Friday, August 30, 2013

Short tour of the Mugello.

I am now in the process of becoming a Vayable "Insider".  This means I help people plan trips to Florence through a guide service I am listed in called Vayable.  This is a new service for them, and I just completed the training piece yesterday and had a request for a trip this morning.  I put together a possible itinerary for someone this morning and sent it off.  We shall see what happens next.  My efforts to this point are not paid for, but the next step will mean some pay.  I found it more fun than I thought and am kind of looking forward to doing it in the future.  I have to do a profile with picture, etc. after I finish this blog, then I am done for the day.  After putting in the effort to do the possible itinerary, which certainly takes longer the first few times, I thought a break would get me fresher before I did the profile, so I decided on a short-ish ride.

The ride I picked was super fun, and the last time I rode it, it took a little over 2-1/2 hours, which was about right.  I climbed up Via Bolognese for the second day in a row, then changed routes in Pratolino, where I continued climbing to the turn off for Caselline.  I am getting used to the Via Bolognese climb, as I don't really even notice the steep part where a year ago I had to summon energy for the effort.  I was past the steep part both today and yesterday without really noticing it.  The small road over through Caselline and Viliano is really nice, with both descents and climbs.  I connected with the road from Bivigliano to Vaglia, and enjoyed one of the really nice, steep descents close to home.  Super fun.  In Vaglia, I hooked back up with Via Bolognese and rode down toward San Piero, but turned off toward Faltona before San Piero.

I powered across to Faltona, and then enjoyed the climb up to Croce alla Vetta.  I was thinking that I would take it easy on the climb, but it just does not seem to happen.  The bottom 1/2 of the climb is pretty mellow, big ring stuff, and I just crank when I am in the big ring.  Once I get the rhythm going, I
just keep it going even when the climb gets steeper.  Anyway, I was pretty quick up to the pass - no Personal Record, but pretty fast.  I really enjoyed the descent to Fiesole, then down the uphill of the World Championship course back into Firenze.  You can really get it going on the road down from Fiesole with all the new pavement.  I even had to pass a bus on the way down.  Ride summary:  36.9 miles in 2:26 for an average speed of 15.1 mph with 3190 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 85.  Ciao.
Piccolo giro de Mugello by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The camping area west of Bivigliano winding down for the summer.

There is a piece of the descent where around 4 switchbacks connect.
This is my attempt to capture the beginning of this stretch.

The mountains toward Passo della Futa from the road to the Olmo climb.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Late afternoon ride to Monte Morello.

After a morning of babysitting, I joined Emily and a friend for lunch.  Both were fun, and I rarely join her for lunch with the ladies, so it was good to give it a try.  Probably not a habit, as I like a little more activity and less talking, but I would enjoy it once a week or every other week.  I got out to ride around 4 after doing some business at home and rode one of by close in favorites, Monte Morello.  Up Via Bolognese to Pratolino, a stop at one of the best fountains in the area for water, then the really nice, gradual climb to Monte Morello.  A truly sweet descent is next, the top 2/3 quite gradual and very fast, with the last 1/3 very steep with many very tight switchbacks, so a little slower.  Back into the outskirts of Florence in Sesto Fiorentino with a ride back through the city for 10 kilometers or so.  Nice afternoon ride - 21.8 miles in 1:34 rolling time for an average speed of 13.9 mph with 1936 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 83.

Monte Morello by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A few of the views and one shot of the road on the climb from
Pratolino to Monte Morello.  It did rain on me on my return, 
but only the last couple of kilometers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Giro de Chianti - Firenze, Radda, Casellina, Firenze

I had a day greeting students on my townie bike yesterday, helping them get into their apartments, carrying suitcases, etc. for an organization here that sets up study abroad programs for different schools.  I do this a few times a year, and it is a tiring day, but it is always fun to be around the students when they arrive and share in their excitement of being here.  So, with greeting students from 9am to 6:30pm, no ride yesterday.  I had an errand this morning, so I did not get out until 12:00, but the weather was clearing, and I had plenty of time for a long ride that just came into my mind and I wanted to do it.

I left town by the Viale, past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then down to Galluzzo and out through Tavernuzze to Greve, where I took my first break.  This is almost the fastest way there for me, and with the tour planned, I did not have time for extra hills close in.  I have to work to settle in and spin fast alone for an hour and one quarter, which is what it took me to get there from Piazzale Michaelangelo.  For whatever reason, this is harder for me than climbing.  After Greve, there is a nice, gentle climb to Panzano, then a great descent down to the turn off to Lucarelli, then continuing the descent into Lucarelli.  From Lucarelli, it is a very gentle climb for around 7 kilometers, then it kicks up a little into Radda.  Actually, after you get to the ridge that Radda is on, it gets to around 10% in a couple of places, so that is pretty hard.

From Radda, it is around 200 meters of climbing to Casellina, along a ridge with great views to both the  east and west.  There are many descents to interrupt the climb, so it is really a pleasant ride.  It is also around 65 kilometers from home, so I don't ride it all the time, which makes it nice when I do get out there.  There is a really nice little park in Casellina where I get water and enjoy a little snack.  The picture below is from the little park there.  From Casellina, there is a nasty little climb that I would guess hits 15% to get out of town, but it is quite short, probably only around 50 meters of climbing.  After the little climb, you have an almost direct descent all the way down to Sambuca, probably around 20 kilometers worth.  I checked the Garmin and for one 5 kilometer piece I was averaging around 45 kph, which is a fast average for me.  I usually get the speed up to 55 to 65 kph, but that is only in small stretches.

