Saturday, January 31, 2015

Trip to Lucca and a nice Saturday late morning ride.

I had enough time today for a real ride, and was out a little over 2 hours, which is my longest ride in a week.  I am used to much more riding, but it is really nice having our son, Ben, visit, and it is worth not being on the bike so much to spend time with him.  I have really gotten used to a fair amount of time in the saddle though, and I do miss it.  Looking at the weather from the apartment, I changed my route choice as my planned direction looked rainy.  The forecast is for more rain this afternoon anyway.  I ended up going out through Ponte a Ema, up Via Carota, through San Donato in Collina, Cellai, Bombone, Rosano, Sieci then home.  I really like this ride and it was nice today.   The ride was 54.1 kilometers in 2:20 for an average of 23.1 kph with 705 meters of climbing.  It seems that it will take me a little time to get back in form with even a couple of weeks of little riding at a slow pace.  I needed to back off, though, so I am believing this will be good for me in the long run.  My first real competitive event is in the middle of April, but after that there are around 4 in 8 weeks.  So, it will be a good time to get it going early next week.

Yesterday, Ben, Emily and I went to Lucca for the day.  This is in front of the Duomo there on a grey and cold day.  We had a very nice time though, and met Kate for lunch.  After lunch, we visited Massimo's house, which was beautiful, and I picked up the bike that Massimo, who is Kate's boss, offered to me and I will use in the Eroica, if I am selected in the lottery.  I have to enter the lottery for a spot soon.  Until a few weeks ago, when the rules changed, I was automatically eligible based on my over 60 age.  They just changed the exemption to over 65, and now I have a bike to use.  It needs a little work, although not too much.  I was totally surprised that everything is working.  I will post another time with pictures, etc. of the Eroica bike, a 1974 Bianchi race bike.  Sweeeeeeeet!

The light struck me as beautiful on the way up Via Carota, so I stopped to take this picture.  
I think it was worth the stop.

 A peak a boo shot through the olive groves to a beautiful villa on the climb up Via Carota.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

5 days of activity in one post, with not much involving cycling.

It has been a while, but I am catching up this afternoon.  With Ben visiting, I am simply not riding much, but enjoying the time together as a family.  Sunday, I got a ride in late afternoon, then this morning before the weather really went bad and we all met for lunch, I got another hour ride in.  As I often say, it simply makes me happy to ride.  I forgot to reset the garmin between rides, so the statistics came in together.  So, 2 shorts rides which together equalled 46 kilometers in 2:06 for an average of 21.9 kph with 1086 meters of climbing.  The pictures show some of the other fun going on this week.  

On Sunday, I met Kate and the kids in the wonderful Boboli gardens,
then Emily and Ben joined us after an hour or so.  Kate and I were spotting
and helping Viola and Vittorio climb this tree in particular.  Fun, and
good climbing, kids.

Monday, Emily, Ben, and I went to Rome for the day.  On the train
before 7am, then a private tour guide for the collaseium, the forum,
and Capitoline hill.  It was supposed to be a group tour, but we were 
the only people, so we lucked out.  Great guide, and fun tour.  I love the
Roman antiquities, even if I cannot seem to spell colloseium correctly.

After lunch, we made our way over to the Vatican, and were able 
to get into Saint Peter's as it was getting dark.  Truly amazing scale
to this church, although a little over the top for me.  This picture was
from when we were leaving to make our way back to the train.
Beautiful structure and perfect light.

After a whole day Tuesday meeting and helping students get settled for a 
semester abroad with a local company who sets this up for many American
Universities, on Wednesday, Kate, Ben, and I spent the day having a hiking
adventure outside of Santa Brigida, where Emily and I lived when we first 
moved here over 3 years ago.  I explored and found a wonderful trail system then,
and although I had only been back a couple times since we moved to the city, I
happily remembered the system well enough to have a great day with Ben and
Kate hiking the area.  The system is centered around "Burraie, which were structures
dug into the ground where people made and stored butter in the early 1900's.
Another fun day and the last, for now, of the beautiful weather.

