Monday, March 31, 2014

Post Granfondo recovery ride.

Slow, easy start today, but the weather was so nice, I just had to ride.  I wanted to ride to flush out my legs from the exertion yesterday.  I ended up doing a 2-1/2 hour ride with as little vertical as I can find for that length here.  I made a big effort not to push at any point, and I think I was successful.  I ended up with a 39.2 mile ride in 2:40 rolling time for an average speed of 14.7 mph with 1122 vertical feet climbed at a perfect sun effected temperature of 76.  Out through the Cascine to the back way to Signa, across the river to Lastra a Signa, then out the river road to Montelupo.  A quick stop for water, but the line was long and I did not really need it, then up the valley to Ginestra Fiorentina, where I stopped for a cafe and water.  Back on the bike and up to Cerbia, then the only real climb of the day, with a tail wind to Chiesa Nuova, along / down the ridge to the Scandicci turn, then the descent to Scandicci.  Head down but no hard pedalling back to Firenze on the busy roads.

Flushing the legs - Firenze, Montelupo, Cerbia, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The ginestra were so bright, I felt they were calling me to take
a picture.  This is on the way to Signa from the Cascine.

Beautiful valley on a beautiful day.   The road between
Montelupo and Cerbia.

Granfondo Firenze - finally the big event for me.

What a great ride yesterday.  Although I have participated in a couple of granfondo's and a few other similar events in the past, this is the first time I was looking at it as a "race".  I purchased my own timing chip, as the rent amount equals the cost in three uses, so I am set for a few more this season.  We shall see.  The spring forward time change here was Saturday night, so we were at it quite early.  The long course, which I rode, is difficult, so I got up quite early so I could do my full 1 hour yoga / stretching routine before the race.  It was cool when we met, but it became sunny and quite nice.  The shell I wore before the start was in my pocket the whole ride.  I thought I would need it descending the two big passes, but it really warmed up.  I was also doing my best to go as fast as I could and did not take the time to put the shell away and did not want to take the time to put it on and take it off.

The start was pretty slow, as we all took the World Championship course from the Cascine park to Fiesole.  There were a number of bottlenecks, as we had to alter course due to another event in the Cascine.  It was fun and memorable to ride the course through the old part of the city, past the Duomo before getting out on the Lungarno, then turning toward Campo de Marte.  Somewhere around Campo de Marte, we rode across the official start / timing pad which started the official distance of 140 k with 2800 meters of dislivello (climbing).  I had resolved not to go out too fast, but I simply went with my energy level, which had me riding quite fast with a group kind of close to the lead.  As we got to the steeper part of the climb to Fiesole, things loosened up a bit.  I seem to be a good climber these days, and probably passed around 100 people on the Fiesole climb.

After the little steep climb above Fiesole, I settled in with a fast group for the remainder of the climb to Croce alle Vetta, a nice 10 kilometers at around 2% average grade.  A good piece of the ride to be in a group.  There was an aid station at the Croce, but I did not stop.  I had managed to consume a banana during the ride from Fiesole and stay with the group, so I was set.  I fell in with a fast group of around 8 for the descent to Borgo San Lorenzo.  From Borgo San Lorenzo to the start of the Giogo climb, I hooked up with a group of around 40 that kept a very fast pace all the way past the Autodromo to where a steep climb broke everyone up.  In that group I found Lorenzo, the president of our team, and we rode together until the climb, when I left him.  He was doing the mediofondo anyway, and they turned off around 200 kilometers after I dropped him.

At the turn to Passo Giogo, the game was on.  This is a climb of around 12 kilometers with an average grade of 6.5% with the steepest parts around 14%.  They had signs at the start of the significant climbs which gave the riders all that information.  I felt surprising good up Giogo, but did not push the gearing and went to the easier / easiest gears when needed.  I stopped at the top and grabbed 3 slices of cake, refilled the water, and was off on the descent.  It is a super beautiful descent to the very pretty little town of Firenzuola.  The people living the the little towns on the way down and in Firenzuola were really nice and many were out lining the course and cheering you on as you passed.  You could almost fantasize you were a pro.  Almost.  After Firenzuola, the course went a different route than either of the routes I had taken on my preview rides.

It went up almost directly from Firenzuola, and the first 3 kilometers or so I would guess averaged around 12%, which is pretty tough at this point in the race.  The official sign had the climb to Passo Futa at 680 meters of climbing at an average grade of 6% with the steepest at 13%.  Yikes!  The good part is that there is a significant downhill in the middle of the climb, and after the long, steep part, it is pretty mellow up to the pass itself.  Another stop for water and a couple of bananas just before the top at the aid station, then another very fast descent to Santa Lucia, where you turn off to continue the descent a little before a climb past Panna of around 150 vertical meters (ouch) before you continue the descent to Galliano.  During the descents I felt really great, full of energy, surprising myself, as I was riding fast for me.

