am guiding a tour for another operator in early July, Dom, and he wanted to get together to ride and talk about the business and the tour.  We met at Le Due Ruote, and there was a pretty good showing from the team for the ride.  We started by going out to Pontesieve at a pretty reasonable pace, and Dom and I had most of our discussion then.  Dom has a good touring company, of which cycling tours are only a portion.  There are many future prospects, so, hopefully a good discussion for both of us.  For the July tour, I either need to go with Dom or by myself to preview the route and find the vineyard where we will have a tasting and a tour.  After my return from Scotland and my busy 5 days.

After Pontesieve, we followed the road on the east side of the river all the way over to the turn off for Mattissino.  The pace ramped up all the way from Pontesieve, and we were riding at what I consider a pretty good pace for a slight uphill most of the way, exceeding 35kph most of the time.  We turned off, and I did not really know where we were going, so I simply followed.  With a road closure changing what must have been the plan, we headed up to Castelfranco, then rode the sette ponte route to Reggello.  Super fun.  The whole group really pushed the pace, and it was great to do this wonderful stretch of road with a group of 7 pretty much hauling.  At Reggello, Dom and I stopped for a cafe and some water while the remainder of the group kept on going, at least in the direction of straight back down to the river road.

Dom and I had a nice cafe, then decided to ride at a mellower pace, but go over to Donnini, then climb to Tosi.  I had forgotten how much downhill there is between Reggello and Donnini, but there is quite a bit and it was fun.  In Donnini, we started the real climb to Tosi, one of my favorites, as the steepest part is first, then it mellows out to Tosi.  From Tosi, a great descent through Pelago, with a slight uphill into Pelago, then hooking up with the Consuma road and continuing the descent to Pontesieve.  We started down the main road from Pontesieve, but turned off and crossed the river to return to town on the other side, which turned out to be pretty fun.  Back into town, and home.

Another great ride.  I enjoyed a different group, although I did not really try to do much communication with them.  At the end, before Dom turned off we compared data on our Garmin units.  He had 1450 meters of climbing, while mine had 1060 meters of climbing.  Interesting.  I am thinking his may be more accurate due to the under recording of the 3200 meters of climbing on the Firenze / Modena course, which being a Giro route, is a known commodity.  Ride summary is:  66 miles in 4:04 rolling time for an average speed of 16.2 mph with 3510 vertical feet of climbing (my garmin's total) at an average sun affected temperature of 73.  Great day!

Sette ponte with Dom and Le Due Ruote by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A picture of the group in front of me leaving Castelfranco,
starting the super fun sette ponte portion of the ride.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monte Morello with some alterations.

It was pouring this morning, so I did some cleaning, email, etc., and the weather changed.  It was reasonably sunny when I left, and with some fairly long rides lately, I had a short ride in mind.  I climbed up Via Bolognese to the Monte Morello turn off, and continued climbing up the Monte Morello road.  As I continued, there were more signs about a road closure.  Eventually I figured out it was the road I was on, and eventually came to the closure just after the summit of the road, just below the summit of Monte Morello.  I retraced part of the route, and turned down the steep, fun, tiny road that hooks up with the road to Cercina.  It hooks in right at the church above Cercina, where I took the far right option for the descent home.  Always a fun descent, and today was no exception.  Anyway, a good, fun ride close to home.  The summary is:  19 miles in 1:29 rolling time for an average speed of 12.8 mph with 2044 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 73.

Monte Morello, with some changes. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The view from the top of the Monte Morello climb.
Also, the turn around spot today.

Here is a view on the tiny road from the Monte Morello
road to the church above Cercina.  Fun!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sieci raduno - lots of fun and good riding.

Up early again this morning for another ride with the team.  I usually don't do two days in a row on the weekend with the team, as riding with them usually pushes me pretty hard.  I am out of town next weekend, Emily, Kate, and the kids are out of town now, and I am feeling pretty strong now, and need to enjoy it while it lasts.  We me on the east side of Florence, and rode out to Sieci to check in together. Somehow, we just missed the start, so we were among the last to sign in.  No problem.  We started out toward Pontesieve, but turned off to cross the Arno close to Rosano, then rode back to Bagno a Ripoli.

At Bagno a Ripoli, we joined the climb to San Donato in Collina, a pretty standard climb for me.  Most of the other people on the team had not ridden this much, if at all, though.  We regrouped at the top, then enjoyed the descent, with a small climb to Pallazzuolo, to the turn off toward the river bridge.  We crossed the river, and continued on the main road on the other side before turning off for Mattassino.  We stayed with the course toward Pian di Sco, but at one junction signs were pointing both directions.  We followed the signs we thought were correct, but alas, we made a mistake.  I for one, was pretty certain we were following the correct signs until it became obvious I was wrong.  Apparently, multiple events were going on with very similar courses.

When we got to Reggello, we could not find the Controllo, but with some asking, and looking, we found it back toward Pian di Sco.  Anyway, no harm, no foul.  We all, with the exception of Alberto, who had not had the patience for our looking around, handed in our control cards there.  We had a cafe in a nice bar in Reggello, then started down toward the river.  A great descent, then back to the same bridge we had crossed over the Arno, earlier in the day.  We rode over to Rignano, then did the short, but quite difficult climb to Bombone, which Chris had at 19% for a long stretch.  The Italians tell me that Bombone means "splief", so take that for what it is worth.  From Bombone, we returned to Rosano, enjoying that excellent descent, then back across the bridge, and back to Sieci.

