Friday, October 31, 2014

Great fall ride on another perfect day.

I had a great ride early this afternoon after a morning of errands and changing the closet out for winter clothing versus summer.  My winter clothing is really more appropriate for the current weather, so it was time for the change.  Love today's ride, and the weather was perfect.  On the climb to Monteloro, I heard a couple of guys almost right when I started my climb from Le Falle.  They did not catch me until around 1/2 the way up, then one dropped his friend and I and we pedaled together, pretty competitively until around 1 kilometer from Monteloro, when I dropped him.  I know it's ego, but it felt pretty good.  I am continuing my format changes, as it has been pointed out to me that sharing the garmin link gives away my routes.  I have mixed feelings about not posting this, as the business is mostly to share my passion for the riding here.  But, it is a business and Emily and I need the small amount of money I make from it.  So, I will try not sharing the garmin link.  Here is the ride summary information, though.  42.0 miles in 2:51 rolling time for an average speed of 14.7 mph with 3734 vertical feet climbed.  Total kilometers for the year at 16,906, leaving 3.094 km to get to 20,000.  So, two months with a little over 1500 k will do it.  I should make it.

Emily and I are going to our favorite pizza place in Florence tonight, La Bussola, and I will give the pizza I have yet to order my daily taste treat.  I am thinking a prosciutto crudo pizza.  Ymmmmmm.  Italian for the day - prosciutto (ham) crudo (raw or smoked or salted) Here it is mostly salted and smoked, and it is really good!

Ciao a tutti!

I love the fall colors and the perspective forced on your mind
with the rows of the vineyards fading away.  Che bella!

A few of the vines and a couple of villas in the background
on another perfect day for riding in the Tuscan countryside.

Beautiful road and the tree frames the view on the way to Bombone.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Recovery ride on a perfect weather day.

I probably should have taken a day off today, but as you can see from the pictures below, the weather was just so nice, I could not resist.  It is predicted to be the same for the next 3 days.  I did however, manage to do a real recovery ride with very little climbing and I kept the energy level under control.  What a day to get out in the country.

Today's taste treat was a slice of pizza from one of the best bakeries in town called Pugi, in piazza San Marco.  I was on my way home after buying a new bluetooth speaker so I can listen to music at home with some fidelity.  It is my treat for a reasonably successful season guiding.  I like my local bakery much better for many things, but for a slice and some other things like grassini, I think it is the best.  Hey there is the Italian phrase of the day as well, grassini is plural for breadstick, which they make at Pugi in a twisted shape with pastry that flakes off and you can taste the butter it is made with.  Hmmm, after writing that, I feel like going over there for some grassini.  Ciao for now.  Here is the garmin link:

Recovery ride - Montelupo, Cerbia, Chiesanuova, Scandicci by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A beautiful old building turned into a hotel with some
new buildings attached.  It must be a de-consecrated church.

The valley between Montelupo and Cerbia.

Fall colors on the climb to Chiesanuova.

I stopped to get my vest back out for the finish of the ride into
Scandicci, then Firenze.  This beautiful view was there, so 
I pulled out the camera.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Two big passes and one great ride!

I ended up doing the ride I had planned today, but after yesterday's ride, I was feeling a little tired and was doubting my energy level for today's ride.  I am getting pretty focused on a couple of things, and will be trying to get kilometers in for both.  First, it appears I should be able to do 20,000 kilometers on Strava this year which will be an accomplishment for me.  After today's ride, only 3,225 remaining in a little over two months, so it should be doable at my normal riding rate.  However, the weather could make it more difficult at any time, so I am trying to get kilometers in when I can.  I am also thinking I can get 1,000,000 vertical feet climbed this year, which would also be sweet to me.  A long time ago, a Canadian (German / Swiss) mountain guide told me he put in 1,000,000 vertical feet per year and I thought, wow.  So, maybe I can get that in as well.