Around Galliano, I knew it would help to find a group, so as a few passed, I summoned the energy to hook up with them, and then it was a fast cruise.  Our group of eventually around 10 hooked up with another group around the turn to go around the lago biliancino, where we ended up being a group of around 40.  3 guys led the group all the way to Barberino, then during a short climb, a guy I was riding behind went to the front, and I followed.  I eventually led most the way back on the South shore of the lake, around 8 kilometers.  Having to relieve my middle aged bladder at the top of a little climb, I pulled off and found we still had a group of around 40 - kind of fun.  After getting back on the bike, there is a long, mellow climb through Vaglia before it starts to get steep before Pratolino.

I eventually caught most of the group, and let them help me until the steep part started.  While working to catch the group, I started passing some people doing the medio fondo, and they were going kind of slow and looking like they were tired.  For the first time all day, during the steep climb to Pratolino and above, I saw people in some real distress.  I don't think any real serious difficulties, simply worn out and a number walking with there bikes looking disgusted.  I think with the group doing the long course at the speed I went, there were not many people who were put off by that climb, but we had caught some of the slower riders for the mediofondo, which was a different deal.  This is also the last climb, other than the slightly sick Via Salviati climb before the end.

I passed many people on the way up past Pratolino, then started the descent around Bivigliano.  Sweet descent.  Again, I was feeling great, singing out loud, and just loving the day and being alive.  Che Bello!  Fast all the way to the dreaded Via Salviati, which had grabbed a place of dread in my mind.  I am definitely of the opinion that my mental state has a major place in my energy level and ability to ride at this level.  Via Salviati is not long, only around 200 meters, but there is around 50 meters of climbing at 20%, which hurts.  It was part of the World Championship course, so it was included.  There was a climb in the Terreno / Adriatico I watched that was over 30% for 500 meters, and I watched Contador weave his way up, and used that strategy on the Via Salviati climb which worked quite well.  Finished!

Luca found me after I had my first of three bottles of water, and literally was in tears of joy as he hugged me.  His parents and brother had come up from Puglia to see him race, and they all enjoyed us hugging and feeling good.  We had a couple of pictures taken, then I continued down to enjoy the pasta party back at the start in the Cascine.  Luca had decided with his family there he would simply go home and eat and rest.  His emotion and feelings at the finish will stay with me for a while as they were just simply joyful.  Around 8 people from the team who had done the mediofondo were still there and gave me a great welcome.  I have become something of an anomaly on the team, as I am the only American, quite a bit older than most and the oldest on the team by 7 years, and I am feeling good and strong.  Anyway, they saw me and stood up and shouted my name and all said bravi!  I basically inhaled the two plates of pasta, and soon my effort overtook me.  I said goodbye to all and said I was going home to sleep.  My Italian is pretty limited.

Lorenzo had looked up the times, and I finished in 5:04, 30th in my age group, which was from 56 to 62.  Overall I was 386th of the 674 finishers of the granfondo distance.  So, the timed part of the race was 87 miles in 5:04 time for an average speed of 17.2 mph with 9186 vertical feet of climbing.  Perfect weather, great event, and I feel so happy and thankful that life has brought me to where I am now.  I am enjoying it.

Granfondo Firenze - courso luongo - Mugello by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A picture of the team at our meeting point before we rode over
to get a spot on the starting grid.  A great group to be a part of.

Looking in front of us at the starting grid.  At least 1000 riders
are in front of us due to the timing of our registration.

Looking behind us at the starting grid.  What a fun event to
be a part of.  So many serious cyclists.

Returning from a quick break in the woods before the start,
this may give a better idea of the numbers at the start.  I 
think around 3000 cyclists.

Luca and I at the finish.  We had done a fair amount of training 
together and have become good friends.  He had pre-registered,
so was ahead of the group at the start.  Although he only finished 3 
minutes ahead of me, I did not see him all day.  We are both
feeling good at the finish.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Passo della Consuma con Luca.

