Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sabado mattina con squadra.

I had an interesting team ride this morning.  We started at 10, which is quite late for the team, but one person had suggested starting later to let it warm up, and this was trying it out.  I liked it, as I was able to do a relaxed breakfast, help around the house a little, and still be early.  We started with 6, and the person who suggested the late start, Alessandro Celoan was not there.  Another person, Luca, had suggested a route that was proposed, but he was not there either, so the people who were there discussed alternates as no one seemed to want to do the proposed route.  I did not catch all the rapid fire Italian discussion, but figured I would just follow and go with the flow, which is fine with me.  We started going to Lastra a Signa, then to Montelupo.  By the time we got to the turn for Montelupo, we were down to 3, and I suggested we wait at the turn.  Apparently, part of the discussion was that the other 3 were turning back after Lastra, so, we were down to 3.

Daniele was discussing with Andrea, a new rider with the team, the remaining route.  I said I was fine with anything.  I kept hearing Strada, Cerbia, San Casciano, and was wondering how we would get to all the above.  We rode up to valley to Cerbia, a totally straight forward route.  I did have a flat on the way, but it was repaired in 5 minutes or so, and it was our only break of the day.  In Cerbia, we rode directly to San Casciano, a road I very rarely ride, as the climb is quite steep in many places.  It was Andrea's suggestion, but he had a hard time with the climb and Daniele and I dropped him quickly.  Daniele had never ridden this road, but he is young, super strong, and a very good cyclist.  We got back together as the road flattened out as you approach San Casciano.

From San Casciano, we descended to Falciani, then went up the valley to Ferrone, climbing to Strada.  We dropped Andrea again, this time more emphatically, and again regrouped at the top.  Andrea did not really understand the route he suggested, but all was fine.  He was saying he needed to train more to keep up.  We powered back through Grassina, I said goodbye, A Prossimo, Ragazzi, and rode home through Cinque Vie.  Overall, I really enjoyed the ride and the morning.  One of the fun things about riding with the team is you never really know what will happen until you go.  48.0 miles in 3:01 rolling time for an average speed of 15.9 mph with 2034 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 50.  Check out the garmin link for the steepness of the Cerbia / San Casciano climb.

Lastra, Montelupo, Cerbia, San Casciano, Strada, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Daniele ahead as we approach San Casciano.

Daniele on one of the short less steep parts during the steep climb.

Finishing the climb to San Casciano, with the steep part over.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Nice fast ride on a busy day, beautiful day and weather.

Another very busy, but really great day here.  Class this morning, which I am honestly struggling with. I am the least fluent of all the people in the class, and it is difficult at times.  I am believing that it is good for me, and even if I don't catch all of what is said or asked for, the attempt is good and perhaps I will come to understand people when they talk faster from the experience.  In the meantime, I am learning more grammar rules, and more words every day.  Now, I just have to retain the words that I learn.  I am thinking of a different approach after the class so we will see.  Emily and I are having a dinner party with our "fanciest" guests on Saturday.  Nicco's parents and his brother Buonacorso's in-laws will be coming.  Both couples are pretty wealthy, and have had us over multiple times.  When we are at their respective houses, there are multiple people cooking and serving, so what we will present will be a little different.  Anyway, I picked up some food from the butcher and cleaned the kitchen and bathroom for the upcoming party, tomorrow night.

I had time for a ride, and originally thought I could fit in a couple of hours, but by the time I was on the road, that was obviously not correct.  I picked up Viola from school today, which means I leave here by 3:45, and I wanted to eat and shower first.  So, an hour plus ride worked fine.  Yesterday when I was climbing Via Faentina, I thought I had not climbed to Fiesole from Pian de Mugnone for quite some time.  Well, that is how I started my ride.  I continued climbing above Fiesole, and turned off to go toward Vincigliata, but stayed on the road to Montebeni, then turned off to descend toward Settignano. There are a number of options on this descent, and I have developed a favorite, even though I don't ride this that often.  The way I go has 3 very steep spots, I would guess 25% plus, but they are relatively short.  The road is tiny, and although it is two way, it is a tight fit for a small car alone.  Add it all up and you need to stay totally present and aware to stay safe and have fun.

