Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vallombrosa on a warm February day.

I will call this my first training ride for the granfondo coming up at the end of March.  After last weekend with the team, the longer ride had me tired, and I thought, I need some more long rides with lots of climbing.  We I had lots of climbing today, but the ride was not as long as I thought.  A really great training climb from Leccio to Saltino / Vallombrosa though, around 900 vertical meters without any real let up on the way.  Steepest part is around 13% and the gentle piece is around 3%.  I would guess an average of 8% for 900 vertical meters, which is probably why it is a cat 1 or beyond cat climb, depending on who you listen to, as it has been used in the Giro D'Italia a few times, most recently last year.

I started out going through Ponte a Ema, then up Via Carota to Osteria Nuova, then on up to San Donato in Collina.  My first descent from there to Leccio was great.  I am loving the new tires.  I think today was my first time to ride directly from Leccio to Vallombrosa.  The last time I tried, I turned the wrong way at Pietrapiana, and ended up climbing from a different point.  It is a super good, very continuous climb, and just what I was after for training.  I enjoyed a short break in Saltino, with a very good cafe and a candy bar to stoke the internal fire.  It worked.  Also, it is basically downhill from there.  I really enjoyed the descent.  For perhaps my first time, the roads were dry, I have new tires, and I let it go pretty good.  Super winding, twisting road to Tosi, where the road gets bigger, but the descent continues to Pelago.  There is a little climb in Pelago, then the descent continues to Pontasieve.

Fun ride, and for the first time in many months, no booties, knee warmers and not tights, and only a base layer t-shirt and a long sleeved jersey.  Loving the warm weather we are getting right now.  Although this ride was a little shorter than I thought, I realized that for my ultimate preparation ride for the granfondo, I can ride over to Consuma from Vallombrosa, then down to Stia, up Croce ai Mori, then back to Firenze.  It should add around 700 vertical meters and bring the distance to around 150 kilometers, which would put both at similar points to the granfondo.  Sweet ride today!  53.1 miles in 3:50 rolling time for an average speed of 13.8 mph with 4731 vertical feet of climbing at an average (sun effected) temperature of 64.

San Donato in Collina, Leccio, Vallombrosa, Pelago, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A church that lines up perfectly on axis with the road on 
the climb to Pietrapiana from Candeli.

On the climb to Saltino, many ranges of hills / mountains are visible.
If you look really hard, there is snow on the highest peaks in the background.
This is obvious in person, but not perfect on a photo.

The gate to the Vallombrosan monastery in Vallombrosa.  Not
the original building, but the original location for this order
that spread around the world.

 A close up of the ironwork above the gate and the monastery in
Vallombrosa.  I know the order is from Vallombrosa, and a famous
early renaissance crucifix was made / painted for this monastery.
Anyway, pretty cool iron work.  

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