A new friend, of probably around 4 months or so, had been absent from the team rides for a few weeks.  I was starting to wonder why, but remembered he had a trip to Milan and Paris planned, both for work, and thought I should wait.  He texted me earlier this week to say he had crashed a couple of weeks ago, and with the approval of the physical therapist, he would be able to get back riding in time for the granfondo Sunday.  He rode with the fisio (PT) on Wednesday and got the go ahead.  He wanted to ride a big climb, and Passo della Consuma is the biggest climb that is continuous around here.  It is rated for the pros as either HC or Cat 1, depending on the race.  We met at 8:30 at one of the bridges just outside of the centro, and started the ride.

He had lots of energy, as before the crash he had been training quite hard for the race Sunday.  He is less than half my age, but when he started training hard, I was a little stronger than him, but he gradually overtook me, and after today's ride I would guess he will do the long course somewhere between 15 minutes and 1/2 hour faster than I.  Great to see someone work hard and develop strength.  We rode out the busy road to Pontasieve, at a reasonable pace, but not too hard.  Right after Pontasieve, the climb to the pass starts.  Luca rides this pretty often, but I think today was my third time climbing this pass.  I have done the pass by going through Vallombrosa a couple of times before, which is how we returned today.

Around 1/3 the way up, I was thinking I was not quite as ready and strong as I thought, but it was a steep stretch of road.  Around 2/3 the way up, I was feeling good and strong, and actually pushing the pace for both of us.  Overall, we both enjoyed the climb, and I think it was a great final training ride before Sunday.  We took a break for pictures at the top, added a layer of clothing each, then started back down around 1/2 kilometer to the turn off for Vallombrosa.  We enjoyed the slight descent, mostly contour, over to Vallombrosa.  It is a beautiful road, although rough in a few spots.  We were the only people on the road that we saw, which was nice to ride with no traffic for 10 k or so.  We descended the route from Vallombrosa through Tosi, Paterno, and Pelago to the main road we had ridden up.

The descent continues down to Pontasieve, then it is just a head down crank back into town.  I did have more energy than Luca at this point, and led most of the way back.  At one point, I was pulling 5 people, and three passed, whom I hung with.  After a few kilometers, we had dropped Luca, so I slowed and we returned together.  Really great ride, and I am feeling ready for the big race on Sunday. 51.7 miles in 3:32 rolling time for an average speed of 14.6 mph with 4062 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature, including the sun's effect of 56.

Consuma, Vallombrosa, Pelago, Firenze con Luca L. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

At a team meeting last night, Rebecca asked me to take a picture of Luca,
as we have a few new members and she was not sure who he was.
This is around 2/3 the way up the climb to Passo della Consuma.

Luca and I at the Passo della Consuma.  The sign behind us really 
does say that.  They enjoy putting stickers on signs at the top of
passes here.  Consuma is 1050 meters or around 1000 meters above Firenze.

Another picture of Luca and I at the top, the Passo della Consuma.
The nice person who did the photos wanted to do one with this
background, as he thought it was more scenic than the sign.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guide training ride for Florence by Bike tours.

I did a short ride, but it took a while, as it was training to take out some tours for Florence by Bike, a shop here that I like and the sponsor of our team.  I often set up clients to rent bikes from them, and I use the shop, one of the best here in Florence for most of my bike related gear, which all you riders know is a fair amount of stuff.  A couple of years ago, I did a training ride for them, but it was the end of the season, I went out of town right after the training, and I was never used for a tour.  They have already set me up for one day touring, and I will hope for more.  They requested that I do the training ride again, which was fine.  If they are going to get me some work and have me take out tours, I will do what they want.  Leif, a friend, fellow guide, and team member, led the training ride.  Luca, a new person in town, and I went with Leif.

We basically did a very similar ride to what I did a couple of years ago, but there are new lunch spots, and it was a good refresher for how they like things done.  Also, after lunch, which the shop arranges, the guide is free to return to Florence any way they wish, which was a surprise to me.  So, it was certainly worth the time and effort.  I also got to meet Luca, a new guide for FBB, and he seems nice.  We rode out through Piazzale Michaelangelo, Poggio Imperiale, to Galuzzo, where we stopped for a cafe.  This is part of the planned tour, and at this time the clients generally want a little break.  We headed up the main road to Pozzolatico, and Leif pointed out good shade break spots.  We continued up the same road to Monteoriolo, where Leif showed us the two basic lunch options, which the shop sets up and picks before the ride.

We rode into Impruneta to see the restaurant they use if neither of the other spots works, then rode down through Bagnolo and saw the last, rarely used option for lunch.  Back down to Tavernuzze, then over to Galuzzo.  We had a new wrinkle going back to Florence by climbing up Bellasguardo, then back to the shop through the center of town.  A good way to bring tourists back to the shop, passing by Piazza Republica, and the Duomo.  A nice, relaxed ride for today.  Sorry, no pictures as I was being offically trained.