I loved it.  From where you hook back into the main road from Settignano to Firenze, it is just a crank on home.  Definitely the warmest day in a while, with beautiful blue skies and excellent light.  As we used to say in both Crested Butte and Telluride, just another day in paradise.  So fun.  12.8 miles in 1:02 rolling time for an average speed of 12.3 mph with 1265 vertical feet of climbing at an average (sun effected) temperature of 53.

Cure, Pian de Mugnone, Fiesole, Montebeni, Settignano, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Another view from the same location a little more directly north.

This is the tiny road descending toward Firenze from Settignano.

Looking back up the road toward Settignano.  
This little road is a blast, but you really
have to stay aware.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nice Thanksgiving ride on a crystal clear day!

Super busy day yesterday which unfortunately did not include a ride.  Italian class in the morning followed by 3 plus hours of babysitting, then meeting Emily for a film event, followed by dinner.  The film event was fun and I was basically attending to be with Emily and support her passion.  We watched 8-1/2 by Federico Fellini, which is pretty amazing, but also way, way out there.  This was followed by wine, snacks, then a lecture about the film and a discussion.  It is at a beautiful palazzo, Palazzo Tournaboni, a 4 Seasons Residence club, and sponsored by Stanford University here.  These type of events happen quite often, are free, and one of the great things about being a retired old guy here.

This morning I had class, but afterwards only one errand, which had me ready to ride by 12:30.  Yesterday at the film event, we met a friend of Kate's who lives above Molin de Piano, which gave me the idea for my ride today.  I wanted to find exactly where she said they lived, as I have ridden this road probably 10 times in the last few years.  I did it climbing so I could look around better.  With that in mind, along with the cold weather, I wanted to start with a climb, so I took off up Via Faentina to Olmo, which I do not climb often.  From Olmo, up a little, a turn or two, then the top of the first climb at Alberaccio.  Next is a smokin descent to Molin de Piano.

Molin de Piano is very close to the town we lived in for 4 months a couple of years ago, so we know it pretty well.  I turned off there and got on the climb to Doccia and identified the location of Kate's friend's place.  It looks nice.  Most of her friends are pretty well off, so no surprise there.  People her age making the choice to live here and have their kids in private schools, sort of means they have some financial solidity.  It had been a while since I climbed this, and it is pretty hard.  It really seems harder climbing in the cold, so I am just accepting it at this point.  From Doccia, you continue climbing almost to the windmill, then I took the direct route to Pontesieve, which is a super nice descent, also one I do not ride that often.  From Pontesieve, it is the normal power crank home.

So, great ride on a nice, albeit cold day.  On the way back to Firenze I was passed by someone in a full body skin suit, so I am thinking some variety of professional.  He did not pass me too quickly, although my attempt to stay with him was short lived.  Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans out there.  It is a little weird being here on a big US holiday, but you can be thankful for what life presents you wherever you are.  I love it here and am sooooo thankful that life has allowed me this opportunity.  Anyway, 32.9 miles in 2:29 rolling time for an average speed of 13.2 mph with 3012 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 50 (sun affected).

Caldine, Olmo, Molin de Piano, Doccia, Molino de Vento, Pontesieve, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Beautiful road, beautiful sky on the Via Faentina climb.

Looking toward Pratolino on the Via Faentina climb.

This nice view awaits after completing the difficult switchbacks
on the climb to Doccia from Molin de Piano.

Looking back to the West with Doccia on the hillside from
just past the windmill.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nice Monte Morello ride on a sunny, but windy and cold afternoon.

With it being a little cold for riding and with Italian classes every morning, I am thinking my rides will be limited for 3 hours or so.  I have to pick up Viola today, so I took a nice 1-1/2 hour plus ride to Monte Morello.  I have the clothing down pretty well, but when it is 45 and you are going 50 or 60 kph, it is still chilly.  I am pretty sure I am using additional energy to keep warm while riding, and it seems to me I am tiring easier.  Also, my legs appear to be sluggish when I start.  I am figuring all this has to do with the cold and not my age, although it could easily be both.