After Sambuca, you climb very gradually up the valley of the Pesa, then you have a real climb to San Casciano.  This is the last real climb for this ride, and there is a nice little park in San Casciano with water where I took another break for water and a snack.  After that it was simply finding the energy to power on home, through Spedellato, Chiesa Nuova, and Scandicci.  I was tired in San Casciano, but easily found the energy and even felt stronger as I put in the last 45 minutes or so of the ride.  We have an event September 8 where I am planning on a 150 kilometer course, so I need to get some of these longer rides in.  Ride summary:  74.5 miles in 4:41 rolling time for an average speed of 15.9 (not bad solo) with 4216 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 82.  Love it!

Giro de Chianti - Radda, Casellina, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I have been noticing this view as I cross the Arno to start many of
my rides to the South.  Typically I am going fast and not taking
pictures, but today, I slowed down enough to take this shot.
The city of Florence to the west on a beautiful August afternoon.

One of the views of Chianti from the road between Greve and Panzano.

Coming into the beautiful old town of Radda in Chianti.

The view to the south from Casellina in Chianti, around 15 kilometers from Radda.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ups and Downs close to home on a nice afternoon.

Emily and I met Kate and the kids for lunch today at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is a favorite of both the kids and Kate.  Kate can use help to make it work, so we are lucky enough to be invited.  It is fun, but they are a hand full.  They have a great burger there, but it is huge.  I of course went with the huge burger, and then returned home feeling a little over full.  I wanted to get out anyway, so off for a ride.  After about 10 minutes of climbing, the bloated feeling left me and I felt pretty darn good.

I rode up Via Bolognese, to San Bartolo, where I turned off to take the pretty little road over to Cercina then above Cercina to the beautiful church there.  I should check the name, as it is a marker for me.  From the church, I took descent option #4, which is a favorite, then when I got down to the Careggi area, I went back up descent option #2, which is a nice, but pretty tough climb - 15 to 20% in places.  Back up to the church, then down through Cercina, and up to descent option #1, which I took down then took the back way to the Careggi complex, then turned off to take the back way to close to home, adding a little climbing.  Fun, and I returned home feeling much better.  It always is good to get out.  Ride summary:  21.4 miles in 1:44 rolling time for an average speed of 12.3 mph with 2340 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 83.  Nice ride!

Up, down, up, down, Cercina area close to home by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Such a beautiful road to Cercina.

A view to the South - Florence is over that hill.

A view to the East around the church above Cercina.

Carmignano video from yesterday's ride.

Here it is.  I think the videos are getting better.  Hope you enjoy.

Well, I think I figured how to upload the link to youtube, which simplifies the process.  Again, enjoy.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wonderful Sunday afternoon ride, perfect weather, the heat has broken.

No pictures today, but I promise a video tomorrow.  I have the footage, but at this point downloading and editing is a time consuming process.  I was planning on a team ride to the Passo della Consuma this morning, but at my wake up time of 5:45 for the ride, it was storming very hard here with lightning, thunder, wind, and a fair amount of rain.  By 8:30 the storm was pretty much over, but the skies were still a little threatening.  I enjoyed an excursion into the Centro with Emily and had a wonderful cafe normale (espresso) at Rivoire.  I don't often sit on the terrace at Rivoire, as it costs about 3 times what it does if you stand at the bar, but it is really a super nice spot, and I think the best for people watching in Florence.  I enjoyed the time with Emily.

I suited up after returning home, and checked out a ride I had done with the team a couple of months ago.  I wanted to do the same route, but had only done it once downhill with the team on a raduno, and one other time with the team going up from Signa like today.  I studied the map and route, made some notes and was off.  It was totally smooth.  I did not really need the notes, and remembered the route quite well.  I rode out through the Cascine park then out the back way to Signa.  I easily found the turn off in Signa, and started up to Carmignano going through Comeana and La Serra.  It was a nice route and easily found.  I knew the route from La Serra to Carmignano, and the climb to Pinone is nice but pretty tiring.  Beautiful views on the way up and the way down through Vitolini.  I found the water fountain in Limite, then rode through Montelupo and used the new purification and refrigeration station water source in St Vincenzo a Torre.

I rode up the valley to Cerbia, then up the regular climb to Chiesa Nuova, then down and a slight up to the switchback descent into Galluzzo.  I enjoyed the descent, then hooked up with the back way around Galluzzo, then got on the Cinque Vie road, then hooked back up with the Viale to home.  Really nice ride on a beautiful day.  The hard rain and wind last night left the skies crystal clear and the views were spectacular.  Ride Summary:  56.3 miles in 3:35 rolling time for an average speed of 15.7 mph with 2615 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 86.

Carmignano on a Sunday afternoon. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Saturday, August 24, 2013

WCC - 3 laps.

I had a very nice day today.  Emily and I hosted Kate, Viola, and Torrio for a nice visit playing and having lunch.  We all had a lot of fun, and someday someone will find the fan Emily got for Vittorio which was lost during the visit.  The apartment is not that big, around 1000 sq ft, and we have all searched everywhere.  It will turn up and it will be fun to see where it is.  The weather is predicted to be rainy tomorrow morning, so I may not be able to ride with the team, and I wanted to get out this afternoon.  I am pretty obsessed with the upcoming World Championships here, and although I have ridden all the parts of the course many times, I had never done a full loop.  The pros are scheduled to do 11 laps, and I got in 3 in a little over 2 hours.