Florence by Bike guide training ride by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cloudy, cool, but great ride.

Errands this morning, actually until around 12:30, but I got a reprieve from picking up Viola, so I still had time for a reasonable ride.  I had this ride in mind, but would not have been able to add Monteloro at the end if I was picking up Viola.  I got out around 1:00, and it was cool, but warmer than yesterday. Light tights, light booties, and light gloves were great.  I used my light shell for descents as well.  I left town through Piazza Ferrucci, then over toward Ponte a Ema, hooking up with the Via Carota climb, then up to San Donato in Collina.  I love this route out of town as the Via Carota is quiet and very scenic.

I descended from San Donato to Cellai and turned off for the little road over to Bombone.  It starts with a steep climb, but it only lasts a couple hundred meters.  Then, it is a super nice road with great views.  It is not always smooth, but the roughest parts are on the climbs, which make that fine by me.  At Bombone, I hook up with a more main road and ride down, a little up, then a nice descent through Torri to Rosano.  It looked and smelled like rain, but I headed across the river to the Pontasieve side and headed back toward Firenze.  I turned off for the Monteloro climb, as I was feeling good, and what is a little rain anyway.  Well, the climb was great and I had no rain.  I had an Italian rider pass me on the way up, going quite fast.  I kept him in sight for most of the climb, but he was really going.  Perfect  climber, light, small, and he just seemed to float up the hill.

He surprised me at the top by waiting for me, then we rode together over to the Fiesole road.  His English was more limited than my Italian, but we communicated pretty well.  I even got a compliment on my Italian when I said I was sorry it was so bad.  He is a local rider and will be doing the granfondo, long course this Sunday, so we talked about that on the way up.  Before I knew it, I was at the top, and said goodbye and stopped for a bathroom break in the great outdoors.  A super fun descent awaits to Fiesole, then down the world championship pavement to town.  Fun ride and it is great to be feeling good again.  42.1 miles in 2:58 rolling time for an average speed of 14.2 mph with 3484 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 55.

Carota, Cellai, Bombone, Rosano, Monteloro, Fiesole, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The spring green is glowing even on a cloudy, chilly day.
This is looking toward the Chianti hills from the tiny road
between Cellai and Bombone.

The clouds are dropping some kind of moisture on the Mountain
on the other side of the valley from the Cellai / Bombone road.

There is snow on Monte Sechietti in the distance.  It appeared
to me that it might be snowing as I took the picture there.  I think
this picture shows the only blue sky I saw today.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quick late afternoon ride on a chilly afternoon.

Yesterday, it was a very wet, rainy, and slightly cold day.  I was happy with motivating to get out Saturday, as the weather behaved as predicted.  We had a nice day working on spring cleaning items before our guests arrive, then had dinner at Kate and Nicco's.  Kate had done some rearranging in the kids room, and they were ready for a "big boy bed" for Torrio.  We volunteered to go to IKEA with Kate to help and get the pieces back to their apartment and assembled.  Basically, that was our day from around 10 this morning until around 4 this afternoon when I was back home.  We did have a nice pizza lunch at a favorite spot in Piazza Santa Spirito after the assembly was complete.  Tonight, Torrio will sleep in his big boy bed with rocket ship sheets for the first time.  How exciting.

After returning home, I got my act together and was out on the bike by around 4:30.  Heavy tights, real booties, and long fingered gloves were back as it was a little chilly.  I rode a standard short ride, close to home that I had not ridden in a while, and it was super.  Up Via Bolognese to the turn to Cercina in Pian de San Bartolo, then down, up, down and over to Cercina.  Over and up to the church above the tiny town, then descent option number 4, my favorite into town.  I had to stop and take a little break to allow a timid driver to get a bit ahead of me, as there was not real room to pass, and where there was he speeded up.  Anyway, it feels kind of good to catch cars on a ride.  From the bottom of the hill, I climbed back up the over to the upper way into Careggi, then around up and over a little hill to avoid any real traffic.  Really nice ride.  15.7 miles in 1:13 rolling time for an average speed of 12.8 mph with around 1627 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 50.

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

On the way to Cercina from Pian de San Bartolo, these 4 
forycthia bushes were in full bloom.  Spring is here, even on a chilly day.

I love this church at basically the top of the hill above Cercina.

The view toward Monte Morello from close to the church.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cool and cloudy ride with a couple of team members.