I used my standard Monte Morello route today which is totally fun.  I ride up Via Bolognese to Pratolino, getting the hardest part of the ride out of the way before Pratolino.  This also allows me to warm up quickly, at least heat wise.  At Pratolino, I turn to take the little cut off to the Monte Morello road.  Soon after you turn is the really nice water fountain.  I sat today to have some water and a banana, as it was a little too cold for me to grab and peel the banana as I rode.  It is a super nice spot anyway with a wonderful view.  In a kilometer or so you are on the Monte Morello road which is a steady climb to the Piazzale DaVinci.  Most of the climb is quite gentle and you can move pretty good. In fact it is fast enough that I stopped on the way up to put on the shell for more heat and take a couple of pictures.  The descent into Sesto is really fun.  The top is gentle and you can really let it go and push it.  There is a transition that is steep - around 15% at least, and for me I keep the brakes held hard here and keep the speed under control.

After the super steep piece there is a warning sign for 10% grade, and after a short piece of this grade you hit 8 super fun, totally tight switchbacks.  This dumps you out into the open where you have another 2 kilometers of slight downhill that is very fast.  From here it is a power ride through the outskirts of the city and through the city to the apartment.  21.8 miles in 1:38 rolling time for an average speed of 13.3 mph with 2129 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 48.

Via Bolognese, Pratolino, Monte Morello, Sesto, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

This is the road above the water fountain on the way
out of Pratolino toward Monte Morello.

A couple of views from the climb to Monte Morello.

A view toward Abetone showing the recent snows there
from the Piazzale DaVinci on Monte Morello.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Recovery ride with lots of climbing.

After an interesting week with my new Italian classes last week, this morning we finally really got into the swing of things with what should be a normal schedule.  I am at the bottom of the class in ability to speak and understand Italian quickly, but I can get enough that it feels like it will work well for me.  After all, one of the things I need to do better is to understand what people are talking about when they speak quickly.  Class is over at 11, and I walked home from there.  It had rained while I was in class which was a surprise, as the forecast was for only a 20% chance today.  I had a cafe and pastry on the way home, then checked a couple of internet committments, then suited up for a short but cold ride.  The temperature outside was only around 46, which is relatively cold for riding.  Yesterday was sort of hard and long-ish, so I wanted a short ride today.  I chose a ride that climbs to get me warm.  The classroom today did not have working heat, so a little chill was setting in by the time I finished class.

I rode over to Le Cure, then took option #2 up to San Domenico.  Option #1 has had road work going on, and I was going to check it today but forgot.  Perhaps next time I will try option #1.  After San Domenico, I continue climbing to the turn off to descend through Maiano to the start of the Vincigliata climb.  The roads were wet, so I kept the speed very under control.  Also, when it is cold, my body is simply tighter which does not make for the best reaction times on descents.  That is my excuse anyway.  I enjoyed the climb through Vincigliata as always, and was stronger than I thought I would be.  There was certainly no issue about being cold, as the work of a steep climb always works for warmth.  I took the road to the left at the top and finished the climbing just above the road to Fiesole.  Nice descent to Fiesole then down to Pian de Mugnone, finishing with Via Faentina to Le Cure, then home.  Another great time on the bike.  13.9 miles in 1:13 rolling time for a slow average speed of 11.4 mph with 1657 vertical feet of climbing at a sun effected temperature of 54.

Vincigliata, Fiesole, Pian de Mugnone, Firenze - quickie by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

One of the many options riding up to San Domenico from Le Cure.

A tight, walled road that descends from Maiano to the start 
of the climb to Vincigliata.

The beautiful cypress trees lining to road climbing to Vincigliata.

Just above the castle at Vincigliata, you come upon this small church.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two rides in one post, but sorry, no pictures.

I will catch up for two days of rides, one short and one long, but alas, I forgot the camera this morning on the long ride and did not take it on the short ride so no pictures.  Yesterday, I had lunch with Emily and a friend which is not something I do often.  It was really good and fun for a change.  Before lunch, Emily and I checked out a couple of markets and had a nice cafe at a favorite place in the Centro.  After lunch, Emily and her friend went to another "craft" market while I returned home and as it cleared a little and had not rained since early morning, the roads were mostly dried out.  Well, if you read this often, you know me, I love to get out.  It was 3 before I left, and I did a nice ride on one of my basic short rides, the ride through Cercina.  I really enjoyed it today.  It is really nice not having the noise in my free wheel hub anymore.  Not only was the noise quite annoying, I think it made me slightly anxious while riding, and anxiety is a waste of energy.  I tried a different way to ride around the Carreggi area, which involved more climbing than I thought, but was really quite nice.  I had walked in the area when it was raining last week and it worked well on the bike.