A nice trophy, as we were second in participation, some food, then return home on the main roads.  Another fun day with the team.  It is truly my pleasure to be a part of the cycling scene and culture here.  It is really fun.  The ride summary is:  68 miles in 4:10 rolling time for an average speed of 16.3 mph, with 3830 vertical feet of climbing at a very nice average temperature of 72.  Wonderful.

Sportiva Sieci raduno - fun! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Chris and Leif at the "controllo", where you give 
the person a card to show you did the long course.

A view of Reggello after the controllo.

Leif, Alessandro, Chris, and Alberto at the finish with the trophy.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Great Saturday morning ride on new terrain with the team

I was up early this morning, and met the squadra at the cascine to start the day's ride.  Only 4 of us were there on a perfect morning, but all were good, strong riders, and I would be either the slowest or second slowest.  We started by winding our way through the outskirts of Florence to Pistoia, then Prato, where we hooked up with the road we would basically climb up to Montepiano.  For quite a way, the road followed a river bed at a quite gentle grade, and we were able to ride as a group, keeping a good pace in the big ring.  After Vaiano, the road started to get a little steeper.  It continued to get steeper, and it turned into a good climb to Montepiano.  I had never ridden here before, so everything was a surprise for me.  A beautiful, relatively abandoned road winding up some good sized hills.  What more could you ask for.  It is a fairly popular road with cyclists and we passed many on the way up.

We stopped in Montepiano, having climbed around 800 vertical meters so far.  We refilled our water bottles, waited for Lorenzo - I was pretty close to Luca on the climb, a surprise for me, and dropped Lorenzo pretty easily, also a surprise.  We all have days when we ride stronger or less strong, and Lorenzo has dropped me far more times than the reverse, although the trend for now is changing.  We took a turn in Montepiano to go to Barberino in the Mugello, and I thought this would be a descent.  After a short descent, we had another little pass to climb, quite small, but still a surprise.  The real descent into Barberino then started.  Fun, not too fast, as I did not know the road, and it was a little bumpy in places.

In Barberino, we navigated through town, then started toward Calenzano, but turned off to ride the road to the South side of a large lake there.  Great decision, as this took us over to Via Bolognese, and eliminated a pretty good slog into Florence from Calenzano.  A beautiful ride by the lake, then the climb through Vaglia to Pratolino.  A stop at the top to regroup, get more water, then the descent home.  Super fun ride with great guys.  I may get up tomorrow to ride a raduno with the team, but I have a party tonight, so we shall see.  Summary for today is:  66.5 miles in 4:08 for an average speed of 16.1 mph with 4150 vertical feet of climbing at an average sun affected temperature of 77.  Love it!

Monte Piano, Barberino de Mugello, Vaglia con squadra. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The piazza in the center of Montepiano

Looking toward the road we will take out of Montepiano,
with Luca waiting to get started.  

A couple of pictures of the guys starting the descent from 
Montepiano in front of me.  Little did I know then that we had more 
climbing coming almost immediately.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Radda, Castellina. Fun in Chianti.

The weather was pretty darn perfect, as was forecast.  For the first time in I don't remember how long, I did not even bring anything for rain.  As I returned to Florence, dark clouds were looming, and I questioned this decision, but no rain for the day.  I even rode what I had planned the day before, putting in for me a pretty big day.

I started out on the Viales past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then down to Galluzzo before hooking up with the main road to Tavernuzze.  I took the main road, SP 2 all the way out to Greve, then Panzano.  It is a very gradual climb to Greve, and I usually do this stretch with others, normally the team.  It is a little different solo, with no one to pull the crew along.  Still, it is a pretty nice valley ride, and I made pretty good time.  From Greve, the climb to Panzano was just fine, and I refilled my water in Panzano.  A great descent on the other side of Panzano, then continuing the descent after a turn off to Lucarelli where I had my cafe machiato for the ride.  From here you start the climb to Radda in a beautiful river valley, with a very nice, gradual climb, until you are close to Radda, when it ramps up, and I need to go to the small ring in front.

You hook up to the ridge road just before Radda, then do some climbing to the actual town.  Here we really are in the heart of Chianti, and there are vineyards everywhere.  From Radda, you climb / descend, but mostly climb to Castellina, where I took another little break and refilled the water again.  Another pretty steep, but short climb takes you out of Castellina, and onto the ridge where you start a very long descent, interrupted by a few climbs through San Donato, then through Sambuca where you join the valley road.  I followed the valley road all the way to the San Casciano climb, and climbed to San Casciano.  I wasn't at my most energetic at this point, this being the last real climb, but I still hit # 3 for me on Strava.

From San Casciano, the regular route through Spedaletto, Chiesa Nuova (more water), then turn off to descend on the back way to Scandicci.  From Scandicci, home on the main roads.  Really a great tour, I am feeling very good and pretty strong right now and am enjoying it.  Summary is:  73.7 miles in 4:40 rolling time for an average speed of 15.8 mph with 4390 vertical feet of climbing at an average sun affected temperature of 81.  Ciao.

Panzano, Radda, Castellina, San Casciano, Scandicci. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of pictures on the climb from Greve to Panzano.
For taking the pictures while riding, I think they are my best for toady.

The picture doesn't do it justice, but the ride up to Radda
is simply beautiful, following a river valley most of the way.

The view to the South from Castellina.  Big view.