Kate and Ben at the Santuario Madonna del Sasso.

Kate and Ben in front of my favorite Burraie, the Bacio Burraie.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A couple of rides when time allowed - Ben is visiting!

Ben, our son, arrived Wednesday night, so my posts will be pretty erratic for a couple of weeks.  It is great to have him here, but with lots of activities, the riding will be quite occasional.  I will continue to ride when I can, as it simply makes me happy.  I got out late Thursday after a day of activities with Ben and before dinner.  I did a ride above the house and was hoping to find a trailhead for hiking on the #25 bus line, but it is a few kilometers away from the closest stop, so we will try Santa Brigida next week.  I rode up Via Bolognese then up toward Monte Morello, then back to Pratolino, then returned through the road toward Cercina, but I took the first descent option that is before Cercina.  Really nice to get out, even in clouds and cool weather.  27.3 km in 1:25 for an average of 19.3 kph with 588 meters of climbing.

This morning, Saturday, I decided to ride on my own and not get up for the team ride.  We were out relatively late last night, so I did not want to push it.  I got started a little after 10:30 and had a good route in mind, which I ended up doing.  It involved a number of other routes I often ride, but had never connected them as I did today.  It was around 20 km longer than I thought it would be and had around 400 more kilometers of climbing than anticipated, so I was late getting home.  Oh well.  I really enjoyed the ride and it was simply a perfect day.  One small pass, two bigger passes, and a really wonderful, scenic ride in Chianti.  Add in great dolce (sweet pastries) and excellent cafe machiato in Dudda, and you have a close to perfect day.  I loved it.  101.1 km in 4:26 for an average of 22.8 kph with 1596 meters of climbing.

Looking back to the Northeast from close to the top of the biggest climb between 
Capanuccia and San Polo.  Beautiful sky.

A little of the climb to San Polo remains.  What a beautiful road on a perfect day.

Looking back at the climb between Quarate and San Polo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nice pre-Ben ride before a couple of days off the bike.

Rain predicted for tomorrow, and our son, Ben is expected here tomorrow early evening.  The long and short of it is that I will not be on the bike for a couple of days, so after finishing a couple of required errands this morning, I fit in a nice tour before the afternoon and evening obligations kick in.  I have ridden this a few times in the last couple of months and I really enjoy the tour each time I ride it.  It has the advantage of 24 kilometers or so that is basically flat (50 meters of climbing total) before you start the climb from Seano to Bacheretto.  This is simply a beautiful climb, and the town is quite picturesque.  The bar was closed today, so I delayed my cafe and pastry until Carmignano on the descent.  Above Bacheretto there is some pretty serious climbing, but of the three difficult spots none are very long in duration, although all three seem to hit 20%.  We will call it good training.  An excellent cafe and Bombone a ciocolatto in Carmignano, then back to Firenze through Comeana, Signa, San Doninno, to Porta al Prato.  Great, fun ride.  62.4 kilometers in 2:36 for an average of 24.0 with 470 meters of climbing.

As you approach Bacheretto, you get this view of the church on the hill.  
I stopped for this picture, which did not turn out as well as I would have liked.
It really is quite spectacular in person.

The road just below the town is really quite beautiful.  A sweet ride.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just another great day of riding in Tuscany. Feeling lucky to be here and doing this.

Nice tour today with Randy.  I did not think he had been on most of the ride I tentatively planned, and was correct.  We left riding to Sieci, and the temperatures were quite cool, and since it is a relatively flat road, we rode pretty fast, so it was a bit cold.  Randy did not have as much clothing on as me, but he hung in there.  We climbed from Sieci, and then the temps were just right.  We climbed to the windmill, then rode down to Rufina for an excellent cafe and a really wonderful pastry.  One of the perks of riding here, and riding a lot in general is the amount of great food you can consume guilt free.