It is a very nice loop, and they will have a course a little shorter than mine, as I did not go the wrong way on a stretch of one way.  The loop is around 16.8 kilometers with around 308 meters of climbing.  The real interesting piece will be the Via Salviati climb, which is only around 60 vertical meters, but averages around 20% for 50 of those vertical meters.  My second lap was my fastest in very close to 41 minutes.  Let me think, if they went at my fastest pace, the 11 laps would take around 7-1/2 hours, which does not include the 80 kilometers with a couple of climbs on the way from Lucca to Firenze.  I am guessing they will average closer to 25 minutes per lap, which blows my mind.  Alright, I am almost 60, but I ride alot and am in pretty good shape, so I know they are a number of levels faster and stronger than me, but it will be interesting to see just how fast they complete the laps.  I think the course with the Lucca / Firenze piece included must have around 13000 vertical feet as well.

Enough rambling.  Ride summary is:  31.5 miles in 2:07 rolling time for an average speed of 14.9 mph with 3025 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 89.  I call this fun!

3 Laps of the World Championship Course by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Kate and Viola reading after lunch on a really fun visit today.

Although I was trying to go my fastest, on the third lap I eased off and
found time to take this picture on the way to San Domenico.
What a beautiful course the pros will be riding.

Friday, August 23, 2013

WCC (world championship climb) and a good loop as well.

Again, today, I rode and tested the video camera, trying to work out the bugs.  I have been charging the battery, as today I found out how you know the battery is dying.  Later, I will download and make a video from today's ride, and will include it in this post.  Depending on today's results, I think the handlebar mount is definitely most comfortable for me and easiest to use.  I do need to put the Garmin Edge 500 in my pocket while using the camera, but maybe that is good for me.  I also only plan on doing seasonal video's to promote the business.  Unless I get much better at the editing process, which hopefully will happen, I don't think it is reasonable to offer video to clients for an additional fee.  Perhaps I can show some of my results and give them the option.  One of the good things about the handlebar mount is it is easy to put on and use.

Sometime in the past week, the organizers of the World Championships have put up signs marking the course, so I followed the course from the apartment to Fiesole, again, giving me a benchmark for my own times as well as comparing with the world's best.  What do you think - will they cut my time in 1/2? - I only record my time on one climb, usually at the start, and they will be doing 11 laps.  However, I am an aging wannabe and they are the best riders in the world.  It will be fun to see how it plays out.  I felt a little sluggish, so I was surprised to see on Strava that I posted my best time for the climb - a whole 2 seconds faster than a week or so ago.  I felt better a week ago, but the mind does play it's tricks on us all.  I really believe that the ability to climb and perform for endurance is at least 50% mental, and I work on it all the time.  Roger, a client and former pro, told me that the best thing he heard, from Levi, was to always try to feel stronger at the top of the climb.  I pretty much always keep that in mind.

Enough rambling.  After the climb to Fiesole, I continued on the road up to the turn off toward Sieci at a little pass the locals call Alberaccio.  I then descended to the Santa Brigida turn off, and enjoyed the ride up and down over to the town.  I enjoyed some of the best water in the area, and hopefully will have some footage of the source.  I then kept riding over to the Molino de Vento, which is definitely up and down through Fornello and Doccia.  At the windmill, I turned to the left and took the super beautiful road down to the "Pope's road", and did some video of the descent and the fun ride on the road.  Doing some video on the Pope's road was what I had in mind designing today's route.  I rode into Pontesieve, and then down the main road to Compiobbi, where I turned off to climb to Montebeni and to the turn off for Vincigliata.  The climb to Montebeni is every bit as hard as I recalled, and I think it averages over 10% for 250 vertical meters.  It is a good road though, and has very little traffic.

I enjoyed the descent down through Vincigliata, which is a route I climb often.  Fun descent as well.   This basically brings you into the lower parts of Settignano, and I then rode home hooking up with the WC course again.  Super fun.  I managed to concentrate and enjoy the ride today more than the last few rides, as I let the video piece become more of a focus than it needs to be.  The summary is:  38.6 miles in 2:57 rolling time for an average speed of 13.1 mph with 3580 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 88.

Here is the video:

WCC (world championship climb) & much more by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scandicci descent video.

Another video - different resolution, taken from a helmet mount, and I tried to adjust the exposure, etc.  I will eventually get it right or at least close.  This is of the descent to Scandicci from Via Volterra above.  Ciao.

Nice ride in the Chianti hills, testing helmet mountings for the camera.

Another day playing with the new video camera.  I don't think I will post it here again, as when I looked, the quality was not good and it did not play smoothly.  I will try Youtube or something and see if I can do a link.  Stay tuned.  Anyway, the weather was so nice, I decided on a medium sized ride even with the camera testing.  I tried the camera on the side of my helmet and toward the end of the ride on the top.  I thought it would be best, as I naturally absorb shocks with my body as I ride, and figured it would be a smoother video.  Well, kind of, but not really.  Every move and tilt of the head makes it a little weird, and it messed up the balance of the helmet, and I think would eventually give me a sore neck.  I compared it with yesterday's video, and both Emily and I liked yesterday's better.  That is great, as it is easier to mount and use on the handlebars as well.  Also, when I get better with it, I will only use it a few times a year for promotional videos, and use it for clients as requested.