This morning, I was up early to meet the team and ride a preview of the medium length course for this spring's granfondo Firenze.  We started with 10, which is a good turnout as it was only around 47 degrees when we started, although it was sunny.  We rode up through Fiesole to the junction just below the Croce alle Vetta.  3 people returned from here, one to work and two that did not want to keep going.  The remaining 7 continued down through Polcanto then up to Scarperia.  I was talking with a new person on the team during this time who speaks English quite well.  He is a pastry chef at a very fancy restaurant here, and had lived in many places in Europe to get experience and refine his craft.  He suggested I check out San Sebastian in Spain as a wonderful place to visit.  He is scheduled to visit a friend in the States next summer, in Telluride, where I lived from 78 to 83.  I told him some things about the town, and it was interesting.

As we rolled into Scarperia, it started sprinkling which soon turned to real rain.  So, out of the sunshine into the rain all at around 48 degrees.  I seemed to be the only person who knew where the course went, so I led us over through San Agata to Galliano.  The rain pretty much stopped in Galliano, and we turned back toward Firenze.  After around 5 kilometers, we had a choice of continuing with the course or going directly back.  3 decided to go directly back and 4 of us continued with the course, which involved going around a large lake for 15 kilometers or so.  After the tour around the lake, we rejoined the main road and climbed up through Vaglia to Pratolino.  We had to regroup here, as one person was getting tired and was dropped when we climbed.  At Pratolino, one person decided to return directly to town, as the course involved more climbing.

3 of us continued climbing up then down and over to the Olmo junction.  Here another person took off, basically due to the fact that returning to Fiesole would take him more directly home.  2 of us descended down Via Faentina through Caldine and Pian de Mugnone and turned off for the Via Salviati climb to complete the course.  This climb is as hard as ever, with around 50 vertical meters at 20%, which is a little cruel after around 1400 meters of climbing on the day.  It will certainly be more so after the long course which includes an additional 1200 meters of climbing.  After the Salviati climb we descended down Via Bolognese and I dropped off at the apartment.  Great day and we were back in the sunshine.  60.9 miles in 4:06 rolling time for an average speed of 14.8 mph with 4557 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 49.

Quick afternoon to Cercina with alternate return around Carreggi. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Medio corso de granfondo preview con squadra by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, November 22, 2013

Great fall ride - winter clothing for this first time this year!

Man, did it rain yesterday.  Last night it really poured.  I had thoughts of riding yesterday, but wisely decided on a walk instead.  The walk was nice, but I am pretty passionate about riding, and would much rather ride than walk.  This morning, the skies were mostly clear and the forecast was for pretty nice weather until around 5 or 6 when the rain is supposed to return.  After breakfast and a few required tasks, I suited up to ride.  The outside temperature at the start was around 47, so for the first time this year, I broke out the winter tights and the winter booties, along with the light wool balaclava.  It all proved to be a good decision, as I was pretty comfortable on the ride.

I am trying to work in rides that I do not do lots, and today, I was planning on the climb to Poggio alle Croce as the ride that I wanted to fit in.  I took off toward Ponte a Ema, and hooked up easily with the climb to San Gersole through Vacciano.   Nice climb, and when I was riding through San Gersole, an older woman in front of her apartment smiled and greeted me with a Buona Giornata!  It was really nice, and I told her to have a nice day.  It seemed obvious that having me ride by on a cold day made her smile.  Her reaction certainly made me smile.  I have been reading a book that an old ski buddy has written about skiing and the life of a mountain town skier.  I have enjoyed it, and part of what he talks about is the community of skiers that back country skiing makes you a part of.  I have been thinking that the same is definitely true of the cycling community here.  One of the differences is the length of history of cycling here, but it is definitely a community and the events with teams, etc. always make me feel special to be here and enjoy being a part of the scene.  Anyway, the woman's delight reminded me of the cycling community here and how it is an old and integral part of the culture.