After Rufina we did one of my favorite climbs to Diacetto, which Randy loved as well.  My legs were a little tired from yesterday, so when I started to drop Randy, I backed off a gear or two, and my legs then felt pretty good.  Perhaps I should learn something from this about recovery after a big ride.  From Diacetto down to Pelago, then back to the main road and down to Pontasieve.  Back into town on the south side of the Arno, and we took the cut off through Nave a Rovezanno, which surprisingly to me, Randy had ridden.  He said it was one of the ways he had found to leave town.  It took me until less than a year ago to find this road, and then it was with a friend from the team who showed it to me.  Interesting what different people find and when in terms of roads here.  Anyway, fun, nice ride in sunny skies with cool temperatures.  67.9 km in 3:15 for an average of 20.9 kph with 1005 meters climbed.

In Diacetto today, looking South, the light was just right to show the multiple ridges with the
fog in the Arno river valley around Figline.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Checking out the proposed long course for our team's granfondo coming up in late March.

I admit today, I am feeling pretty good about myself and the progress I have made here, at least in the cycling community.  Today, during the ride, a couple people recognized me who were riding with other groups, and came back to say hi and talk with our group.  Lorenzo said I must be a kind of VIP in the cycling community.  I said, I was obviously different, being an Americani, and the tailgater on my bike is something people recognize.  The other thing that has me feeling good is that the granfondo long course we are going to use for the event our team is hosting is the route I suggested.  We rode much of that route today, hopefully finding a good spot for the aid station and control point for the long course.  We had the short and medium courses pretty much set, but had not done the proposed long course until today.

We had a good sized group of 12 or so at the meeting point, and soon after starting, I realized we had changed plans.  We were not doing the granfondo route, until the end when just a couple of us would try the part added on to the medium route for the long course.  We did a great ride and route, though, and I think everyone had a great time.  We ended up riding up past Ugolino to Strada, then up to La Panca, then down through Ponte agli Stolli to the cut off over to Brollo.  We then climbed Poggio alle Croce, then descended to San Polo for a cafe and pastry.  After San Polo, only 5 of us continued on the proposed long route addition, and went back up to Strada, then down to Ferrone, then climbed Luiano.  We lost another 2 here, leaving 3 of us doing the day's long tour, and checking out the remainder of the long route.  It all worked well, and we had another cafe / feeding at Ponte Rotto, then got back through San Pancrazio and Chiesa Nuova.

Lorenzo and I had Cheeseburgers and beer at the neighborhood place upon our return, as he lives only a couple of kilometers away, and this was on his way.  Really great ride today, and pretty much my first long, relatively difficult training ride of the year.  The Granfondo Firenze awaits.  Today's ride was 121.9 kilometers in 5:17 for an average of 23.1 kph with 1914 meters climbed.  Sweet!

A picture of part of the big group of 12 or so at Piazzale Michaelangelo
this morning, ready to start a great tour.

Paola, Stefano, and Lorenzo at the top of the Poggio alle Croce climb.

I know Andrea was right behind me on the climb with only 1/2
a kilometer to go, but somehow, I dropped him in that time, much
to my surprise.  Here he is at the top.

Massimo made the climb and is looking fresh.

Nicola at the top of the climb to Poggio alle Croce

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Giro de Mugello with Adam and Nicola

Nicola, who is here for 8 months, and has been riding with the team, and Adam, her boyfriend who has been visiting for 5 weeks, and I did a nice tour in the Mugello yesterday.  They are both strong riders, and after a small group ride to Montesenario last week, I offered to do a long tour with them.  I was hoping for some of the big passes, but the weather was not cooperating, so we went to plan B.  Plan B was good though, and we all had a great ride.  We did my "Giro de Mugello" using a circuitous route with many of my favorite roads and climbs.  I sometimes take my stronger clients on this ride.  We started by taking a back way to San Domenico, then up to the turn for Maiano, then down to the climb to Vincigliata.  They both really enjoyed this climb, which I also really like.  Everything we did today is certainly not even close to the most direct route, but lots of fun roads.

