Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lamole, meeting Renato at the Irises, rain in Tavernuzze, return.

We had a very nice tour today, even if we did have around 45 minutes hiding from a true downpour.  We stayed relatively dry while hiding, but were all pretty wet upon our return.  We got a relatively late start, even though I said the forecast was for possible showers in the afternoon.  Oh well, none of us melted, and we are all home and happy now.  We rode out through Grassina, then up to Strada and then up to Passo de Sugame through La Panca.  This is a wonderful ride, although I did break a spoke on the way to Strada.  The bike still performed fine, I just had the rear brakes quite loose after the spoke breakage.  We rode down into Greve after Sugame, and spent some nice time having goodies from the excellent bakery there, and good cafe from a new coffee shop.  

After Greve, where Don got a new jersey, which he is modelling now, we climbed to Lamole in particular to see some Iris gardens we had all seen in the past.  Don stopped along the way to take pictures, and I was simply about 15 minutes faster than Kay, so I had some time at the top where the biggest Iris gardens are.  There were a couple of old men there, then one left, and the man remaining and I started talking.  Sometimes I feel like I will never get Italian, but sometimes, like today, I realize I actually am getting somewhere.  The man was the owner of the property and cultivates the Irises to harvest the roots which he sells to people who make perfume in France.  He rotates the Irises that are harvested each year.  When Don and Kay arrived, I was able to introduce them, and Don asked if I could find out if he could walk up to the highest garden to take pictures.  The man, Renato, walked us up through paths all the way to the top, showing us all the gardens on the way.  We got many pictures, and as we left, he asked us into his home to show us some pictures he had taken of the garden, and a picture of him with his first grandchild.  A really fun stop.

We returned back to Greve, and the skies were looking quite dark.  As we approached Passo de Pecorai, it really started pouring.  We took shelter under some trees, and waited 1/2 hour to 3/4 of an hour when it slowed down.  We rode into Passo de Pecorai, and took shelter there.  Both Don and Kay had full rain gear, and I only had a light shell.  Don suggested that I go ahead, as they would ride more slowly back on their own and I did not have the best rain gear on.  I powered back into town, stopped at the shop on the hope they could fix the wheel then, but it will be tomorrow, and was home to do bike maintenance.  All in all, it was a great tour, and the time with Renato in Lamole was a real highlight.  

Check out Grassina, Strada, La Panca, Sugame, Greve, Lamole, Greve, Tavernuzze, Firenze on! It's a 89.7 km ride I did on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.

A beautiful view from the climb to Strada from Grassina.

The start of the road to Lamole.  What a beautiful road.

The Iris garden above the road to Lamole.

Don taking pictures of the irises while we walked the terraced
gardens with the owner, Renato.

Don and Kay with the Iris gardens on the hillside.

My new pal, Renato at his Iris garden.  He sells roots
to a company in France for perfume.  I was happy that 
my Italian worked well enough for us to communicate.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Into the Mugello with Don and Kay - San Agata.

We got out at a reasonable hour this morning, and did my suggested tour in the Mugello.  We climbed up Via Faentina to Olmo and the crossroads just below the Pass, Vette alla Croci.  Neither Don or Kay had ridden on this road, so that was fun, and they liked the road and climb.  We continued climbing at a much shallower pitch over to Bivigliano, then really enjoyed one of the great descents here down to Vaglia.  Multiple switchbacks, sometimes linked with no straight in between, just a super fun descent.  From Vaglia, on the main road through San Piero a Sieve, then toward Scarperia, then turning off on the fun road to San Agata and a nice stop for cafe and water.  I love the little town and the bar that I get the cafe machiato at.

From San Agata, there is a little climbing left to the descent to Galliano, then down the main road to the turn for Bosco ai Frati.  I love this little road, mostly a descent and tiny and all but abandoned.  Fun!  Back to San Piero a Sieve, then over to the turn off on the outskirts of Borgo San Lorenzo to access the climb to Vetta alla Croci.  I was determined to keep the pace easy and keep everyone together, but before Polcanto, where it steepens up a little, Kay suggested we go ahead as she was happier going her own pace alone.  Fine with me, and I jumped off and really cooked on the remainder of the climb, with a Strava time that put me 7 overall on this part of the climb out of 51.  Not bad for an old man.  We regrouped at the top, and Don dealt with some bike issues, then a smokin descent through Fiesole, then down to Le Cure and home.  Nice, fun ride on what turned out to be a cloudy, but pretty nice day.  La bella vita!