Second, I have decided to do a number of challenging events next year.  I am figuring that I am getting older and who knows how many years I will have either the desire or fitness to do these things.  They will all be challenges for me.  First, I am already signed up for the granfondo Firenze, a race that is 150 kilometers with 2850 meters of climbing on a challenging course.  Luca has challenged me to see if we can both do it under 5 hours.  I just signed up with the team to do the long course of the granfondo Nove Colli, or 9 hills.  The long course is 200 kilometers with over 4000 meters of climbing.  Again, quite a challenge for me.  I have pre-registered for the Maratona de Dolomities, but it is a lottery to get in, so I don't know if it will work.  I have not been selected the last two years, and I think that helps as well.  If I do get in, the course is 135 kilometers with 4200 meters of climbing with 7 passes.  Again, a real challenge for me.  Last, Luca is talking up the long course for the Eroica, which I will need a vintage (pre 1987) bike for.  He did the 205 kilometer course in late September and loved the day, although he said it was super hard and he was on course for 11 hours.

So, now you know why I may be even more obsessed than usual, which is saying something.  No taste treat or phrase today, I just rode hard.  Here is the garmin link for today's ride.

Pontasive, Croce ai Mori, Stia, Consuma, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The climb to Croce ai Mori from Contea is long with around 800 
vertical meters of climbing in 18 kilometers.  So, it is gradual
and as you can see below, quite pretty.  Today was only the 
second time I have ridden it in this direction.

A view back to the west on a clear day around 1/3 the way up
to Croce ai Mori.

Sign and bike at Valico Croce ai Mori, which I am pretty
sure means cross of death.  Who know's the history of 
this pass.  The headwaters of the Arno are around 4 kilometers
down the other side.  A tiny stream there.

A view through the trees to the Southwest from 
Croce ai Mori.

After an excellent cafe and pastry in the town of Stia,
which is shown here, I started the climb of around 
700 vertical meters to Passo della Consuma.

A view of the landscape to the East while climbing 
to the Passo della Consuma.

The bike and sign at Passo della Consuma.  The sign is covered
with stickers, which I have come to like.  It does say 
Passo della Consuma under all that.

A view of the hills to the Southwest from the top of the Pass.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My version of the Giro de Mugello on a cool Autumn day.

For now, I am enjoying the solo rides.  I was a busy boy for most of October, but 4 months of time off seem to be starting now.  If any tours come up, of course I will say yes, but from experience, that is unlikely this time of year.  Great tour into the Mugello today.  I had wanted to take my last couple of multi-day groups on this tour, but it just did not work out.  I really enjoyed though.  Taste treat has to be the cafe machiato and brioche alla ciocolatta at the tiny bar in Sant Agata.  It is a favorite spot and the two young owners always seem happy to see me and are very welcoming.  Highly recommended stop.  Italian phrase of the day - buonissimo or really good, which is what the brioche and cafe tasted on a pretty cold ride, as autumn sets in here.  Here is the garmin link for the ride:

Giro de Mugello - Sant Agata, Galliano, Bosco ai Frati by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Looking toward Scarperia at the beginning of the climb toward
Sant Agata.

Looking back at Sant Agata on the way to Galliano.
I love the little town and the bar / cafe there.

One of my favorite roads in Tuscany from Bosco ai Frati
back toward San Piero a Sieve.  My friend Don Cook calls
it the "401 of road biking".  Couldn't agree more.

Different exposure of the same spot on the way to 
San Piero a Sieve.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Solo ride to Montesenario on a cool day.

My first solo ride in a couple of weeks, and it was quite nice.  I am not sure why, but climbing Montesenario popped into my mind while putting up more shelves in the storage closet that Emily wanted to put up.  Our storage is quite limited, so it was a good idea.  After getting the shelves complete, I suited up and was out the door around 1 pm.  The temperatures have turned seasonal, which is nice, but also, the time for short sleeved jerseys may be over.  I did short sleeves today, but had arm warmers that I never even thought about rolling down or taking off.  The climb felt really nice today, and it is a pretty constant climb from the apartment on the route I took.  The first part stays relatively gentle, but then it kicks up to around 7% above Caldine, and stays pretty steady at that grade to the turn off for the Montesenario road.  It quickly goes to 10 to 15%, but does not stay there long.  It was really quite cool on top with temperatures around 55 and a wind around 20 mph.  I just got a new Goretex windstopper vest, which is a great garment, and it is perfect for the weather right now.  On the descent, it warmed up around 2/3 the way down and felt pretty good in Firenze.  Great, fun ride today.