The weather definitely changed late yesterday, and we had some rain overnight.  I was up anyway, and it did not appear to be raining, so I did my morning routine and got ready to go.  The sky was lightening up to the west, so I was hopeful for a dry ride.  I rode to the team meeting place in Tavernuzze fully expecting not to see anyone there.  I was surprised by David and Andrea, and said that.  We waited a little longer, and started out.  We rode out to Greve, and the plan was Sugame and La Panca, but signs said the road was closed, so we did the standard to Panzano and returned to Greve. We continued back toward town, and David and I turned off to climb through Luiano to San Casciano, but Andrea thought it looked like rain and went directly back.

I enjoyed the Luiano climb, and the weather was actually kind of nice.  Around 60, cloudy, but quiet, and no real rain, only a few sprinkles here and there.  From San Casciano, we headed back to Scandicci through Chiesa Nuova, and then rode back into the Centro.  Looking on Strava later, when I posted by ride, I noticed Luigi had shown up after we left, and ended up riding Sugame.  The road closure must be something one can walk around or even ride around.  Next time, I will find out.  Anyway, good ride today and good to get out.  57.4 miles in 3:35 rolling time for an average speed of 16.0 mph with 2605 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 60.

Greve, Panzano, Greve, Luiano, San Casciano, Scandicci, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Kind of a dreary day, but still a good ride with two other 
team members.  Buona Giro!

The view across the valley on the Panzano climb.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Climb-fest training ride. Fun, I think!

Still a little under the weather today, but with the forecast showing rain for the foreseeable future, I thought I would feel good enough for perhaps my last real training ride for the granfondo.  The is lots of climbing on the course, so for today's ride, I figured out a route that would maximize climbing for distance ridden, and it includes some pretty difficult, steep climbs.  Just like yesterday, around 10 minutes after I was on the bike and riding, I magically felt better.  I surprised myself with good energy for the whole ride and enjoyed the climbs.  I started with my regular route through Le Cure and San Domenico, then Maiano to the Vincigliata climb.  For some reason, today I decided to check the percent read out for some of the climbs, as I was wondering about the Montefanna climb in particular.

On Vincigliata, the percent stayed pretty steady between 10 and 15% for the first 3/4 of the climb, a little steeper than I thought.  At the top of the Vincigliata climb, I continued climbing over to the Fiesole / Olmo road, then turned off immediately for the Montefanna climb.  The percent quickly went up to 24%, which is steep.  Most of the climb stayed around 15%, but you know it is a steep climb when you feel like there is a little break in the grade and it reads 10 or 11%.  Vincigliata followed my Montefanna, is I think, the hardest close in climb around here.  Good for training.  You descend from the top of Montefanna to the Monteloro road, then continue up to the Olmo road.  I went across the road and climbed over to the start of the Montesenario climb.  I was surprised here, as even the steep parts were only around 15%, and I thought they would be steeper.  I enjoyed some water, a snack, and the great views at the top, then descended through Bivigliano to Vaglia.

What a descent.  Pretty long, good roads, and lots of turns and switchbacks for the entire length of the descent, basically from Montesenario.  Really fun today.  In Vaglia, I stopped for more water, then climbed to Pratolino, then turned off to climb to the Bivigliano road, where I mostly descended to Olmo, then through Caldine and Pian de Mugnone to the dreaded Via Salviati climb.  Because this climb is at the end of the granfondo, and has a grade around 20 to 22%, I have let it get too big in my mind.  It was not too bad today, but I still expect it to hurt at the end of 150 k with 2800 meters of climbing for the granfondo.  I often say your mental state is most important for climbing, and I need to remember that on the Via Salviati climb and not let it get to me.

Overall, a great ride with lots of climbing.  A climb-fest.  I had good energy for the entire ride and really enjoyed myself.  37.2 miles in 3:03 rolling time for an average speed of 12.2 mph with 5115 vertical feet of climbing at an average temperature of 69, which includes the effect of the sun.  Great training ride.  If the weather holds off, I will ride with the team tomorrow, but it certainly looks like it is closing in as I write this, around 6 pm on Friday night.  Ciao.

Climbfest training - Vincigliata, Montefanna, Montesenario, Vaglia, etc. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

An avenue of old cypress trees on the Vincigliata climb.

Another avenue of cypress trees on the Montefanna climb.

A beautiful villa at the top of the difficult part of the climb 
to Montefanna.

I have posted lots of pictures from Montesenario, but whenever
I am up there, the views are too good to pass up.  Here is another.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Beautiful spring ride on the warmest day since October.