We rode over to Bivigliano, then enjoyed the super fun, twisty road down to Vaglia.  It had started to sprinkle, so caution was really in order and we enjoyed the descent even at a reduced speed.  From Vaglia, we rode to Scarperia, in probably the hardest rain of the day, which was really only light rain, to the turn for Sant Agata.  A stop of cafe and pastries at my spot there elicited a comment from Nicola, "Now this is the real riding in Italy", which made me feel good.  It is a wonderful up and down cruise over to the main road just past Galliano, then down the main road to the Bosco Ai Frati road, which they both really liked.  Again, this made me happy, as it is one of my favorites, and for much of it, I think, a very special spot.  Back on the main roads, then the climb to Vetta le Croce, then the descent down Via Faentina back to my apartment.  Adam had rented one of my bikes for 10 days, so we settled up, had a couple of beers - Nicola says, "electrolyte replenishment", then I said goodbye to Adam.  I have done around 6 rides with him during his visit, and it has been fun.  Ciao, Adam.

Adam and Nicola on the way to Bivigliano.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Birthdays, Art show, and a ride!

No post on Wednesday, as it was a busy, but rainy day.  Vittorio's birthday, which was super fun.  The party with his friends will be next week, but we had a nice celebration and played with the toys Wednesday night.  I went by the Picasso show at the Strozzi on Wednesday afternoon, and really enjoyed it.  I love that period of art, and Picasso's work in particular.  It was nice going late in the run of the show, as the space was mostly empty, which allow me to wander and check out paintings, etc. at my leisure, rather than in a herd.  I enjoy checking out one period, then returning to another, then back to yet another, which is fine with few people there.

Yesterday was Kate's birthday, and we met for a nice lunch.  I had errands in the morning, then was off immediately to the lunch, which I left a little early, so I could meet Adam for a ride which I had committed to earlier.  We had a nice ride, and I took him on one of my favorite routes that I had not ridden in a while.  We started at 3, and I thought the ride was only 2 hours, but it is actually 2.5 hours, so it was getting dark on our return.  We rode out through Ponte a Ema, then up Via Carota to Osteria Nuova, then up and over San Donato in Collina to the turn at Cellai.  Across (actually up and down) the road over to Bombone, a simply great road to ride, then back in through Rosano then a creative route back to Piazza Santissima Annunciata where Nicola's apartment is.  Good ride.  55.2 km in 2:30 for an average of 22.0 with 677 meters climbed.

Wednesday was a little rainy, and I needed some time off the bike, 
so I went to the Picasso show at the Strozzi.  It was great, and here
are some of my favorites that I took pictures of.  

My seemingly angelic grandchildren watching the candles as we sing for Torrio's birthday celebration on Wednesday night.  Fun time!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Quick Chianti tour on another perfect January day!

Today was / is a day of errands, personal commitments, shopping, etc.  I did find a couple of hours to get on the bike and enjoyed another great tour in Chianti.  Usually when I only have a couple of hours, I stay to the north, but decided to mix it up today, and went south.  I rode through Ponte a Ema, then up past Vacciano to San Gersole, then to Impruneta for an excellent pastry and cafe machiato.  A little more climbing, then I did the bypass around Strada, and started the descent / climb to San Polo.  I decided to take the cut off road to Capanuccia, and had not ridden this road in probably a year.  It is a nice road, and a good decision for today, as I have to pick up grandchildren momentarily.  From Capanuccia, back through Grassina and home.  Excellent, short tour.  44.3 km in 1:55 for an average of 23.1 kph with 559 meters climbed.  Sweet!!!!!!

I liked the view of the mountains beyond through the gates here
at the top of the short, but steep climb on this little road that
I rarely use.  It is a shortcut of sorts from below Strada to Cappanuccia.
A pretty road, reasonable surface, almost no traffic, so I should 
probably ride it more.  I do really like the road from San Polo to 
Capanuccia, though, and will continue to use it more.

Just a peaceful Chianti country scene.  Che bella!

Looking back toward La Panca and over toward the other road 
that I normally take from San Polo to Grassina.

A view through the olive groves from the same spot.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Celebration of 20,000 km last year and a couple of nice rides.