Check out D&K - Faentina, Bivigliano, Vaglia, Sant Agata, Bosco ai Frati, Borgo, Vette alla Croci, Fiesole, Firenze on! It's a 87.0 km ride I did on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

The always beautiful road from Olmo to Bivigliano.

At the stop in Bivigliano, this view is over the little retaining wall.

Don and Kay on the way to San Agata.

I love this tiny road through Bosco ai Frati.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Short Chianti tour with Don and Kay watching for expected rain showers.

Don and Kay returned yesterday, and today we were able to get a ride in this morning before the predicted rain, which has kind of come, but not much.  Actually, the most rain we have seen so far was on the way to San Casciano and Chiesa Nuova.  We left going through Ponte a Ema, then hooked up with the climb through Vacciano to San Gersole, a road they had not ridden before.  They loved the road and the climb, so I was happy.  We continued climbing to Impruneta, where we stopped for a cafe, which was excellent, as always.  I had explained the ride today as having options to turn around, and not taking us too far away, as rain is in the forecast.  We continued from Impruneta, descending to the Luiano climb.  We climbed that and pulled over at the start of the descent to Montefiridolfi, and took in the weather.  

It had started to sprinkle, very lightly, but looking at the clouds, we decided to head home through San Casciano.  After a kilometer or so, it really did start to rain and we pulled over to put on our coats.  It rained lightly on us through Chiesa Nuova, then basically stopped.  We descended to Scandicci, then took off our coats and started the crank back into Firenze.  In less than 2 kilometers, it had started to rain again, so we pulled over and put the coats back on.  We made it happily back into Firenze, and the rain stopped again.  I suggested a stop at a gelato place, B-Ice, which is quite good and they had not been to.  We all enjoyed the gelato, then made it back home.  The rain has stopped again, but it still looks threatening.  I am glad we got a reasonably early start and were able to get a ride in.  I enjoyed being back out on the road with them both.  I had a little talk with myself about expectations, which helped quite a bit today.  I will try to keep expectations to a minimum and simply enjoy their company on the rides.  Ciao.

Check out D&K - Vacciano, Impruneta, Luiano, San Casciano, Chiesa Nuova, Firenze on! It's a 53.1 km ride I did on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

A fun picture of Don taking a picture of me, taking 
a picture of him, on the way to Vacciano.

A little shrine in Vacciano, next to the water fountain.

I love the look of this church in Vacciano.

Kay finishing the climb above Vacciano.

Don, finishing the same climb.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Giro de Mugello con squadra - bella giro!

I had a fun ride this morning with the team, although we only had 4 to start and 3 at the finish.  I kind of expected this, as we had so many people out yesterday.  Don and Kay return late this afternoon, and the forecast for tomorrow is for rain, so I wanted to get out with the group today.  Michelle, Leif's wife, joined us and did a great job staying with the group.  We did moderate the pace, but still, she worked it pretty well and hung right in there.  We stopped at Leif and Michelle's favorite place in Rufina for cafe and pastry, and it is a great spot.  After being shown the bar by Leif last year, I often stop there when I ride by.  Great cafe and pastries.  I thought Michelle was turning around at this point, but she decided, with a little help, to go to Dicomano, another 10 kilometers or so.  In Dicomano, she turned around to return to Firenze, leaving Davide, Leif, and I to finish the normal giro de Mugello.