I rode out through Piazzale Michealangelo, then up to Poggio Imperiale.  I actually made it to the river and turned around, as my first position for the camera, on the side of the top tube, was not working at all.  So, I turned around and figured how to use the helmet mount.  Anyway, from Poggio Imperiale to Galluzzo, then up to Impruneta on the main road.  I took the descent toward Ferrone that puts you on the main road for 100 meters or so before the Luiano turn off, which I took.  I enjoyed the climb through Luiano, and up the the Mercatale road.  I rode into San Casciano on a stretch of road that is gorgeous.

I descended from San Casciano on the main road and took the turn to Ponterotto, finishing the descent at the Pesa river.  I enjoyed the climb to San Pancrazio, on a very nice and shady road, but was starting to feel a little tired.  I think I needed the break I am taking today after 9 days in a row on the bike.  More water in San Pancrazio, then over on the ridge to the turn off at La Ripa.  I rode down to Cerbia, then took a break and took the camera off the helmet, as my neck was getting sore.  Just a little ways up the hill to Chiesa Nuova, I stopped and mounted the camera to the helmet in the middle, and tried that for the remainder of the ride.  Water at the best spot around in Chiesa Nuova, then over / down on the ridge, taking the turn to Scandicci.  I enjoyed the descent, then powered through some fatigue home in Firenze.  Summary is:  43.9 miles in 3:09 rolling time for an average speed of 13.9 mph with 3460 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 88.

Testing video to the South - perfect weather for a ride in Chianti by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I loved the way the gate and trees framed the villa beyond.  Yes, 
it was windy.

A nice view of the vineyards between Mercatale and San Casciano.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

World Championship Video

Well, check this out and see how it works.  My first attempt at a video after buying an action camera yesterday.  It is a selection, although most of my descent of the World Championship Course from my ride yesterday.  

Nice couple of hours in cool temperatures.

Em and I tried a new COOP yesterday morning, taking the tram via out to the location.  It is one of the really big COOP's, and has a Media World store there.  We checked the whole thing out, bought some groceries, and returned.  Our first time on the tram via which worked very well.  I checked Media World while there for action video cameras, as I have been planning on buying one to do some seasonal videos to promote the business.  When Keith was here and doing the guided riding, he strongly recommended this.  They had a Midland camera which was priced around 1/2 of what I was seeing on line for other brands.  I checked reviews after returning home, and almost all reviews were excellent.  I decided to return and purchase the camera, as I have been considering this since the middle of April.  I did not really want one, but I think it is a good piece to offer people and after watching my first attempts, it really does communicate the riding better than pictures.  After some more editing I will separately post my first attempt from yesterday in a separate post here.

I rode up Via Bolognese to Pratolino, then up to the turn to Casellina.  I took that tiny road over and through Casellina and Viliano to the road to Bivigliano from Vaglia.  I turned right here, and did the difficult climb into Bivigliano, which I had not done in a while.  From Bivigliano, I enjoyed the contouring / descent to the Croce alla Vetta road and recorded the first segment worth saving.  I did take out the regular camera for a few shots to post, as seen below.  I had a nice tail wind to Fiesole, then took the descent to Pian de Mugnone, the world championship descent.  I videoed this descent as well and will post it later.  I returned to Firenze through Piazza della Cure.  I will be experimenting with alternate locations on the bike for the camera, as the handlebar spot interfered with the Garmin reception.  Ride summary:  24 miles in 1:48 rolling time for an average speed of 13.3 mph with 2280 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 72.  Ciao.

Nice two hour ride - new video camera! by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A few pictures on the road from Bivigliano to the Croce alla Vetta road.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fun in the sun to the North of the city.

I had a very slow morning today, with a big breakfast, and a nice couple of hours in the Centro with Emily.  After returning home, I cleaned and lubed the bike and took off for a short ride in the heat of the day.  The heat is backing off a little, and the average temperature for my ride was 92, which is not too bad considering I left home around 1:30.  I rode out through Piazza della Cure, then up one of the back ways to San Domenico.  I hooked up with the main road to Fiesole, and turned off toward Maiano.  It is a fun, fast descent, but I was very close to the worst crash in quite a while on the descent. I was coming around a totally blind corner, hidden by a wall on the side of the road, and around 15 feet into the corner, two cars were stopped trying to get by each other.  I hit the brakes as hard as possible, and got my front wheel between the cars, went forward with the front wheel locked, but held out my hand on one side and stopped falling forward holding on the the car on the right side.  Close, but any real problem was avoided.  I looked around after stopping and backing my bike out of the way, and I don't really know how I could have avoided this aside from riding very slow, which is not what I want to do.  I was lucky to be paying very close attention and to avoid any real problem.

Well, after that, I finished the descent to the start of the Vincigliata climb, and enjoyed the climb up to join the road toward Fiesole, then over to the main road to Croce alla Vetta.  At the top, I went over to Pratolino, which involves a little more climbing, then descending into Pratolino.  I branched off to get water at a beautiful fountain in the shade, which routed me over toward Monte Morello, but I turned back to Via Bolognese.  I descended Via Bolognese to San Bartolo, then went up and over to Cercina. I went over and up to the church at the top of the climb and picked the first option for the descent.  I had not done this one for a while, and it was fun.  Back down and over to above the Carregi complex, then back on the main roads to the apartment.  27.5 miles in 2:10 rolling time for an average speed of 12.7 mph with 2970 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 92.

Climbing and descending close to home. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

On the road from Fiesole to Croce alla Vetta.

The water fountain in Pratolino with an awesome view in the background.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nice morning ride with the team in Chianti.