Last night we had the party to celebrate my accomplishing the goal of 20,000 kilometers last year of cycling.  We had a good mixed group.  Around 15 from the team, which you see in the picture below. What fun people to be around and to ride with, I am blessed.  And the women took charge of the picture and made the guys, other than me kneel down in front.  Good jobs, ladies.  We also invited the other people in our building, as they often see me leaving or returning from rides.  Many of the Italians at the party were amazed that we had done this, as I guess it just is not normal here.  Everyone seemed to be happy to be at the party, and the people in the building all seemed to talk with one another, so I guess it worked.  Kate, Nicco, and the kids were there, all looking super cute, then a good sized group of our expat friends (Emily's good friends, but I have gotten to know them), making a nice mix.  Probably around 50% Italians versus expats, which is kind of nice and representative of my time here.  

Emily is so supportive and it was just really nice for her to make the effort to make this party happen. Again, I am blessed.  I love you, Emily.  50 or 60 people in an apartment of less than 1000 square feet is not really my favorite scene, but it was fun, and only a little embarrassing to be the focus of the party.  I was only really embarrassed when Emily, then Lorenzo, from the team, gave toasts to me.  After getting everything ready for the party, I snuck out for a ride in very light rain yesterday afternoon, riding 23 k in 1:12 for an average of 19.1 kph with 506 meters of climbing.  Today, in perfect weather, I rode a favorite, sette ponte.  103.4 k in 4:24 for an average of 23.5 kph with 1390 meters climbed.  Great to be here and be healthy, and riding all the time.  Love it!

Kate used my phone to take this picture of the group from the team who came to the party last night.  It actually made me feel better about having taking time to get used to using the camera on the phone, which I thought was tricky at first.  Great group, and I would guess there were at least another 40 people at the party, which made for a crowded little apartment.  I believe everyone had fun.

The gold gear on the pedestal is from the team congratulating me on 20,000 km, and the bike is actually a pizza cutter, and is super cool.  A really nice present, as even though we told everyone not to bring anything to the party, everyone brought something.  I don't know if the pizza cutter will ever cut pizza, but it will command a prime spot on my desk.  I love it - Thanks, Margherita.

I love the approach to Castelfranco di Sopra, and I always seem to take a picture of this gate.  This is from a little farther away than normal, but shows what a beautiful day it was to ride and be out.

I managed to stop for this picture through an olive grove to the southwest from the strada sette ponte.

I love this road, the strada sette ponte, or road of seven bridges.  I have counted around 20 on the part I really like to ride, but this shows what the ride is like.  A curvy, contouring road that is simply a blast to ride.

A view back toward Rosano from the Sette Ponte area.  What a beautiful day to be out riding.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Excellent classic San Baronto tour.

Met with the team for a local classic tour this morning, out through Lastra, Montelupo, and Vinci to San Baronto.  The climb to San Baronto is just super fun.  There are so many cyclists there that you can always find someone who will hit your pace and keep you challenged for the climb.  Today, Adam, from Revelstoke, Canada, started out front, but around 1/3 the way up, I caught him and then we rode together with one other guy for the next 1/2, or most of the way up.  I stayed with the other guy, and led part time while we picked up a third on a pass, but somewhere along the way we dropped Adam.  Still, super fun climb for everyone, and Adam was only a minute or two behind me.  Paolo, Andrea, then Massimo were within 3 or 4 minutes, then Nicola was around 10 minutes out.

We all went into the bar for a well deserved cafe, and Nicola devoured a large piece of strudel.  I guess the climb worked her pretty well.  It reminded me of a time many years ago when I was ski touring with a group, and we returned from a long 9 hour day, and basically 10 of us sat and devoured all the food within sight without a single word.  Anyway, Nicola being from Revelstoke, her eating the strudel reminded me of this, as my incident was in the Selkirk mountains, which are above Revelstoke.  We descended carefully, then hit a pretty fast pace back on the flats.  We dropped Nicola and Adam a few times, and I waited to make sure they knew the way.  Anyway, sweet day and sweet tour.  97.0 kilometers in 3:32 for an average of 27.5 kph (fast for me) with 515 meters of climbing.