We really put the pedal to the metal, and kept a very high pace most of the way back.  We rode the small road on the South side of the Sieve river, and enjoyed this beautiful road, averaging between 35 and 40 kph on a slight climb.  As we hit the climb to Croce alle Vetta, I was thinking of taking it easy, but we were rolling fast, it felt good, and I set personal records for parts of the climb.  Around 1/2 way up Davide and I dropped Leif, and we stayed together until around a kilometer from the top when Davide pulled away from me.  A little tired from many days in a row, I just did not have the motivation to stay with him.  He made it to the top around 100 meters ahead of me, as I kept him in visual sight all the way.  We waited for Leif at the top, then all descended down Via Faentina to Firenze.  Much of this descent is really fast now, as in the last year it has been re-paved.  Nothing like smooth, new pavement to get you rolling fast.  Another great day riding here in Tuscany.  Still loving it after a little over 2 years.  Ciao!

Check out Giro de Mugello con Davide, Leif, and Michelle (1/2 the way) on! It's a 81.5 km ride I did on Saturday, April 26, 2014.

Leif, Michelle, and Davide coming into Scopeti.

Same people coming into Contea.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Classic Chianti tour with Chris and the Squadra.

What an absolutely perfect morning / day to be out for a ride.  Chris Breckon, who is visiting for a week, wanted to do today's ride in Chianti to Radda and Castellina.  He spent 6 months here last Spring / Summer / Fall, and is part of the team.  He posted the ride on the team facebook page, and there was a lot of response.  We ended up with around 20 at the start, when Chris and I thought it would only be 3 or 4.  We all stayed together pretty good through Scandicci and Tavernuzze, but came apart a little on the way to Greve.  I was leading at one point, and when I looked back, it appeared I had everyone.  I only had one person from the team, but a group of 6 others had jumped on and I was fooled.  I simply slowed until I regrouped with everyone else, and we ended up in Greve in two groups.  Unless you are pretty disicplined with your pace, it is difficult to keep a group of 20 together.  

In Greve, a few people we talking about turning around, but they were easily talked into continuing to Panzano.  We headed out to Panzano, and when the real climb started, we totally broke apart.  Chris and Leonardo were off the front, and I stayed with them for only 100 meters or so.  Davide and Andrea caught me and momentarily passed me, but I stayed with my pace and gearing and quickly overtook them.  Davide encouraged me with a "grande, Marco", and I then chased Chris and Leonardo to the top.  They were only 2 or 3 minutes ahead, they said, and Davide ended up only 10 seconds or so behind me.  Fun climb.  I definitely pushed my pace and was hoping for a personal best on Strava, which I got.  Hooray!  Chris and I had a cafe and after they were done, we only had a small wait for the rest of the group to arrive.  All but 6 turned around here to return to Firenze.

The 6 remaining started off, but at the turn off to Radda, 3 decided on a slightly shorter route directly to Castellina, and Chris, Leonardo, and I headed up to Radda.  Well, my time of being ahead of others was over now, as Chris and Leonardo were definitely the strongest of the group.  We had a great climb to Radda, then Castellina, basically staying together.  They had to wait a minute or so at the Radda rotunda.  A smokin descent through San Donato in Poggio to Sambuca, then Bargino.  We took off for the final climb to San Casciano, and around 2/3 the way up, we caught and passed the three who did the slightly (15k) shorter tour.  We all regrouped in San Casciano, and rode back to Firenze together before splitting up to return to our respective homes.  Really fun, great tour on an excellent route on a nearly perfect day.  Ahhhh, Toscana!

Check out Chris and squadra - Greve, Panzano, Radda, Castellina, San Donato, San Casciano, Chiesa Nuova, Firenzeon! It's a 122.9 km ride I did on Friday, April 25, 2014.

The squadra on the road going toward Greve from Tavernuzze.

The squadra together for the last time today in Panzano.
After Panzano, only 6 of us continued, then only 3 continued
to Radda with the other 3 going directly to Castellina.

A beautiful view on a beautiful day climb toward 
Radda in Chianti from Lucarelli.

Chris and Leonardo opposite the great fountain in the little
town just before San Donato in Collina on the descent 
from Castellina in Chianti.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Great ride with Chris Breckon on his return here from home in England.