I rode over through Impruneta and Strada, and decided to climb to La Panca, as I usually descend this piece.  The climb was really nice, and the descent through Dudda to the little road over to Brollo was special.  I very rarely descend this piece of road, but climb it at least once a month.  The little road over to Brollo is just plain special.  It is really beautiful, great views, tiny road, almost no traffic, and a pretty good surface.  The hardest climb of the day is from Brollo to the pass at Poggio alle Croce, but it felt good.  I descended to San Polo, which I don't do much, then climbed to the little pass to descend through Cappanuccia to Grassina.  Home through Cinque Vie and the Viales, and I enjoyed a wonderful 3 plus hours of riding.  44.2 miles in 3:12 rolling time for an average speed of 13.8 mph with 3658 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 52, which includes the effects of the sun.  Dolce!

Vacciano, Impruneta, La Panca, Brollo, San Polo, Cappanuccia, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Almost back.  I love this view on the way to Cappanuccia from San Polo.
The skies cleared and it got warmer as I returned to Firenze.

A couple of views of the vineyards and cypress lined drives
on the road that cuts across to Brollo from the Passo de Sugame road.

A pretty road on the first real climb of the day on the way to Vacciano.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rainy, windy ride to the Southeast.

I started my new Italian classes yesterday, and when I got home, it was rainy, so I did not get out yesterday.  There was also some confusion at the school, and I was mistakenly put in level 7 when I thought I belonged in level 3.  After the class, the teacher said I should be in level 4 and that she would talk with the head of the school before this morning.  When I arrived, all was set, and I had my first day in level 4.  It seems fine, and the way the school works, they do a test the first week, which is basically on what we will cover in the next 4-1/2 weeks.  Not sure I like the test piece, but they are the experts, and I just need to get better with the language, so I go with the flow.  The school is quite reasonably priced, and is the same school I used last winter.

It rained while I was in class, but when I got home, it almost looked like it might clear.  Knowing myself, I decided to get out regardless of the weather, and took off with threatening skies overhead.  I headed out toward Bagno a Ripoli, then over to Pone a Ema to take the back road to Osteria Nuova.  I really like this route there and it has become my standard when going this way.  I hooked up with the main road then finished the climb to San Donato in Collina, then enjoyed the descent to the Arno valley.  I turned off on the road on the west side of the Arno, and stayed with it to the little road that goes up though Santa Maria to Bombone.  I had not climbed this in quite a while, and it was really fun. Riding here, you have to enjoy the climbs and look forward to them, rather than simply tolerate them.

From Bombone, which my team mates tell me is slang here for a "splief", I rode over through Volognana the descended to Rosano.  Somewhere after San Donato, it really started raining, but I stayed with it, and the rain stopped after 15 minutes or so.  The roads were very wet, so I was quite cautious with my speed on the descent to Rosano.  After Rosano, I stayed on the South side of the Arno, coming back into Firenze by way of Bagno a Ripoli, Gavinana, then back home powering on the main road.  After I joined the Arno valley again in Rosano, I encountered a head wind which beat me up a little on the return push.  Oh well.  39.3 miles in 2:55 rolling time for an average speed of 13.4 mph with 2559 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 55.  Rain, wind, cool temperatures and all, I still really enjoyed getting out.

San Donato in Collina, Le Valli, Santa Maria, Bombone, Rosano, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Around Burchio, the road and countryside is beautiful.

When I saw this glimpse of blue sky, I decided it was time
for a picture or two if I was going to take any.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick morning ride between commitments.

I stopped by the shop late last week to see if my new free wheel hub was in, and it was.  I set up an appointment for this morning to get it installed.  The second mechanic is on vacation, so the main mechanic was too busy to do it the day I learned it was at the shop.  Anyway, he installed it while I waited and within 10 minutes, I was finally set.  The old one was shot - rusted and making what I consider a nasty noise.  Well, finally the noise is gone, and everything seems to be working more smoothly mechanically.  I have a fulcrum wheelset, and they ordered the free wheel hub to go with the fulcrum, which means it is a Campy, so it does have the louder "ratchet" noise that is typical on a Campy free wheel hub, but this is fine.  I had committed to babysit for Kate at one, so I had a couple of hours to sneak in a ride.

I chose a ride I thought would be around 1-1/2 hours, but was shorter.  I went up the main road to Fiesole, which I rarely do, and enjoyed the climb.  I stayed on this road through Fiesole and continued the climb to the turn off just before the pass.  I turned off and descended on Via Faentina all the way home through Caldine, Pian de Mugnone, and Le Cure.  The weather was surprisingly nice and warmish.  The ride was 17.9 miles in 1:15 rolling time for an average speed of 14.3 mph with 1555 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 62.