What a beautiful day.  Unfortunately, I have caught a little cold, and almost did not go out.  After lying down, I decided to get up and get going, and I am so glad I did.  Being on the bike seems to cure me, as my head totally cleared up after around 15 minutes of riding.  For some reason, I am assuming I hit the wrong button or set of buttons after returning, the garmin information for the ride is lost.  I did look at the readings before I turned it off, though, so I have a very close recollection of the information.

I rode out through the Cascine to Signa, then over the bridge to Lastra a Signa, then along the river road to Montelupo.  Lots of riders out, as it appeared it was old guys day out on the bike.  Perhaps, the younger guys were at work.  In Montelupo I stopped for water and removed the arm and knee warmers to ride the remainder of the day with short sleeves and shorts.  First time since I would guess October.  Spring is so nice.  I stopped in Ginestra for a cafe and foccia, then climbed the little pass, up through Marliano, then continuing up past Santa Maria a Marciola, then down into Scandicci and home.  Really great ride and super to get out and have my head clear.  65 kilometers in 2:35 rolling time for an average speed of 25.3 kph with 550 meters of climbing at an average temperature of 75.  Sweet day!

Fields of ginestra in bloom on the way to Signa.

A bridge over the arno with reflection in the river on the way 
to Montelupo.

The first Iris' I have seen in bloom in Viliano.

The beautiful road toward Roveta from Viliano.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

First client ride of 2014 - The Chianti hills with Jenny and Colon.

Today was my first client tour of the year, and the season will get going with many more tours scheduled in April and May.  Two great clients from Australia.  My first client's from there, but I have two more scheduled for April.  Let's hope the word gets out down under.  We met at Piazzale Michaelangelo, and they had their own bikes which made things pretty easy.  From the emails, I expected them to have a little experience, but did not really know how strong they would be.  They turned out to be strong, and at every decision point, chose the longer option.  By the end of the day, however, they were saying they were pretty tired and simply wanted the easiest way back.  Good first client's of the year, strong, happy to be out riding, and appreciative of the Tuscan scenery.

We started by climbing Poggio Imperiale, then descending to Galuzzo.  Over to Cinque Vie, then up through Vacciano, San Gersole, Mezzomonte, to Monteoriolo to finish our first real climb.  We rode the ridge over to Impruneta for a cafe and pasty before getting back on the bikes.  We descended toward Falciani, then jogged over to climb through Liuano to the edge of Mercatale.  Second decision point, and definitely longer was on tap.  Down to the pretty valley, then up the steep climb to Montefiridolfi.  The steep climb was all they wanted, and perhaps a little more, but they were happy at the top and we took a little break in the beautiful little town square.  We enjoyed the ride along the ridge then descended to the valley around Bargino.  Last real decision point, and again longer was the option.

We climbed to San Pancrazio, took another little break, got more water, then descended along the ridge to Montagnana where we hooked up with the road to Cerbia.  Fast descent into Cerbia, then a nice climb to Chiesa Nuova, our last real climb of the day.  By the last climb, I always try to set a pace that keeps everyone together and it worked well today.  Colon was the slower of the climbers, but seemed to get stronger as the day progressed.  As we approached the top, a break was requested and we had another cafe and some schiaciatta before continuing.  Here they let me know they was basically done, but we rode together at a pretty reasonable pace back down the ridge to the Galuzzo switchbacks.  Regrouping in Galuzzo, the easiest way back regardless of traffic was requested.  We took the main road and were back at Piazzale Michaelangelo before you know it.  Good day Jenny and Colon.  It was a pleasure to take you riding in the Chianti hills.  Thanks for Riding with Cosimo.  51.2 miles in 4:10 rolling time for an average speed of 12.3 mph with 4147 vertical feet climbed at a sun effected (only during the last hour was the sun out) of 66.

Chianti hills with clients Jenny and Colon by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Jenny and Colon on the way to San Gersole.

Jenny on the climb through Luiano.

Colon on the climb through Luiano.

Jenny and Colon on the ridge between San Pancrazio and Montagnana.

Back at our meeting spot, Piazzale Michaelangelo, a good 
final picture with the city in the background.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ups and downs close to home on a beautiful late afternoon.

A couple of hour afternoon ride after a busy morning with a trip to IKEA.  We purchased all we need for the guests expected in less than a month.  We have a few guests coming in April and early May and needed to be ready.  We are close to ready now.  We bought an architectural drawing, pen and ink, from the early 1900's of a gate structure at San Miniato, and bought a frame at IKEA and we framed it when we got back.  Looks good.  I really like it, but I am an Architect.  A quick lunch left me with a few hours to ride, so I picked some fun climbs and descents close to home.