Up early, but definitely worth it.  Sometimes I let a 5:30 wake up time keep me from doing rides, but I need to get over it.  It is fun to ride with the team, and this morning exceeded my expectations.  We met at Tavernuzze, around 10 k from the apartment at 7:30.  It is middle / late August, so we had a group of 4, as many, perhaps most Florentines are out of town now.  We rode out the regular road to Greve, but worked quite well together and had a lot of fun.  Davide was turning around here, as he is still coming back from 8 months on the sidelines due to injury.  He has been back a little over 2 weeks now, and is getting stronger all the time.  Yesterday, he rode the whole 90 kilometer route with the team.  Atta Boy.  We stopped in Greve and all had a cafe, then Chris, Moreno, and I rode up Passo de Sugame.

What a nice, fun climb.  Scenic, with a gentle grade, little to no traffic, and we all rode together up the pass at a very nice pace.  A great, but short descent to the turn off to La Panca, then a little more descending before a pretty short climb to La Panca.  The descent from La Panca to Strada is one of my favorites and did not disappoint today.  Chris and Moreno gaped me a little, but I totally enjoyed the descent.  There is a little climb to get past Strada, then a very gradual ridge descent to a steeper portion into Grassina.  Moreno led the way, and we really cooked on this portion of the ride.  At Grassina, Moreno headed home, and Chris and I decided to add a climb and a little more distance to the ride.  We rode to Vacciano then San Gersole on one of my favorite climbs.  I never see other riders here, and was surprised to have Chris mention that it was one of his favorites and that he rides it often.

We got some water in San Gersole, then continued up to Monteoriolo, then down to the turn off through Baruffi to the main road to Galluzzo.  I really enjoy this descent, and was showing it to Chris for the first time.  It was a little bumpy for Chris descending as he really likes to go fast.  We then caught the Cinque Vie road then hooked up to the Viales.  Chris went home and I continued Northwest on the Viale home.  Really fun morning ride.  Summary:  56 miles in 3:29 for an average speed of 16.1 mph with 3400 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 75.  I love it here.

Greve, Passo de Sugame, La Panca con squadra. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Moreno and Chris on the climb to La Panca.  What a beautiful morning!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A benchmark for the World Championship climb established.

I had a cancellation last night around 10:30 of a client tour today, a little frustrating, but I slept later and enjoyed going through the exhibition at the Strozzi with Emily after returning the rental bike I got for the client who cancelled.  I am going to try one of the big pools after finishing this post in Firenze this late afternoon, which left me a couple of hours for a ride in the middle or heat of the day.

I choose to incorporate the climb to Fiesole that will be part of the loop in Florence for the world championships.  It is newly paved, and really nice.  I was fast for me, and am somewhere around 45 out of 250 on strava after my effort today.  Not bad for an old man.  I pushed it pretty hard as I wanted a benchmark to see just how fast the pros ride.  Of course, they will be doing 11 laps instead of the one I did, although I did climb Monteloro later in the ride.  I was pretty winded in Fiesole, and did the whole water thing there before continuing the climb to the turn off to Compiobbi.  I really enjoyed the descent to Compiobbi, then climbed to Monteloro.  Always a great climb, but today, the water fountain had the spigot on top, disconnected.  Yikes, I was counting on that water.  I continued the climb to the L'Olmo road, then finished the climb before enjoying the descent through L'Olmo, Caldine, and Pian de Mugnone to Firenze.

There is a water source just as you return to the outskirts of Firenze, which I gratefully used.  Nice, fresh water is great on a hot day.  I finished the ride into town, and am now going swimming in 15 minutes or so.  Sounds good.  Ride summary is:  26 miles in 1:56 for an average speed of 13.4 mph with 2670 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 95.  Ciao.

World Championship climb plus Monteloro climb by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Riding in the shade on the climb to Monteloro.  An old water source in an
arch in the retaining wall, which for now I am calling a small grotto.

An example of how Florence empties out in August.  This picture of 
the parking below our apartment is empty.  Normally, it is totally
full of cars with double parking a typical condition.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nice morning tour in the close in Chianti hills.

The heat is back!  I was not into rushing this morning, so I had a leisurely breakfast, then Em and I planned our day - a trip to IKEA using Kate's car after the ride - then I was off for a short-ish ride.  I went out on the Viales, past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then up to Poggio Imperiale.  A nice ridge ride then descent to Galluzzo, where I turned toward Impruneta, but took the turn to take the road to Cinque Vie.  Over the bridge and under the highway, then here is the climb to Vacciano and San Gersole.  It is steep in places, but a tiny road and I think, super scenic.  Needless to say, I love this climb.  I caught the main road to Impruneta, then turned off to descend to Tavernuzze through Bagnolo.

I used to ride this descent often, but I have fallen in love with the route through Barufi, but the Bagnolo descent is really nice.  The road is busier, but in much better shape, so you can let it go more.  From Tavernuzze, out the main road to the turn off to San Andrea in Percussina, a good climb that hits 15 to 20% in places, but beautiful.  San Andrea is where Machiavelli was exiled too in the 1500's.  After San Andrea, you join the road to Chiesa Nuova, and I had to stop at the fountain for some fresh, cold water.  I met another rider there who said (In Italian) this is always the best water around.  I had to agree, but took off for my return.  I rode to the top of the hill above Scandicci, and took the little used road down into town.  I had not ridden this in a while and it was fun.  From Scandicci, back to the apartment on the main roads.  Lots of fun.

Ride summary is:  32.4 miles in 2:21 rolling time for and average speed of 13.8 mph with 2150 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 90.  Ciao.

Close in Chianti hills by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I love this church in Vacciano on the way to San Gersole.