A couple of taste treats - last night Emily made an excellent carbonara with pancetta and mushrooms. I love this recipe.  At Montesenario there is a fountain, and the water is simply great.  I give that my second taste treat of the day.  I am enjoying the remainder of the water from that fountain as I write this.  Italian phrase of the day - fontana de aqua - water fountain.  A very useful phrase, as most towns have good water at a public fountain, and if you ask - Dov e la fontana de aqua - most villagers will direct you to the water.  No need to carry more than one bottle.

Here is the garmin link:

Montesenario solo - cold up there. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The views were wonderful on the climb to Montesenario, so 
I managed a couple of pictures while climbing. This is to the West.

The ride's objective on the hill ahead, the sanctuary at Montesenario,
a still active monastery, and a great climb on a bike.

Almost there, the sanctuary is just ahead.

Rows of hills, which describes the landscape here in the 
distance with the bike and cross in the foreground.
My idea of an artistic photo.

Another picture of the hills and valleys from Montesenario,
a slightly different location for the picture.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Great Sunday ride con squadra.

Quite and excellent ride with the team this morning.  I was unsure what kind of turn out we would have, as the time "fell back" last night.  I thought some would show up on the old time zone.  Luca Lacalmita had texted me to get me to join him on the ride, and I said I would be there.  We had 18 present and we all rode together to Montespertoli, where we stopped for a while.  As it was all in Italian, I got most of what was going on - one of the team had a friend there, but he was not home.  A phone call ensued, then we all waited for him, but he did not want to serve cafe to 18 - imagine that.  We ended up finding a bar open, had a cafe there, then started back out.  During the stop, many route discussions were had, and 6 of us decided on a longer route, which was really great.  Sorry, no map today, as for some reason the Garmin lost the day while connecting to the computer the first time.  It may have been operator error, as it said working, I was impatient, disconnected it, the reconnected it. Alas, the activity was gone.  I entered it manually, as I am setting a goal of 20,000 kilometers for the year, which seems reachable.  I don't want to loose the 100 k we rode today though.

When we stopped in Fiano, after the day's hardest climb, we had a little time to wait for some of the group.  Luca got some bread that was awesome - no yeast used, but really tasty with grains, nuts, and carrots.  It was definitely the taste treat of the day.  Italian phrase of the day - Un grande gruppo or "one large group", which was the description of the group at Illiopesca at 8:15.  The manually entered information is at the garmin link below.  Ciao.

Sunday con squadra - Ginestra, Certaldo, Fiano, Tavernelle, Fi by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

For some reason at the start of the ride, I was leading.  I tried
a couple of over the head / behind me pictures, and this 
one is the best.  I did not get most of the 18 riding this morning.

In the process of dropping back for a picture of the whole
squadra this morning.  Most are here.

After dropping back to be the last, I got this shot of the large 
group this morning.  What a beautiful day!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Art's last day - Pinone, Montagnana, La Ripa, Firenze.

A few culinary delights today.  We stopped at the bar in Pinone and the crostata was wonderful.  I had one with frutti di bosco.  The chef up there is great with pastries.  After the return to town, we stopped at a bakery close to where Art was staying just south of Piazza Santa Spirito.  He had a slice there yesterday and loved it.  Today, we each had a slice and shared two excellent pizzas, very different as well.  Art treated us to a dinner on his last night at Cafe Giovanni, also close to Santa Spirito.  I really think the veal loin that Art had was the best, but with a 2009 Brunello di Montalcino, Chingiale on Polenta, a filet in a creamy pepper sauce, and pear / chocolate tort, the list is long for what was great.  Good restaurant, I highly recommend.  Emily and I had been there for lunch a number of times, but this was our first dinner there.