I was able to hook up with Chris Breckon, a cyclist from England who spent 6 months here last spring / summer, and is a member of our team.  We rode quite a bit together last summer, so it was really fun to see him again and to ride.  We met close to my apartment, and Chris wanted to ride sette ponte to Regello, and was happy to take my favorite route out to the sette ponte road.  We had a great ride with a couple of nice stops for cafe machiato and pastries or pizza for me.  It is one of my favorite rides, and although I certainly did not think we pushed it at all, we had a pretty fast time.  The weather was absolutely perfect, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures from 65 to 75 F.  Tuscany in the spring is quite scenic, and today it was at it's best.  Flowers in bloom, trees and vines bursting with spring green color, and wonderful views.

Chris is back in England since mid September, and he was very happy to be back riding in Tuscany.  This was his 4th ride since returning, and I am glad we could get together.  We are meeting again on Friday with a number of folks from the team for a classic ride in Chianti.  I am looking forward to our next ride.  Today's ride was excellent, one of my favorites and one of Chris' as well.  Great ride today Chris, and I can't wait till Friday.  Tomorrow is a needed day off the bike.  Ciao.

Check out Tour with Chris - San Donato, Cellai, Castelfranco, Regello, Tosi, Pelago, Firenze on! It's a 105.5 km ride I did on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Chris Breckon on the strada sette ponte on his return
to Florence for a week of riding.  Good to ride together
again, Chris.

A beautiful stretch of the strada sette ponte.
(the road of seven bridges)

Another shot of the fun road, sette ponte.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sweet recovery ride - I love spring!

I was feeling surprisingly good this morning, but wanted to do an easy ride as I was pretty sure that would be best for my body.  I did a fairly flat ride and tried to keep the pace under control.  Sometimes the pace just creeps up on you anyway.  I rode out through the Cascine, then out to Signa, over to Lastra a Signa, then up and over the pass to Ginestra.  From Ginestra, I rode up the valley to Cerbia, then up to Chiesa Nuova, continuing down along the ridge and taking the descent into Scandicci.  From Scandicci it is a straight forward crank home in city traffic, which in it's own way is kind of fun and exciting.  I pretty much always feel better after a ride, and today is no exception.  Ciao.

Check out Recovery ride - Signa, Ginestra, Chiesa Nuova, Firenze on! It's a 54.7 km ride I did on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

A pretty valley just after the little pass between Lastra 
a Signa and Ginestra.

Spring green on the new leaves on the vines above 
Ginestra Fiorentina.

A pretty section of road in the valley between Ginestra and Cerbia.

A villa on the fast road between Chiesa Nuova and the
turn off for Scandicci.

Great long day with Brian and Sarah - day 2 with lots of climbing.

Yesterday, I had a nice day of guiding two Australians on a pretty big tour in the Gaiole area.  We went out Saturday, but it was pretty much pouring rain, and we just rode hard with our heads down for a couple of hours.  I was concerned the weather was not going to cooperate again, as the forecast was for 40% chance of showers, but we had nice weather the whole ride.  Not clear skies, but a nice temperature and no precipitation the whole ride.  We left the Badia Coltibuono, where they were staying and descended around 20 k through Montevarchi toward the highway.  We had to pass through the town and another town, both of which are not overly pretty before a short climb to Loro Ciufienno where we caught the start of the strada Sette Ponte.

I think this is one of the nicest roads to ride in the area, and today did not dissapoint.  I have only ridden the road from Loro Ciuffeno once before, but I had scouted the access when I drove back on Saturday. A great ride over to Regello, then a nice stop for cafe and pastries.  Brian is into coffee, and had a cappucino, then a machiato.  We all ended up with double shots and were ready to roll.  I explained we had a couple of options to get to Figline, and they choose the shortest option.  We rolled into Figline on a different route than my normal one, and I only took one wrong turn, which was easily fixed.  We hooked up with the climb to Passo de Sugame, and powered up the climb.  My plan was to turn off around 3/4 the way up and ride through Lucolena, but they rode that yesterday, so we continued up to the top of the pass, then descended to Greve.  A big market was going on in Greve and it was packed.  We took off for the climb to Panzano, and worked it pretty hard.