The beautiful, tiny road above the Vacciano church.

Approaching the church in San Gersole.

The Villa Mangiacane above San Andrea in Percussina.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

FerrAgosto team ride to Vallombrosa.

Up quite early this morning - 5:30 - and on the road to the meeting point by 6:45.  I do have to stretch this aging body to keep it working well every day.  Davide again joined in for the ride to San Ellero, when he returned to Firenze.  He is getting stronger, and should be back to climbing with us soon.  Ritchie, from London, joined us and was fun to have along.  He rented a bike from the shop yesterday, said he rode with a team in London, and Lia suggested he ride with us today.  The hills were a little much for him and he was really spent by the time we returned, but he rode and climbed well, in particular with tennis shoes.  Also, today's ride and the climb to Vallombrosa is not easy.  The climb from San Ellero to Vallombrosa is rated HC, so it is not easy.

We started out and went at a reasonable pace to Sieci, when Davide ramped up the pace a little.  I stayed with him, but we dropped the remaining 3 but regrouped in Pontesieve and they were less than a minute behind.  We rode together to San Ellero, where Davide returned to Firenze.  The rest of us started the big climb.  It was a perfect morning, nice cool temperatures, for August, and an almost deserted road.  We took a short break in Donnini and got some water, then headed up to Tosi, where the hard part of the climb really kicks in.  Both Lorenzo and Alessandro stayed behind to encourage Ritchie, but I went ahead, knowing that sticking with my own pace works well for me.  I waited for them just below the top, and we rode into Vallombrosa together.

Water and a break there, and a discussion of the return route.  Ritchie was all for the easiest way, but we explained the route with less additional climbing was longer.  We took that route anyway, as both Alessandro and I wanted to go that way.  A great descent through Saltino to Regello.  Vallombrosa is very busy this time of year, and I had never been here in August.  Lots of traffic, people parked kilometers away and walking to the nice park for a picnic.  We had a cafe in Regello, then finished the descent to Leccio.  Back on the main road, we had a little climbing to do, but mostly flat over to hook up with the Pontesieve road.  Lorenzo and I were dropping Ritchie at this point, and his energy was getting low.  We dropped him more on the ride from Pontesieve to Firenze, but Alessandro stayed with him and we waited to regroup a number of times.  Back in town around 11 with a wonderful ride in.

Ride summary is:  56.0 miles in 3:47 rolling time for an average speed of 14.8 mph with 3895 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 74.5.  What a nice morning.  Ciao.

Vallambrosa con Squadra - FerrAgosto by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The road to Vallombrosa around 2/3 the way up the climb.

Lorenzo, Richie, Alessandro, and Me in Vallombrosa.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nice tour into the Mugello

After catching up with lots of basic stuff this morning, and with plans to use Kate's car to do a big shopping this afternoon, I had around 3 hours to get in a good ride.  This was perfect, as I am planning a pretty big ride with the team tomorrow morning.  At this point, I can check both Strava and Garmin to see how long rides have taken in the past, and I checked today's plan at 2-1/2 hours which is pretty much what it took.  It is nice to have the records so I can be mostly on time, which I am quite compulsive about.  I guess that may be obvious after saying I checked records of prior rides for timing.  Oh well, I am who I am, and basically I am pretty happy with it.

I rode up Via Bolognese to Pratolino.  The steepest part of the climb really let me know I had been mostly off the bike for a week, as yesterday's ride was pretty short and easy.  The lactic worked itself through my quads and flushed out after the descent into Vaglia.  This descent is nothing short of spectacular with around 12 full switchbacks on a tiny road.  After Vaglia, there are 15 to 20 kilometers where you can hit and maintain a pretty good spin, which flushed all the lactic and warmed up the legs better.  Part of that 20k is the start of the climb to Croce alla Vetta, which I thought I totally powered up today, but Strava said only my 4th fastest time.  I decided to descend to Fiesole and either take the road to Pian de Mugnone or descend directly through San Domenico.

The new pavement was in at the top of the Pian de Mugnone turn off, so I took that option.  Wow, super fast and perfect pavement.  This is part of the loop in Florence that will get 11 laps in the pro world championship race.  There is a place right when you are descending to Pian de Mugnone where the road does a hard 90 degree turn right after a sustained 15% descent.  I almost over cooked and ended up close to the retaining / guard wall, as the train tracks are right on the other side.  I can only imagine the speeds the pros will take into that turn and how they will get through it.  Kind of fun to think about.

After Pian de Mugnone, a good hard crank back into town through Piazza della Cure.  Nice, fun ride.  Summary is 37.4 miles in 2:28 for an average speed of 15.1 mph with 3205 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 87.  Finally cooling off.

Short giro de Mugello by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Such beautiful roads between Pratolino and Bivigliano on the tiny back road.

Bolgheri tour with a great family.

Yesterday, I did a fun day with Dominick and a family from Toronto.  We had a long but fun day, first travelling to Bolgheri, then getting everyone on bikes for a short tour.  We rode a spectacular road from Bolgheri to Castegneto Carducci, then returned to Bolgheri in the van for a super lunch.  Very traditional fare with excellent wine and cafe.  We then drove to Carrara for a really nice jeep tour of the marble quarries.  I forgot the camera for the quarry tour, but it was memorable.  Thanks for the work, Dominick, and thanks to Janet, Ian, Damien, and Taylor for the ride and day.  Ciao.

Bolgheri tour with Janet, Ian, Damien, and Taylor by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Damien, Taylor, and Ian on the road to Castegneto Carducci.