Italian phrases / words?  Crostata (kind of a pie like pastry) frutti di bosco (fruits of the woods - berries of many different kinds, always fresh).

Today was Arts last day riding with me and he was great to ride with and I really appreciate the business.  I had done business with Art in my former life and we were acquaintances through Richard Melnick, who left Friday morning.  Art and his wife, Mindy and another couple were among my first clients in my first cycling season here, and I really appreciate both the faith he had in me the first trip and the fact that he returned two years later for a "guys" trip.  Hope to see him again here in two more years.  I love the new friendship that is blossoming as we spend more time together.  Thanks for "Riding with Cosimo".

Ciao,  Here is the garmin link for the ride.

Last day with Art - Pinone, Montelupo, Montagnana, La Ripa, Firenze by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Art is enjoying the incredible views from the road
to Pinone, above Carmignano.

Here, Art is finishing the hard part of the climb to the ridge
that leads to Montagnana.

Art, really enjoying our last day out in pretty perfect conditions.

The sky was so clear and the landscape so beautiful, I had
to take a picture on a break on the way up to Chiesa Nuova.

Last ride with Richard and Art together.

Really great ride today.  I pushed Art a little to go a bit farther up to Diacetto and everyone was happy with the decision.  We had excellent panini and Art had ravioli at a bar in Rufina that is my new favorite there.  The guys at the bar are super friendly, and the food and cafe is great.  I think the taste treat of the day would be the eggplant parmesan that Emily made for dinner.  I am so lucky to live with and love such an excellent cook.

Italian phrases - Melanzane parmesano (Eggplant Parmesan) and Buonissimo (really, really good)

Today was the last day with Richard, as he left on Friday morning early.  Another day with Art Friday and he leaves on Saturday.  Richard is a very close friend from CB, and it was great to have him here and ride together.


Santa Brigida, Rufina, Diacetto, Pelago with Art and Richard by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A classic Chianti photo on the way into Doccia of 
Chianti Rufina.

On the way out of Santa Brigida looking back at the 
farmhouse Emily and I lived in three years ago 
when we first came here.

Richard and Art at a location that I think is super pretty, 
on the ride from Doccia to the windmill.

Art ready to tie into a big meal in Rufina.  Buonissimo!

Art on the way to Diacetto.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 3 with Art and Richard - a creative route in Chianti.

A couple of Culinary moments since the last blog.  The night after my last post, we all went to an amazing event at Pallazzo Gondi, a perfectly restored palazzo in the center of the old city with amazing terraces.  5 wine tastings in different rooms from the Gondi family vineyards, all excellent.  Afterwards, we went to Kate and Nicco's for dinner and the ribbolitta in particular was wonderful.  It is a kind of room temperature "soup" with bread, tuscan beans, and other things, in particular excellent olive oil.  On our ride today, we stopped a couple of times, once at my favorite spot in San Polo, where excellent cafe machiato and cappuccino were consumed.  Second stop for sustenance was in Strada, where we tried a cafe I had not been to before.  Strada is close to home and I simply don't stop there.  The panini were wonderful.

For the Italian phrase of the day, I will simply quote Art after his first bite of the panini.  "Molto better"  Which was really about how he felt.  A creative use of both Italian and English with his Philly accent showing through, even after 40 years in Colorado.  Next time I will try to get him to say, molto maglio.   Ciao.

Creative Chianti ride with Art and Richard - no repeat routes by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Art, sporting an Italian kit - looking sharp - and 
Richard at the start where we picked up Art.

What can I say - boys will be boys - Art for pointing,
and me for taking the picture.  Beautiful spot though.

Art, rockin' the kit above Cappanuccia.

Art climbing from San Polo to Poggio alla Croce.

Richard on the climb to Poggio alla Croce.

Another beautiful villa in the Tuscan countryside between 
Brollo and Ponte alle Stogli.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 2 with Richard and Art - daily Culinary delight and Italian phrase.