Gelato at the top in Panzano, along with another espresso for Brian.  We descended to the valley below, and after some discussion I directed us up the road to Castellina.  This is a good, relatively long climb, and we were all starting to feel the effort.  They rode quite quickly the whole day, and I am not sure I could have dropped them if I tried.  I think so on the climbs, but that would be mostly because I know the climbs which gives one an advantage.  We were all very compatible with our fitness and speed, so it worked well.  From the ridge road close to Castellina, we turned toward Radda and cruised / climbed / descended almost to Radda.  They wanted to ride to a town called Lechi, which they had ridden the other way yesterday.  We easily found the road, and Brian led us as he remembered the road well.

We had a very nice descent then a pretty steep climb to the town of Lechi.  It is a beautiful little town, with stone buildings and we stopped for a short picture break.  A person who runs a cycling tour company out of the town saw us and came out with sandwiches and shot blocks, as his group was done for the day and he had extras.  It is also probably a good way to market.  It turns out Brian is on his mailing list, and we all talked a little and enjoyed the sandwiches.  It is a high end tour operation, but looks quite nice.  Two Mercedes sedans with racks as the support vehicles and the owner said on some trips they have two support people for each rider with massages at the end of each ride.  Wow!  As we left, Brian explained the owner is a former professional racer - pretty cool.  From Lechi we descended to Gaiole, then had a climb of around 400 vertical meters back to the Badia.  We were all tired, and around 1/2 way up the climb, I decided not to wait and ride with the slowest person, which was Brian on this climb and just take my own pace to the top.

For the first time in 2 days of riding, I actually dropped them.  Sarah was only a couple of minutes behind at the turn off to the Badia where I waited, but Brian was around 10 minutes behind.  It was a long day, and the sandwich in Lechi did not agree with Brian.  Only around 1/2 kilometer of climbing and we were back at the Badia.  We were all quite tired, with around 130 kilometers of riding in with over 2000 meters of climbing.  I still had to change, drive back to Firenze, park Kate's car and get the keys to her, so my day was not over.  I splashed some water on myself and changed, then said goodbye.  Neither client had the energy to get up from their chairs, which is the way I felt as well.  They were really fun to ride with and very good strong riders.  I enjoyed taking them out, but have decided if this situation comes up in the future, I need to charge more to make up for all the logistics of getting out there and back, getting a car, etc.  I think it added 3 to 4 hours to each of my days, so that is reasonable.  We ended up with 127 kilometers ridden with around 6800 vertical feet climbed.  Excellent day!

There were Irises between the rows of olive trees on strada
Sette Ponte between Loro Ciufenna and Castelfranco.

My clients, Brian and Sarah taking pictures of the flowers.

Brian taking a photo in a different hillside olive grove.

They did not want to stand still for a photo, so I took this
picture on the climb toward Castellina, only 2 climbs left
after completing this one.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sweet solo Easter ride into the Mugello

Happy Easter!  This morning Emily and I went into the centro to witness the big celebration for Easter at the Duomo.  Emily has seen this a few times before, but it was my first and probably last time.  It was really neat, but the whole piazza was completely full of people.  We had a pretty good spot to watch, but that meant being totally hemmed in with people touching you from all sides.  This is not my most comfortable situation, but I hung in there with little problem. After the fireworks had finished and the parade to leave the square started, I tried to leave the square.  Not an easy thing to do, and I had to change direction a few times.  People still everywhere, and I was certainly not comfortable in this situation.  I only had about 5 minutes when I really wanted out, and eventually got out.  

After getting home, I quickly suited up to get out for a ride.  The weather was pretty perfect, and I decided to go into the Mugello, on a ride I had not done in a while.  I climbed Via Bolognese to Pratolino then turned off to climb toward Monte Senario.  I turned left to take the tiny road through Casellina and Villiano to the west side of Bivigliano, then totally enjoyed the dry road descent to Vaglia.  A crank from Vaglia to Scarperia, then a very nice road up and down and up and down through San Agata to Galliano.  A left after Galliano, to the road to Frati Ai Bosco.  This is a great road and I really enjoyed it today.  A little water break in San Piero a Sieve, then over to Borgo San Lorenzo, then up the climb to Croce alle Vetta.  A great climb, but my energy level was not at peak performance today.  I still got up there pretty fast and enjoyed it.  The descent from Olmo though Caldine and Pian de Mugnone takes me back to Firenze and home. After many rides with clients and friends, it was nice to be out on a solo ride.  