The gang at the end of the ride.

A wonderful lunch after the ride back in Bolgheri.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Escaping the apartment into the heat of the countryside.

I have had 10 straight days on the bike now, and I could probably use a break, but I will be off the bike starting Thursday for 5 days as we travel to Sardegna, hopefully away from the heat.  So, I was still on the bike today.  I did take it slow this morning, having my version of a big american breakfast, paying bills at the post office, and a trip to the grocery store.  I was off on the bike, after a long overdue chain / gear clean and lube for a short ride.  I don't think I have ridden this route in a while, and it is a super nice loop for a one hour or so ride from home.

I climb up Via Bolognese to Pian de San Bartolo, which is a relatively gentle climb with a maximum grade of around 7%.  It gets steeper just above the turn off.  The road over to Cercina is simply wonderful.  Tiny, pretty, a little bumpy in places, but virtually no traffic.  Descending, climbing, descending, then a final climb to the church above Cercina before taking the 3rd descent option.   I enjoyed the descent, then am back in the Carregi area in Florence.  I take a little detour that adds another 25 to 30 meters of climbing and takes you off the busy roads.  Then, I am basically home.

Ride summary is:  13.7 miles in 1:02 for an average speed of 13.2 mph with 1330 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 97.

Quick escape from the city in the heat by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of pictures of the road to Cercina from San Bartolo in the 
heat of the day.  Still beautiful and fun.

Chianti figure 8 with two passes - Sweet!

After a short ride yesterday, I decided on something a little longer today.  We are leaving tomorrow for a week or so, so this is probably my last ride for 6 days or so.  Aside from some complications, we are looking forward to getting out of the heat of the city and seeing Sardinia for the first time.  I was out riding by around 9:45, as the personal complications took a little time this morning.  We are dog-sitting for someone, and the person who was to take the dog while we are gone had some problems, not her fault, the dog in going into heat, and she has other male dogs around.  Not a good combination.  Anyway, it took a little longer to exit with a number of discussions about what we were going to do.  As I write this, all has been solved, and we are relieved to have everything under control.

I rode out through Poggio Imperiale, then down to Galluzzo, then up the main road to Impruneta.  With the help of a couple of old guys, I found a new water source, as the one I was using was not very cold. They pointed and said new water fountain, molto fresco or very cold.  I found it and it was indeed cold and refreshing.  With the heat, I am doing all I can to keep hydrated.  I rode from Impruneta over to Strada, then down to start the climb to Poggio alla Croce, going through San Polo.  The road to San Polo has had work going on for a while, and it is complete and well done.  It is a nice climb, never too steep and I can keep a good pace going there.  After San Polo, the climb ramps up pretty good, and probably averages around 7% with some 10% sections.  I exited at the top of the hill, found a water source, and did the whole water routine.

I descended to Brollo, and easily found the road over to the Passo de Sugame climb.  I had ridden this road a number of times many years ago, but it has been at least 6 years since I had been on it.  Well, I will return sooner, as I loved the road and the route.  To have both the Poggio alla Croce climb and the Passo de Sugame climb is really fun.  I climbed up through Dudda, and turned off to go to La Panca, then down to Strada on the super fun descent there.  I got more water in Strada, then caught the road to Ferrone, and hooked up with the Luiano climb.  A great climb as always, and into San Casciano before I knew it.  Over to Chiesa Nuova for more water at the best fountain in Chianti, then down the switchbacks to Galluzzo.  From Galluzzo, I hooked up with the  Cinque Vie road, and back into Firenze.  Fun ride, and it did not get too hot until the last 45 minutes or so.

Ride summary is:  62.1 miles in 4:15 rolling time for an average speed of 14.6 mph with 4740 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 95.  Ciao.  It will probably be a week or so until the next post.

Chianti figure 8 - two passes by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A nice, tree lined road leaving Impruneta.

What a fun, tiny, beautiful road connecting the road to Poggio
alla Croce and the road to Passo de Sugame.

The view to the east from the Brollo / San Martino road.

A view to the South East from the Brollo / San Martino road.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday morning with the team and the return of David Ponti.

I will be gone next weekend, so I decided to ride with the team both days this weekend.  David, one of the teams strongest members and one of the most consistent participants had been out for 8 months or so, after being hit by a car while riding.  Several witness, including police, verified that the car was totally in the wrong, but he still had surgery and a long recovery.  We met at Illiopesca then rode out the normal route to Lastra a Signa, then to Montelupo.  David was quite strong, in particular between Lastra and Montelupo, but turned around there with the remaining 5 of us continuing on a nice tour.

We climbed out of Montelupo, then enjoyed the road over to Samontanna, eventually turning left on the road to Ortimino.  Both are very nice, quiet roads, particularly on a Sunday morning in August.  Most Italians are at the sea (mare) or leaving on vacation soon.  Emily and I will spend a week in Sardegna with Kate and the kids starting on Wednesday.  Anyway, the traffic is 1/4 of what it normally would be now and will get to be even less over the next week or so.  Just before Ortimino, you start to climb, and it felt great today.  At Ortimino, you join the gradually climbing ridge road to Montespertoli with views both directions as you ride.  Another spectacular road.  Arriving in Montespertoli, we searched for an found a water fountain and eventually refilled bottles, etc.  The fountain was a little tempermental and it took a little coaxing to make it work.