Super cool monument to cyclists at the top of the little pass in San Baronto.  It is a local classic, and a total cycling scene, even on a winter's day like today.  It was reasonably temperate, but chilly on the descent.  Also, the roads were quite wet descending for 2/3 of it, so caution was important.

Paolo and Adam getting water at the fountain.

It has been a while since I posted a fountain picture, I think, so
here is one of my favorites just past San Baronto where the 
descent starts.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Nice tour on a cloudy day in Chianti

We are getting things done for Sunday's party, and I still had time to get a ride in, as Emily picked up Torrio on her own, since Viola went to a birthday party / circus directly from school.  Anyway, that left me enough time for a little longer tour, and I decided to go south into Chianti.  I went out through Grassina, then climbed up 222 to Strada, which I am really starting to like.  Actually, I picked the route because I am really liking the section between Strada and Passo dei Pecorai.  It is a nice little climb, with super scenic views in all directions, so what's not to like?  Today, I decided to turn back toward Ferrone around 2/3 the way down, then ride to the Luiano turn off and return home through San Casciano.  Nice cafe and needed bathroom break in San Casciano.  Although the skies were quite grey, it stayed pretty warm, and it was a very nice tour.  65.5 kilometers in 2:49 rolling time for an average speed of 23.3 kph with 729 meters climbed.

The descent awaits at the top of the climb above Chiocchio.

Nice gate off to the side at the top.

Looking back toward Strada from the same spot.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Montesenario with Nicola, Adam, and Filippo

Life is getting busy these days, as no ride yesterday shows.  We had a leaky radiator, which is now replaced, but currently have to coordinate a little touch up painting.  We are having a party on Sunday to celebrate my 20,000 k last year, and really to invite many people over we have not yet.  It appears now we will have around 50 or more people, which in our small, 1000 sf apartment, will be interesting.  Anyway, lots of prep, which is keeping both Emily and I busy.  I rented one of my bikes to Adam, Nicola's boyfriend from Revelstoke, for 10 days, which is a nice bonus of a little income when none was expected.  When Adam picked up the bike, we set up a ride today, and I met him, Nicola, and Filippo at the shop.  We did a very nice ride out and around the stadium, then back to the start of Via Faentina, then climbed pretty directly to Montesenario.

At the start of the climb, I expected to drop the group, but no, at least one shadow stayed with me, which I thought was Filippo.  I stayed with the pace, pushing it pretty good, then Adam passed me and we had really dropped both Nicola and Filippo.  I ended up passing Adam again soon, and then thought with the current effort, I might as well see if I had a personal record in me today.  As it turns out, 4 seconds slower than my personal record, so close, but no cigar.  Adam totally dropped me on the climb to Montesenario from the top of Via Faentina where we all got back together.  It was quite warm in Florence when we started, and I had on short finger gloves.  At the top, it was really quite chilly, so the long gloves and a bandanna came out, but the descent was still kind of cold.  Filippo went directly back, as he needed to get home, but Adam and Nicola went with me and we went through Bivigliano, Viliano, and Caselina to Pratolino, where we stopped to warm up and have a cafe.  After the cafe, we descended directly down Via Bolognese to the apartment, where I bid them farewell.  Great ride today all.  48.2 kilometers in 2:21 for an average speed of 20.4 kph with 991 meters climbed.

My compatriots for today's ride at our objective, Montesenario.  What a beautiful spot.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Party and a ride on the day of the epiphany in Florence

Fun day today.  A friend from the team invited us over for a party to celebrate the epiphany then to go watch the parade.  The group was breaking up before the parade, and I probably had my times mixed up, but Emily and I left to find the parade early.  Alas, I think everyone else had the timing correct, as we were early.  Anyway, I am not real good in crowds, which would definitely show up when the parade happened.  So,  with beautiful blue skies, and predicted warm temperatures, I walked home and suited up for a ride.  Good decision, as a nice ride always makes me feel good or better.  In a rare occurrence for me, I only had a couple of Mimosas this morning, then switched to straight orange juice.  Normally when something like that is offered, I just keep going with it until I go, hold it.  Today, I switched early.  Perhaps because it was only 11:00 when we started, but either way I stopped early.