I enjoyed the quick work out and was home in time to relax a little before going to Kate's for babysitting.  Torrio, the younger of our two grandchildren, is almost 3 and is really fun to be around these days.  He is just excited and exuberant about almost everything.  The down side is he shows the same exuberance with being angry or crying when that is going on, but the vast majority of the time it is positive energy, which is simply fun to be around.

Fiesole, Olmo, Caldine, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of pictures from the ride above Fiesole on a very nice morning.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Domenica mattina con squadra - sono contento.

Up relatively early this morning and out riding to Tavernuzze to meet the team at 8:30.  It is around 1/2 hour to Tavernuzze, and I only expected a few people to show, as it was cloudy, relatively cool, and it is late fall.  We had a big group of 15, and it was fun.  The group splintered more than normal, and I stayed with the front group after moving up and back to say hello to all.  I stayed with the front group to Panzano, and we waited around 15 to 20 minutes to regroup.  I first declined a cafe, as I was expecting the ride to continue to Radda, then back on a yet to be determined route.  When everyone was at Panzano, all decided to return to Firenze, so I joined a few folks for a cafe, as there was not rush at this point.  While we were having a cafe, the group broke apart, and some left to return home as we walked to the cafe, then others eventually followed.  It turned out that our group of 5 was the last to leave Panzano, which was fine.

I led the group down, and waited in Greve for the others.  Alessandro arrived after a couple of minutes then we waited for another 10 minutes or so before deciding to retrace the descent or climb to Panzano again to see what happened.  Around 2/3 the way up, we found our other three, who were working on fixing a flat.  It is good we returned, as they were not being successful with the project.  We helped, the flat was fixed, and we descended to Greve.  While I was waiting, I was feeling good, and decided to ride up Passo de Sugame then down and over to La Panca, then return to Firenze.  None of the others wanted to join me, so I took off from the flat repair location solo, and returned to Firenze.  Really nice route back, as the Passo de Sugame climb is really nice, and the descent from the top to the La Panca turn off is one of the most scenic roads around.  Super nice.  Add the descent from La Panca into it, which is one of my favorites, and you have a great return to Firenze.

I finished it up with a route through Grassina, Cinque Vie, the back on the Viales.  Sweet morning ride.  56.9 miles in 3:37 rolling time for an average speed of 15.7 mph with 3835 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 53.

Tavernuzze, Greve x3, Panzano x2, Sugame, La Panca, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A big group of 15 this morning at the meeting place in Tavernuzze.
Good ride this morning, squadra.

I was captivated by the vineyards with this lone tree in 
the middle, all in full fall color.  A couple of pictures.

On the climb to Passo de Sugame, I pulled out the camera for this
picture of a villa above some vineyards in fall color.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wonderful afternoon ride to the North.

I had a fun and very full day today.  Emily and I took a small tour through Friends of Florence of the palazzo at Poggio Imperiale, which is now functioning as a public school.  Much of the building is basically museum quality and is not used for the school.  It is beautiful and I learned quite a bit about the history of the building, which is nice as I often take clients by here on rides.  Now I have some real information about the building.  We were waiting for the bus, and Kate called to tell us they were in the Boboli, and if we wanted we could join them.  Emily had a commitment, but I did not, so I joined them for an hour and one half or so.  What fun it is to spend time with them in such a great magical place.  They are really changing all the time with Torrio becoming more of a "boy" all the time playing Peter Pan, and always with a stick to sword fight with.  Viola, while she still enjoys roughhousing, is really into play acting scenarios which can happen in the Boboli.  Add Jen and her daughter Juliet, who is Viola's age, into the mix and you have a fun time.

I got the bus home, which was it's own adventure, as a school let out right before I caught the bus, so it was truly packed with probably 25 people left behind at the bus stop.  Not my favorite scenario, but I could hang in there packed like a sardine for 15 minutes.  Then it was off to the COOP for grocery shopping, then home to get ready for a ride.  I am planning on riding with the team tomorrow morning, so I did not want anything too long.  I also did not get started until a little after 2, so anything long was not in the offing.  I did a favorite 2 hour or so ride that has lots of climbing.  It was a beautiful day, although quite windy, but the ride felt great.  The wind really slows me down a bit, but I was not racing anyway.