From Montespertoli, we descended to Bacciano, then climbed to Montagnana.  Luigi led the way up this climb, and that was good to see, as he usually is slow on the climbs.  We descended to Cerbia, then started the climb to Chiesa Nuova.  I started slow, thinking it would be nice to keep the group together, and Rebecca's energy was flagging.  After a little bit, I was gapping the rest of the crew, so I started enjoying a real push of energy to see how fast I could climb.  In a couple of minutes, Moreno joined me, and we basically raced the remainder of the climb and finished right next to each other.  It was fun. We stopped for the whole water routine, waited for the rest of the team, and then returned to Firenze via Scandicci.  Another great ride with the team here in Toscana.  Ciao.

Ride summary:  50.3 miles in 3:19 for an average speed of 15.2 mph with 2140 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 80.

Sunday morning with the team and David's return after injury (8 months) by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The team ahead of me riding into the sun on the valley road before the climb to Ortimino.

One of the views to the South from the ridge climb from Ortimino to Montespertoli.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday morning San Baronto with the team.

I was up quite early, and met the team at Illiopesca at 7 to start a ride.  We had a nice group of 8, which is pretty good for this time of year.  We rode to San Baronto, but from a new direction for me.  It was quite fun, and on the descent from San Baronto, we saw a few top pros training for the World Championships, which are here in late September.

We started out the normal route to Lastra, then went back across the Arno, and North toward Prato.  We hooked up with the road west, toward Quarrata and enjoyed booking along pretty good as a group. The group fell apart in places as the pace was stepped up.  We regrouped in Quarrata (I just checked the spelling, and yes I was spelling it wrong), then headed toward the hills, eventually coming to the climb to San Baronto.  This is a very popular cycling route, and we saw and passed many riders on the way up.  It is more popular from the other side, and we certainly saw more riders climbing the other side as we descended.  Climbing from Quarrata was great.  There was new pavement, as it is part of the World Championship course.  I started feeling good, and by the top of the climb I feeling the strongest I felt all day.  I have been trying to feel my best at the top of climbs, and it is a struggle at times.

We enjoyed a long, leisurely descent to Vinci, then to the valley floor.  We mostly stayed together as a group on the long flat to Empoli, then Montelupo, but also broke apart many times.  Guys will be guys, and sometimes the pedal just goes to the metal.  Moreno set a perfect pace after Montelupo, as Rebecca was a little spent and we needed to moderate the effort.  It was really very nice to go at a reasonable rate and simply enjoy the ride.  We retraced our route from Lastra to Scandicci, and basically broke apart at some stop lights, and people left to return to their individual homes.  Back home around 11 with a really nice morning ride completed.  I love being a part of the team and cycling scene.  Ride summary:  65.4 miles in 3:55 rolling time for an average speed of 16.7 mph with 1760 vertical feet of climbing at a nice average temperature of 82.  Ciao.

San Baronto from Quarranta con Squadra by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A few of the squadra just before the start of the climb.

A little farther on, the whole team just before the start of the 
San Baronto climb.

In the valley riding toward Empoli, there were fields of sunflowers.  Although
they are facing the opposite direction, I still thought they were spectacular from the bike.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wonderful Sette Ponte ride with clear, beautiful skies.

I decided on a longer ride today, and even with my determination to embrace the heat, for me, with the highs around 100, I need to get out by 10 to do a comfortable 4 hour ride.  I was out by 9:30 this morning, and had a wonderful ride.  It was hot, but the skies are crystal clear and the views are outstanding.  I rode a favorite route that I had not ridden in a while.  Out of town through Bagno a Ripoli, the up to San Donato in Collina where I ran water over my head, soaked the helmet, and refilled the water bottle.  I am adding salt to my water in the morning to keep my legs from developing cramps in this weather.

Loved the descent from San Donato to the turn off by the fashion outlets, then over the Arno to hook up with the main road on the other side.  A pretty reasonable climb then descent to catch the road to Mattissino.  I kept following the road to Castelfranco, which eventually ramps up to 7% or so.  It does climb up a river valley at a nearly perfect 2% for quite a while, though.  A market day in Castelfranco, which I had never seen there before.  I still road into the center, ran water over my head, soaked the helmet, drank all my water, filled it, drank more, and filled it again.

Right after Castelfranco you start the Sette Ponte road, which is simply a wonderful ride.  It winds in and out of small valleys too numerous to count, but there are 7 main bridges, hence the name.  It basically contours over to Reggello, with both up and down equally represented.  I stopped in Reggello, and what is becoming a favorite spot, had a cafe machiato and a slice of pizza, then did the whole water routine at a great fountain there.  You descend from Reggello a little, then climb a fair amount, then descend into Donnini where the climb to Tosi really starts.  There is a couple of kilometers around 7%, but above that it is a nice 4 % or so, anyway gentle enough so you can gear down and push it.

From Tosi, it is a super descent to Paterno, where I did the water routine again - drink, soak the head, soak the helmet, drink more, pout a bottle over my head, drink more, then head out.  You continue descending from Paterno and then do a short climb into Pelago.  From Pelago, it is a contour / descent over to the Consuma road, then a fun descent to Pontesieve.  For some reason, the bike just felt great on the descents today and I saw it register around 70 kph a few times.  I have been pretty cautious since falling in February, and maybe I have finally gotten over that.  I hope so.  From Pontesieve, it is a power ride home, with a stop in Sieci to do the water routine for the last time.  Ride summary is:  62.2 miles in 4:02 rolling time for an average speed of 15.4 mph with 3960 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 94.  Still loving it!

Sette Ponte via San Donato in Collina by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A view to the South from the Sette Ponte road.

The view with vineyards from a different point along 
the Strada Sette Ponte.