Check out Via Bolognese, Pratolino, Bivigliano, Vaglia, San Agata, Galliano, Borgo San Lorenzo, Croce alle Vetta, Firenze on! It's a 81.1 km ride I did on Sunday, April 20, 2014.

The beautiful road above Pratolino.

A view toward Passo Giogo from the approach to San Agata.

A pretty, apparently abandoned farm building just below

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fast ride in the rain with strong clients, Brian and Sarah from Australia.

I was up really early this morning and left Florence around 7 to meet client's from Australia in Gaiole in Chianti for a tour.  I had talked with Brian the night before to confirm, and he said they had rain gear, as rain was in the forecast.  Well, the forecast was correct, and it started raining in Florence just before 7, and was pouring in Gaiole upon my arrival.  Brian called around 15 minutes before I arrived to say that perhaps they would not want to do the tour today, but would pay me anyway, as I drove there and reserved the day for them.  I told him we could talk upon my arrival, and we could see what we wanted to do.  They are staying at a Badia outside of Gaiole called Coltibuono, and it is really beautiful, even in the rain.  

We met, and sat down to look at maps and I offered some options.  Sarah, who was the other client was suited up and pretty much ready to go regardless.  I suggested we do a shorter tour, as perhaps 4 plus hours in a steady rain, which sometimes was a downpour, would be a little foolish.  I have a good rain kit, and can go with whatever the weather presents, but common sense is always good to use.  We agreed on a shorter tour, and I thought it would be around 1-1/2 hours, but it ended up being a little over 2 hours.  They were both very strong riders, and Sarah races most weekends in I think Cat 2 races.  Not bad for a 58 year old woman.  I normally gradually increase my pace and see when I drop clients to adjust my pace for them, but I never dropped these two today.  They were both strong, and I am not sure I could have dropped them if I tried.  

We basically rode what for me was close to race pace for a couple of hours.   We all kept our speed in check on the descents with wet, slippery roads, but pushed it pretty hard up the hills.  I offered a few stops, but they wanted to keep moving so as not to let the cold set in, which made sense to me.  We rode from the Badia up, then down, then up to Radda, then continued up almost to Castellina.  We turned off to descend to the valley below Panzano before Castellina, then climbed to the turn off for Lucarelli and Radda.  Good descent to Lucarelli, then a fast, very gradual climb to Radda.  From the junction before Radda, we climbed and descended, and climbed back to the Badia.  Overall, a nice ride in difficult conditions.  I am glad they decided to go out, as I feel it is reasonable to get paid in this circumstance regardless, but am happier to have taken them out.  For what we did and the conditions presented they were perfect clients.  No complaints, fast, and very competent cyclists.  Good ride guys.  We have another day planned for Monday, and the weather is forecast to be much better, but we still have a chance for showers.  We shall see Monday.  Happy Easter (Buona Pasqua) to all.  

Check out Gaiole, Castellina, toward Panzano, Radda, Gaiole - Brian and Sarah on! It's a 45.2 km ride I did on Saturday, April 19, 2014.

This is Sarah just above Radda on our ride today.  Not much of 
a day for pictures, as it was pretty much pouring rain the 
entire ride, along with a fair amount of wind.

Brian on the same stretch as Sarah, and you can see the 
rain and water on his coat.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

FBB Chianti tour with Alex, Nick, and Luca.