I rode out through Le Cure and up one of my back roads to San Domenico, then up to the descent through Maiano to the start of the Vincigliata climb.  After the climb, I descended to Compiobbi, then out the main road a kilometer or so to the Monteloro climb.  Great climb as always, followed by the fun descent to Fiesole.  I turned off in Fiesole today to descend on the World Championship Course to Pian de Mugnone, then back into town on Via Faentina.  Great afternoon ride.  Warm, sunny, what more could one ask for?  27.4 miles in 2:11 rolling time for an average speed of 12.5 mph with 3130 vertical feet climbed at a sun effected, sweet temperature of 70.

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

I decided on road pictures today.  I love these little walled in roads.

A couple of road pictures of my preferred route from Le Cure
to San Domenico on Via Palazzuolo.

Climbing up toward Vincigliata.

I liked this view toward Sieci and the Arno river from the 
Monteloro climb enough to stop and take this picture.
Glad I did, it is a good one.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Raduno #2, Humanitas. Ginestra, Romita, San Casciano, Scandicci.

What can I say, another beautiful day to be on the bike.  We met early, 7:30, so it started out a little chilly, but warmed up by the middle of the first little climb.  Today was the second raduno of the year, which is a multi team ride that one team sponsors.  We had around 14 today, which is a good showing, and I would guess there were 150 riders total doing the raduno.  It really is a fun scene, and for me, these rides have gone from a difficult work out to what I now call a social ride.  I ride all the time, so it is reasonable to be getting stronger.  I was recalling today, as I dialed back the effort, that I used to push almost as hard as I could to keep up.

Pretty tour today for the raduno, as the course left Scandicci and went to Lastra a Signa, then up and over the little pass to Ginestra.  Up a gentle valley to Bacciano, then the climb to Montagnana follow by the beautiful ridge climb to San Pancrazio.  We continued along the ridge to Romita, which is slightly downhill.  From Romita we dropped down to the valley, through Bargino, to the climb to San Casciano.  I resolved to ride this climb with the group, but the group broke up and I rode with Rebecca.  A nice relaxed pace was enjoyable.  From San Casciano, all back together, over through Chiesa Nuova, then down to Scandicci.  Really fun raduno, ragazzi.  Grazie.  51.4 miles in 3:22 rolling time for an average speed of 15.2 mph with 2638 vertical feet of climbing at a sun effected average temperature of 59.

Raduno Humanitas - Ginestra, Romita, San Casciano, Scandicci by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A couple of photos of the team regrouping in Montagnana after
a short climb.  More climbing to come.

In Montagnana.

The team at the controllo, or check point in Romita.
The road from Montagnana to Romita is one of my favorites.

Lorenzo accepting the Salami as our prize for 5th place overall.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Recovery" ride with lots of climbing in a short distance.

After a morning of errands and cleaning, my attempt for a day off from riding fizzled.  The weather is just too nice, and I am feeling very fit and have energy, so, why not?  I rode out through Le Cure, then up Via Palazzuolo to San Domenico.  I joined the Fiesole road, then descended through Maiano to the start of the Vincigliata climb.  Always a fun, but challenging climb, today it felt good.  I was definitely not pushing the pace, which is probably part of why it felt so good.  I took the road over to the Fiesole / Olmo road, and enjoyed the mellow climb to Croce alla Vetta.  I continued over toward Bivigliano, but took the turn off to Pratolino.  I got some water - excellent water and one of the more scenic fountains around here - then rode over to the Monte Morello road.  I turned left to descend down to the Cercina road, then took it over to the first descent option.  A good descent, then my now normal route through and around Careggi.

There is a huge manifestazione today, and roads are closed all around the apartment.  This simply meant that I had to add the little climb up Via Trieste at the end of the ride.  Great ride on another great day.  24.5 miles in 1:57 rolling time for an average speed of 12.6 mph with 2953 vertical feet climbed at a sun effected average temperature of 66.  Nice day.

Vincigliata, Croce alla Vetta, Pratolino, Careggi, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

I almost never take a photo here, although it is totally scenic.  
This is looking east from the climb from San Domenico to the
turn off toward Maiano.

A mimosa tree in full bloom on the way from San Domenico
to the turn off for Maiano.

I love this stretch of road from Croce alla Vetta toward Bivigliano.
Uphill this direction, but smooth, curvy, and scenic.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Beautiful tour with some teammates to watch the Tirreno Adriatico race come through.