Out through Le Cure, then up option #3 to San Domenico, then up to the turn off for Maiano, the descent to the start of the Vincigliata climb, then the climb itself.  This is the hardest part of the ride with probably around a kilometer at 10 to 15%.  I turned and took the curvy descent into Compiobbi, then hooked up with the climb through Monteloro to the Fiesole road for my final descent back into town.  Really fun on a beautiful day.  26.6 miles in 2:09 rolling time for an average speed of 12.4 mph with 3199 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 56.

San Domenico, Maiano, Vincigliata, Compiobbi, Monteloro, Fiesole, home. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of road pictures on the climb above Vincigliata.

As I came around the corner and past the monastery on the way to Monteloro, the light on 
this vineyard caught my eye, so I took a couple of pictures.   Che bella!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nice, short ride to the North.

IKEA trip this morning with Emily and we are set for Christmas with a fake tree, ornaments, and some other miscellaneous items.  The weather was pretty iffy all day, and the forecast initially was for rain.  It appeared, depending on which direction you looked, to be clearing a little when we returned.  The roads had dried out after a pretty steady rain last night, so I thought, hey get moving and get out there.  I did a short ride pretty close in to home, but it is a very nice ride, great roads, scenic, what more could I ask for.  Up Via Bolognese to Pian de San Bartolo, turning off for Cercina before the climb gets steep on Via Bolognese, which is nice.  The road down, up, over, up through Cercina is a favorite and it never disappoints.  Option #3 for the descent with a couple of added climbs at the end for the heck of it.

Lucky to have such quality short rides available.  14.8 miles in 1:12 rolling time for an average speed of 12.4 (wet roads mean careful descents) mph with 1493 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 59.

Pian de San Bartolo, Cercina, Careggi, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

It looks a little brighter back in the city.  Peaceful and
beautiful up here in the Cercina area.

Looking toward Monte Morello on the way to Cercina.

A close up of the church above Cercina.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nice recovery ride in the Chianti hills.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow, so I wanted to get out for a reasonable ride today, even if I should have been recovering from yesterday.  I accomplished a couple of things first in town, both notable for me.  I actually managed to invite some Italians who are kind of Kate's extended in law family for dinner using the phone.  Basically, my Italian is pretty challenged, and doing it on the phone is always an adventure, so I was happy to get it done.  I also went by the shop, and the new free wheel hub is in, but I cannot get it installed until Monday, but I now have an appointment.  This means that the "horrible" noise the free wheel has been making will be gone by Tuesday - Hooray!

I decided to ride to the south, and enjoyed the close in hills in the Chianti region.  I rode out by going up to Poggio Imperiale, then down to Galluzzo, then up the main road toward Impruneta, but turned off to descend through Baruffi toward Tavernuzze.  I haven't ridden either of these pieces in a while, so it was fun to be back on these roads.  I rode out the main road through Tavernuzze and Falciani to the turn off for Luiano.  I enjoyed this climb, as I always do, and today, the fall colors in the vineyards were particularly amazing.  I also am in the midst of adjusting my handelbar height and half way up, I adjusted to what may be the right height.  I am trying to eliminate a neck pain that has been developing as I ride lately.  Luckily, it goes away pretty fast, and does not keep me from riding, but getting the right height should help.  I think I will look for information on line on how to calculate the "right" height versus the seat post.

At the top of the Luiano climb there were many, many cars parked and it must be high season for mushroom hunting, as they do that in this spot.  I think they are after porcini mushrooms.  Last year I noticed this and asked, and was told porcini mushrooms.  Above Luiano, I hooked up with the road to San Casciano, and enjoyed the fast climb / descent / cruise over through Chiesa Nuova to start the descent into Galluzzo.  I decided to return by way of Cinque Vie, then powered home on the Viales.  Great ride.  39.2 miles in 2:43 rolling time for an average speed of 14.4 mph with 2546 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 62.

Poggio Imperiale, Impruneta, Tavernuzze, Luiano, San Casciano, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Perfect fall colors in the vineyards around Monteoriolo.

A little break before the descent through Baruffi led
to this picture of the road and the vineyards.

The fall colors are still beautiful on the climb to Luiano.

The vineyards with some of the Chianti hills in the background.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gran Fondo Firenze 2014 course preview.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Back on the bike after 5 days, riding to the West and South.