I did a Florence by Bike Chianti tour today with a couple of young clients from the US and Luca for his final training ride.  The weather was cool, but spectacular.  The lunch and tour of the villa at Monteoriolo is just superb.  Eleonora is such a gracious hostess and the views, location, the billa itself, and the food is pretty amazing.  It makes this tour a hit with the clients.  I like to think the riding and guide has something to do with it as well.  Both Chianti tours I have taken for Florence by Bike ended up with the clients saying it was the highlite of their trip to Europe.  Nice praise, and fun to share an experience like that.  It is a pretty short tour from Florence to Poggio Imperiale, Galuzzo (cafe and pastry break), Mezzomonte, then Monteoriolo.  We returned through Vacciano and Cinque Vie, then through the Centro in Florence to the bike shop.  In town, we heard someone call Mark, and stopped.  A member of the team, a beautiful woman ran over and hugged me and did the cheek kiss thing, then ran off.  It was a hit with the young brother who were the clients for the day.  I just said, hey guys, it is part of living in Italy.  Il bella vita!

Check out Florence by Bike Chianti tour with two great clients. on! It's a 42.1 km ride I did on Thursday, April 17, 2014.
Nick climbing just above Mezzomonte.

Alex and Luca on the climb to Monteoriolo.

A view to the Northwest from the Villa Monteoriolo.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nice long ride with Don and Kay on day 5

A good, fun day with Don and Kay today.  Long - ish ride of around 110 k, with the climb to Pinone, through Carmignano, then the descent through Vitolini to Montelupo.  From Montelupo, we rode over through Samontanna and Villanuova to the road to Ortiminio and Montespertoli.  From Montespertoli, we rode home through Montagnana, Cerbia, Chiesa Nuova, then Cinque Vie to Firenze.  I am a little too busy, so sorry for the short post, but the pictures are good, and as more time comes up, the posts will increase again.  

Check out Signa, Pinone, Vitolini, Samontanna, Montespertoli, Chiesa Nuova, Firenze - D&K #5 on! It's a 110.3 km ride I did on Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

A view of the Ombrone river valley on the way to Comeana.

Action photo of Don behind me.  I never know how the 
pictures taken behind me, over my head are going to 
turn out.  We call him "Red Man", which is 
Torrio's name for Don because he was wearing a red shirt.

On the way up to Pinone, you could see forever back to Firenze.
If you look hard, you  can see the Duomo in the distance.

A view to the Southeast on the ridge climbing to Montespertoli.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 4 with Don and Kay - Mugello and Diacetto.

Great ride today with Don and Kay.  Love having them here, as they are super enthusiastic about the riding and are good riders.  We did a harder day today, as Don miraculously recovered from Sunday's crash.  We rode over through LeCure the up my favorite back way to San Domenico.  Continuing up to the turn off toward Maiano, then down to the start of the Vincigliata climb.  Loved the Vincigliata climb, although the steepness surprised Kay a little,  It is pretty steep in places and the first 2/3 of the climb probably averages around 10%.  I guess I am just a little sick to think that is not that steep.  We then went up the road above Fiesole to the Monteloro turn off, and descended a little way to a back road that takes you over to the descent from Alberaccio to Sieci.  One of Kay's favorite roads here I found out today.

We descended a little more then turned off to contour up and down through Santa Brigida, Fornello, and Doccia to the windmill.  Such a sweet, beautiful road, and we had been battling a head wind all day, and it finally at least turned to a side wind here.  Water in Santa Brigida, then after the windmill, down to Rufina.  We stopped at a bar I know and like (Thanks, Leif for the recommendation), and had excellent cafe and pastries.  Don and Kay have cappuccino, which here they are a little dissaproving if it is had after 12:00 noon.  Don and Kay don't care and enjoy the cappuccino anyway.

Back on the road for the climb to Diacetto, one of my favorites.  We stopped at one of my favorite water sources, and a couple of locals were hanging out giving information, telling us how good the water was, when the wind would stop, and just holding out wisdom, as the old guys here tend to do.  We finished the climb, then rode down and over to Pelago, and finished the descent to Pontasieve.  From there, we hung together pretty well, with both Don and I keeping the speed in check so we could use the group to make it home well.  We stopped at a favorite gelateria in Firenze, and then we were home.  Great day!

This should get you to the Strava information for today's ride.  This morning, I tried to take a suggestion from garmin and start using "modern", and basically, it does not want to do anything now.  I hope the strava link works.  I will try it when this post is complete.