What a fun day and tour today.  I decided yesterday afternoon to join some teammates to take a tour to watch the pro peleton from the Tirreno / Adridatico come by at the top of the only real climb of the day for them, at Poggio alle Croce.  We ended up with 6 of us, which is pretty good for a Friday.  The weather was again just perfect today.  We rode out through Grassina,  and Cappanuccia to San Polo, where we all filled water bottles.  The real climb to Poggio alla Croce was next, and it was really fun.  There was somewhere between little and no evidence that a big pro tour race was coming through in the next hour, which is totally different than when you watch the Giro.  The were a number of riders, both riding and waiting on the side of the road, but the numbers were maybe 1/10 th of what you would see for the Giro.

It was really kind of nice and low key.  The riders are all totally top flight, and the peleton was pretty big, I would guess around 150 riders.  When we reached the top and regrouped, we were able to hang with the race official who had a radio telling us the timing.  We had time to ride into town for some paninis to bring back to the top, which we did.  A break away group of 5 came first, and three of them sprinted away at the top for the extra points available.  Fun to watch the acceleration they can produce on a relatively steep climb.  After another 5 minutes, the whole peleton came by, which was awesome.  What a colorful site with all the pro kits and excellent riders.

A couple of impressions were that they are so smooth with their pedal motion it was cool.  Definitely something to work on always.  Also, there are so many vehicles associated with a pro race like this, around 40 motorcycles, probably around 50 team cars, and other associated vehicles.  Really cool and fun.  They were gone before you knew it, and all of us but Francesca decided to descend to Figline, then climb to La Panca, then cruise home through Strada.  Just a super fun day.  Again, a privilege to be here and enjoy the cycling community and culture.  Wow!  45.5 miles in 3:12 rolling time for an average speed of 14.2 mph with 3734 vertical feet climbed at a sun effected temperature of 74.  Che Bello!

Beautiful tour to Poggio alle Croce to watch the pro race. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Our group from the team starting the climb toward San Polo
on another simply perfect day for riding.

Awaiting the pro peleton - people looking downhill for the riders,
a few people up top, and probably around 
$100,000 worth of bikes lying there.

Here comes the peleton.

The colorful pro peleton.  So much fun to watch them fly by
with perfect form and a seemingly effortless pedal stroke.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Another great ride on another perfect spring day. Loving this weather!

Wow!  The weather just keeps getting better.  Even with a couple of fairly long rides the last two days, I planned a long ride today, as the weather is just pulling me out there.  I had never connected all the parts of today's ride, and I expected it to be 20 kilometers longer than it was, but perhaps the shorter distance was good for me.  Definitely tomorrow, something shorter.  Out through the Cascine, then out to Signa, where I turned off on the road to go up and over to the Umbrone river valley, then climb up through Comeana, Artimino, and Carmignano to Pinone.  I really like this climb and today it was very nice.  I stopped for a cafe at the bar / restaurant at the top, then headed down the most direct route to Limite.  What a fun descent.  Lots and lots of switchbacks, and the more I ride this road, the more confident I get with it, which translates into more speed.  Fun today!

From Limite, a quick 10 minutes of flat riding to Montespertoli, where I got water and took off my base layer.  Only a lightweight long sleeved jersey on top - hooray!  I rode out through Samontanna to the road to Ortimino which is a nice gradual climbing ride up a gentle valley.  A rider was in front of me almost all the way, when I got on the road, I could barely see him, and I eventually passed him around 1/2 kilometer before the climb started to Ortimino.  He stood on the pedals and quickly passed me, but I just hung in there with the gear I know works for me, and I passed him and ended up putting around 2 minutes into him by the road junction.  I was surprised, as I expected him to be basically right behind me.  I enjoyed the ridge climb to Montespertoli.  It is a beautiful ride, a nice road, and on a day like today, if you don't like this, what are you doing out there riding?

From Montespertoli, down to Bacciano, with a 5 minute snack break on the way.  I quickly caught a line of traffic following 3 large, very slow moving trucks, and I just thought, why get in this line.  I finished the day up and over Montagnana, then up to Chiesa Nuova, and home via Cinque Vie and Ponte a Ema.  What a sweet ride on an incredible day.  63.3 miles in 4:10 rolling time for an average speed of 15.2 mph with 3665 vertical feet climbed at a sun effected average temperature of 73.  Nice!

Signa, Pinone, Limite, Montelupo, Samontanna, Montespertoli, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Looking back toward Firenze from just above Carmignano.

Rolling in to Santa Christina a Mezza just above Carmignano.
The real climb to Pinone starts just after the climb.  I guess the
150 meter of climbing to Carmignano are not real?

What a day, and what a view, quite close to the top of
the climb to Pinone.  Great cafe in Pinone!

A view toward Poppiano from my break on the descent from