After 5 days off the bike, I was back on it today, and it sure felt great.  I really enjoyed a super trip to Venice with Emily to celebrate my 60th birthday.  The birthday was a month ago, but I was pretty busy with tours, thankfully, so we waited until things slowed down for the trip.  For the first time, we used a service called airbnb, which we rented an apartment through, and it was great.  A pretty nice apartment, with an excellent location - quiet, picturesque, and close enough to the tourist craziness to join in when we wanted.  We had a 3 day pass on the Vaporetto service, which worked well and was fun.  The interior architecture in the new exhibition space in the Dogana was a highlight for me.  Although the forecast was for at least 2 days of rain out of our 4 days there, we did not really have any rain.  It started as we made our way to the train station.

Yesterday, the weather really was saying not to ride, and I took my first real walk for a workout of the year, which was pretty fun, but I really love riding.  Today, everything cooperated, with the exception of wind, and you just have to deal with that if you want to get out.  I do the Viola school pick up today, so I had to be home at a certain time, and also thought a 3 to 4 hour ride would be appropriate after a number of days off.  I have really enjoyed the route from Signa to Pinone lately, and rode it today.  It is just a very nice climb, mostly gentle, although the last 3 kilometers average 7 to 8%, most of it is pretty user friendly.  I don't ride it that often, so it is also nice to do that.  I took the nice descent into Limite today, which is really fun.  I took it quite slow, as there were occasional, around 1/3 of the time, heavy wind gusts which just moved you around on the road.

From Limite, I rode through Montelupo to Ginestra, then climbed to Malmantine and cut over through Marliano, Vigliano, Roveta and Santa Maria a Marciaola to the descent into Scandicci.  Again, the descent was a little slow, as the wind was doing it's thing.  Still fun.  After getting into Scandicci, it is just a power crank back to the barn.  Sweet.  47.8 miles in 3:24 rolling time for an average speed of 14 mph with 3278 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 62.

Signa, Carmignano, Pinone, Limite, Ginestra, Marliano, Scandicci, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The view back to the North, toward Prato, on the gentle climb from 
Comeana to Carmignano.

Looking toward Pinone, the top of the climb from above Comeana.

I liked the view through this olive orchard just below Carmignano.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wonderful fall ride through Chianti.

Wow, what a perfect day for a ride.  Mostly sunny, a temperature of around 60 at the start, climb to around 68 by the end of the ride.  The fall colors in Chianti are seemingly at their height, and it is a pleasure to ride though the area.  Emily and I are off on a short trip to Venice tomorrow, and I will be off the bike for at least 4 days, which will be very good for me physically.  I tend not to take as many days off as I should.  I picked a ride I had done with Dave and Colorado a few weeks ago, checking the timing for what I was after.  When we rode it together, it took us 4:25 rolling time so I was surprised today when it took me 3:28 rolling time.  I guess even with fast riders you just go a little slower on a tour with clients.

I rode up through Ponte a Ema, Osteria Nuova, San Donato in Collina, then down through Troghi, Cellai, Incisa to Figline.  In Figline, I turn off to climb toward passo de sugame and turn off just before the top to go through La Panca.  I stopped today in Dudda at one of my favorite cafe / bars and had an excellent cafe normale and a cookie called a riciarello.  Both were great.  After Dudda, you turn off, take a little descent, then finish the climb to La Panca.  I found the water source there, which I was pretty sure I knew the location of, but had never verified and gotten water there.  Excellent water, just below the church at the top of a little park.  The descent toward Strada is one of my favorites, and today was excellent.  I continued the descent toward San Polo, then climbed the long, super mellow grade up to San Polo, turning off here to climb up and over a little pass to Capanuccia.  From Capanuccia, it is a nice slightly down hill ride into Grassina, where you easily hook up with the road to Cinque Vie, then up and over to the Viale.  Power ride home and there it is.  49.7 miles in 3:28 rolling time for an average speed of 14.3 mph with 3642 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 67.

San Donato, Figline, La Panca, San Polo by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Colors ahead on the way to Dudda and La Panca.

Around 1/2 up the climb.

Somehow, if you look at it right, the rows of the vineyards
line up with the cypress trees on the driveway above.

Vineyards on the climb to Dudda.

The vineyards just before Dudda.

My cafe and riciarello on the bench outside the bar in Dudda.
It was great.