Check out Vincigliata, Santa Brigida, Rufina, Diacetto, Pelago, Pontasieve, Firenze D &K #4 on! It's a 81.5 km ride I did on Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

Don and Kay riding along a wall on the road to
Fiesole, just before our turn to descend to the 
start of the Vincigliata climb.

Don and Kay above Fiesole riding along a pergola
of blooming wisteria.  Che bella!

Don on a set up shot with the irises on the way to Diacetto.
I have to wait longer to get the subject larger in the photos.

Don and Kay, along with a couple of the local old guys at 
the water source, around 1/2 way from Rufina to Diacetto.

The skies cleared and with the wind, it was pretty crystal clear.
This is from the top of our last real climb, just outside of Diacetto.

Three days of rides with Don and Kay, including our FBB raduno.

Sorry, blog readers.  I have been super busy, so I have three rides here.  We have friends visiting, who are great riders, so we have been riding every day.  Add to that other friends who are leaving today who we needed to have a couple of meals with, a very sad funeral of the father in law of Kate's brother in law, and a benefit that Kate put together for a great organization that funds art restoration, and you have my excuse.  Anyway, if you want the ride details, please check out the garmin links.  I will do some thoughts and highlights here rather than summarizing the rides.

We had spectacular weather all three days, which is nice.  It is great to be riding with Don and Kay here, as we have ridden here together many times in the past and they truly love the riding.  Don is kind of my cycling mentor, and it is great to be out with him.  I love their enthusiasm.

Our team, Florence by Bike, ASD Veloclub, hosted our raduno on Sunday.  I met Davide at the Pontasieve rotundo and pointed directions for the short versus the long course.  Don and Kay met me at the rotundo, and we all waited until we thought the last of the participants came by.  I told Davide to go ahead, as we would be a fair amount slower and he could easily catch some of the slower people on the long course.  It was a super fun course, and we had a record number of participants at 248.  Excellent job, squadra and our sponsors.  The food and set up at the end was truly great, although by the time I got there it was being packed up.  They did  get some food out for me.  Don and I left Kay to do the last part of the raduno course, the climb to Fiesole, doing the World Championship Course.  On the way down to Pian de Mugnone, there is a steep downhill with a 90 degree turn at the bottom.  Don was really going fast and it was all I could do to keep him in sight.  He is a former pro.  He was only a couple of seconds ahead of me, but by the time I got to the corner, I saw his bike on the guardrail, and Don on his back on the other side of the guardrail with one leg in the air.  I thought, oh no, real trouble. Don is a great athlete, and he was pretty scratched up and sore, but was basically ok.  An older man had backed out from a hidden driveway at the corner and even with Don yelling, he kept on backing, forcing Don to lock the brakes  up which caused the crash.  Yikes!  At least he is alright.  I dropped Don at the apartment, got him upstairs, then went to the end of event gathering.

Yesterday, I designed a ride for us that I thought would be pretty easy and we could go a pace to let Don's aching body recover.  It  worked!  He felt better and better as we rode.  We also needed to be back to help with Kate's benefit Easter Egg hunt for Florentine children.  The only stress on yesterday's ride was getting back in time to get everything done.  Kay and Emily split time as the Easter Bunny, I picked up Viola at school early and got her to the gathering, and Don and I helped with the clean up.  Pizza after everything, and the end of a number of good, but exhausting days in a row.  I will try to keep up now.  Ciao.  (The  pictures are only from the last day's ride, but they are pretty representative)  My facebook page and company facebook page has pictures from each day.  Ciao.

Signa, Ginestra, Montagnana, Chiesa Nuova, Firenze D&K #3 by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

FBB Raduno - Tosi, Fiesole, Firenze - Don and Kay #2 by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Don and Kay - Carota, Bombone, Monteloro, Fiesole, Pian de Mugnone, Fi. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Ginestra in a field looking toward Montelupo from the little pass
above Ginestra.

Kay with the vines in the background, just as they
are showing the spring green.  What a beautiful day.

A villa framed by vines looking south from around

A beautiful villa with Irises lining the drive at the top of
the hill above the Galluzzo descent.