The party was fun, and there were around 5 people from the team there along with many other friends of Barbara.  I talked to one person, Luca (yes, another Luca) who did a lot of cycling, but during the winter did a fair amount of mountain biking here.  He invited me to join his group of locals, and will sometime give me a call.  He said he would arrange for a mountain bike, which is really nice.  I talked to lots of people, and it was a nice mixture of Italians, mostly Florentines, and expats, mostly from the US.  Barbara has been here for I think around 10 years, and has good friends from both groups.  It was fun, and although my Italian is always a challenge, it worked reasonably when I needed and wanted to speak with the Italians.

My ride was out the main road to Le Falle, then up to Monteloro, then up to Montefanna, before descending back to Florence through Fiesole and Pian de Mugnone.  36.3 kilometers in 1:40 for an average of 21.7 kph with 596 meters of climbing.  Another great ride!

Today is epiphany here in Florence, and the statue animals at the 
creshe in piazza del Duomo are replaced with real animals, as you 
see here.  There is a parade from the Pitti palace to this location with 
the three wise men bearing gifts.  Also, many people in medieval costumes
and the flag throwers, which is pretty neat to watch.  I did not wait for the 
parade, as it was coming slowly, with many, many more people, and the
beautiful day was calling out to me to go for a ride, which I did.

A winter view from just above the monastery below Monteloro.

Winter vines above the road to Monteloro.

I took an extra climb today on this beautiful little road to Montefanna.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Quick recovery ride in the afternoon on a beautiful, busy day.

Super busy morning and early afternoon, but time presented itself for a quick ride, so I was off.  Beautiful day today, although a little cool, probably relatively normal temperatures, with a high around 50 F.  I did a super mellow pace on a close in ride that I love.  Many of my rides close to home have a fair amount of climbing, so when I need to do an easy day, I am learning that I can simply dial back the effort by going to easier gears quickly when the climbing starts.  So, after a couple of fairly strenuous, fast days, it was nice to have a short ride and take it easy.  Just up Via Faentina to Olmo, then down toward Fiesole, turning off to descend through Vincigliata.  Sweeeeeet! 33.0 km in 1:32 for an average speed of 21.5 kph with 537 meters climbed.  Ciao.

A beautiful afternoon for a quick ride.  Here are a couple of views
just after starting the descent from the junction of the roads above Olmo.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Team picture day and a great Chianti tour.

Picture day for the team, and we met at Piazza Liberta, then went up to Piazzale Michaelangelo where we met a few more people from the team for the picture.  It was quite cloudy at photo time, but the skies started clearing as we rode out toward Chianti.  We had discussed a couple of routes at the Piazzale, but when we got to the turn off, 8 went for the short tour, leaving only Luca and I for the longer tour.  We rode out to Greve where we stopped for a cafe, and looking around, the skies were totally clear.  Hooray!  It doesn't take many days of grey skies for a Colorado boy to miss the sun.

Luca and I then climbed Sugame at a very nice, relatively mellow pace, then descended to the La Panca turn off.  I was surprised we took the turn, as I had thought Luca wanted to go to Figline / Incisa, then San Donato.  I love the La Panca ride, and we enjoyed the small climb and long descent.  We then descended from Strada to Ferrone and returned to town on the road through Tavernuzze where we had ridden out this morning with the whole group, and another 10 or 15 who joined us to make a larger group.  Luca turned off to take the tunnel and road over to Scandicci, and I continued back to the Piazzale and went home on the Viales.  Great ride and nice day, although with two days in a row of relatively long tours, I am officially tired.  Today's ride was 90.4 kilometers in 3:34 for a pretty fast average of 25.3 kph with 835 meters climbed.  Ciao a tutti!

Luca at the cafe where I went for a cafe.  Imagine, riding with an
Italian and I am the one who insists on stopping for an espresso, 
which here is simply called a cafe or cafe normale.

A sculpture in the town square in Greve.  Love the blue skies.

Looking toward the start of the climb to Passo de Sugame from
the beautiful town square in Greve in Chianti.