With Art and Richard staying with us, at least for one more day, and Emily chiming in about the blog, I have decided to take some advice and try something a little different.  I know there are blog readers out there and please comment on the changes if you like the prior format better.  Basically, the consensus is that the daily description of the route is getting at least a little dry at this point, and I should try to shoot for perhaps a daily "Culinary delight" along with a daily Italian phrase related to cycling, so here we go.

Culinary delight of the day:  Today, definitely the sandwich (panini in Italian, which could also double as today's Italian word (parole), and you definitely want to be able to order a panini at any bar / cafe in the countryside.  I ordered the panini for Art, and he had asked  for a sandwich with some ham or whatever on a croissant, which I tried to order.  The husband and wife behind the counter told me basically that you should not mix sweets (dolce) which a croissant was to them with ham, then they asked if schiaciatta would be ok (va bene).  The husband also suggested stracchino, a soft cheese, to which I responded yes.  The sandwich was served warm, and a little large for Art alone, so Richard and I had to help a little.  From my point of view, it was an awesome panini.  Great spot in Bivigliano and I will keep it in mind for the future.

Anyone who wants the ride details can check the following garmin link:

Day 2 with Richard and Art - into the Mugello by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Posed just below Castello Vincigliata.

Art in the mist on the way toward cafe "Renault"

Art and Richard on the way to Bivigliano.

We stopped in Bivigliano for a panini for Art.  It was the first time
I stopped at this spot for food and the panini was great.  
Here, Art is rocking' the panini.  Awesome.

Art and Richard, changing outer layers close to the top of
our last climb of the day.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

First day of 5 or 6 with Art and Richard in the Chianti hills.

My third day out with Richard, but our first day together with Art, who was an acquaintance when I lived in Colorado and is a long time, good friend with Richard.  Art was one of my first clients in the first season when I struggled to get my name and service out there.  So, I guided Art, his wife and another couple in September a couple of years ago.  At that time he was coming off back surgery and a very difficult year with personal items, and was a little slow.  Today, he was at least twice as strong and we all three had a great ride.

I decided to do my standard expandable / contractable Chianti ride, as I was unsure how long Art would want to go and how fit he would be.  He also traveled all day yesterday and was battling jet lag.  We ended up doing 3/4 of the total options and it all worked great.  We had a slow start, but all three of us were on the bikes and on our way out of town by 12:00.  We made our way over toward Grassina, and turned off to climb through Vacciano.  The weather earlier was a little foggy / cloudy, but it really cleared by the time we got going.  Great climb through Vacciano, and just by doing this climb it was apparent to me that Art was much stronger and fitter than the last time we rode.

We continued up through San Gersole to Impruneta where there was a huge market / town fair going on.  Fun, but not conducive for a cafe.  We rode down to the road to Ferrone and quickly turned off to climb through Luiano to the road above Mercatale.  We had our first real decision point here, as I realized that everyone wanted to continue when we were at the start of the Luiano climb.  Art was up for continuing, but wanted some food soon.  We rode down then up to Montefiridolfi, but the bar was closed, which did not really surprise me.  We went along the ridge to Bibbione then down to the valley below, starting the climb to San Casciano, but turning off to go to the bar / alimentary in Ponte Rotto for some really excellent panini.  A favorite stop of mine, I had never had a panini there before, but probably will again.  After our lunch stop, it was a climb to San Casciano, then the descent to Falciani, coming back to Galluzzo on the main road.  We branched off after Galluzzo to come home through Cinque Vie, ending up the day on the Viales to the apartment.  Great ride today, guys, and thanks for "Riding with Cosimo"

Art and Richard - day 1 - Chianti hills by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Art nearing the top of the first climb above Vacciano.

Art on the climb through Luiano with the Chianti hills in the background

Richard didn't want his picture taken much, but I caught him taking 
a picture of Art when we were stopped below Luiano.

Art in the beautiful little valley between Mercatale 
and Montefiridolfi.

One action shot of Richard on the ridge between Montefiridolfi
and Bibbione.

Art riding ahead on the same ridge.  Che bella!