Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Croce Ai Mori, Stia, and Consuma on a good training ride.

Big training day today for the Granfondo Firenze coming up in two plus weeks.  The weather was fine, although the predicted winds starting around 1pm did arrive to give me a little extra training with a headwind on the way home from Consuma.  There really was no tailwind on the way to Stia, so I was hoping the wind would not arrive, but it was truly cranking on Passo della Consuma.  This is one of my "classic" tuscany long tours with two big passes taking you into the Casentino area to the East of Firenze.  

It starts with a long very mellow warm up for around 35 kilometers to the turn off for Londa which includes 200 meters of climbing.  After an excellent cafe and pastry in Londa, a small town at the base of the climb to the pass of Croce ai Mori, I mostly enjoyed the 800 plus meter climb to the pass. It is pretty mellow on this side, and you do the 800 meters in around 18 kilometers, which includes around 3 kilometers of downhill.  After the first pass, you descend to Stia, very close to the headwaters of the Arno river, which is a tiny stream at the source.  I looked for a cafe / bar in Stia I have been to a few times, but it was closed, which had me back on the bike after refilling water.  The climb to Consuma is the most challenging part of the day, which includes over 700 meters of additional climbing.  The wind started being a factor on the climb, and by the time I was at the top of the pass, it was truly cranking and relatively cool temperature wise.  Shell on, and the descent was mostly in the trees, and it definitely warmed up and the winds diminished as I descended.  

I looked for another bar in Pontassieve I had liked in the past, and it too was closed today.  I removed the shell, then started the return home with a headwind of around 20 kph, which wasn't too bad, but enough to make it a little slower than normal.  I did stop in Sieci for a little fuel and cafe, then back home.  Good training and I am feeling quite beat, but also more or less ready for the race.  It will be interesting to see how my time compares with last year.  Today's ride was 116.6 kilometers in 5:02 to average 23.2 kph with 1838 meters of climbing.  

On the way to babysit last Saturday night, this was the view from 
Ponte alla Carraia.  So beautiful I had to stop an take the picture.
I like the results.

First big pass of the day, Croce Ai Mori, an 800 plus meter climb
from the turn off toward Londa and over 1000 meters of climbing from Firenze.

Cloudy view back to the west from Croce Ai Mori.

An idyllic scene on the way descending to Stia from Croce Ai Mori.

Looking toward Bibbena from Passo della Consuma.

Last pass done!  The sign is so covered with stickers you can't
really see it, but it says, Passo della Consuma, 1052 meters
above sea level.  The Casentino mountains / hills in the background.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sweet Chianti tour on another perfect day for riding.

Finally, more perfect riding weather.  I was thinking about a long ride, but reconsidered when I checked the time and my commitments for the day.  Tomorrow is the granfondo our team is hosting, and I am at an aid station all day.  Yesteday, the folks at the shop, our sponsor, asked if and when I could bring a cake by that Emily would make.  I was a little taken aback, as I don't remember discussing this previously, but I asked Emily this morning and she was game to make a cake.  So, I need to take it to the shop this afternoon and did not want to call things close.  First day without tights since November, so spring is really here.  Hopefully, the tights do not return to action, but we shall see.

I did part of the ride I had in mind, climbing from Grassina through Strada and La Panca to Passo de Sugame.  I don't think I had ridden this in exactly this way before, and it is a great way to get to the Pass.  I descended to Greve, then after a bit on the main valley road, took the detour to climb through Luiano to San Casciano, then across the ridge through Chiesanuova before the descent to Scandicci, then home on the main roads.  It was only 4 cloudy, slightly rainy days in a row, but it seemed like a while to me.  I really enjoyed the return of perfect riding weather with sun and a high around 65.  Sweet.  85.4 kilometers in 3:29 to average 24.5 kph with 1031 meters of climbing.

Just above Luiano, this tree frames the road.

My favorite picture in a while, this captures the essence of the road below climbing through the vineyards on the way to Passo de Sugame.  I had to stop for this picture.

A view on the way to Luiano.

One of the views on the way to Passo de Sugame.

Almost to the turn off to descend to Scandicci, I decided this view 
was picture worthy.  I was stopped anyway.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Private FBB tour for 4 seasons clients.

A challenging, but nice private client tour today for Florence by Bike with clients from the 4 seasons. The only challenging part really was the weather, and the clients did not ever complain, but we all got a little cold.  Luckily, Eleonora, the super nice hostess at Villa Monteoriolo, had electric heaters on where she served lunch.  A nice couple from San Francisco who are moving to Seattle in a little less than a week.  Very interesting people and fun to ride with and talk to.  We basically did the standard FBB route to Monteoriolo, then had a wonderful lunch.  Along with being a great hostess, Eleonora is an excellent cook.  After lunch, we would have been early returning, so we decided to ride to Impruneta, which both Todd and Scott did well on.  I offered them the option of going farther and climbing more to return through San Polo, but they decided on returning.

Good decision, as just after Monteoriolo, Todd was feeling shaky, and after a little spill, decided to return via taxi.  It was a little interesting to get a taxi up there and communicate that they needed to take a bike as well as a person, but it all worked out.  Todd was totally fine with it as was Scott.  Probably a good decision, as you definitely don't want someone going past the comfort zone and risking injury.  Scott and I then rode back through San Gersole and returned to the shop.  The skies cleared as we returned, and we did not see any rain after lunch, although we certainly had some on the way up there.  Ciao a tutti!

Todd and Scott at a cloudy Piazzale Michaelangelo.  The threatening 
weather actually materialized in around 20 minutes.  A little wet!

Scott and Todd during a break in the climb to Monteoriolo.

Todd and Scott with our great hostess Eleonora at Villa Monteoriolo.

As the skies cleared, the views opened up.  This is from the 
descent to Vacciano, looking East.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Close to home between rain showers with good climbing.

Luckily the clients I had lined up for today changed our tour to tomorrow, so we were not out in a tour in the rain.  So, another rainy day here, but it started to look good around 11:30, so I thought I would get out.  By the time I was ready to go, the rain had returned, so I read for an hour plus, then took off, and luckily did not really get rained on while out.  It came down enough for me to put my rain shell and rain hat on, but it was no problem.  I kept the ride close to home in case the rain returned in force, but it did not, although at times it certainly got dark and looked like it was going to dump.  Did a pretty standard ride for me, up to San Domenico on option 2, then up and down through Maiano to the Vincigliata climb.  New saddle feels really nice, although it did mean a couple stops to adjust seat height.  After the adjustments I am liking it.  After Vincigliata, I added in Montefanna, and from this side it is quite steep for a while, with a maximum of over 20% for around 1/2 a kilometer.  It is short enough and I know it well enough that it is still fun, and a good workout for a short ride.  Out with clients tomorrow for the second time this month, then the season really starts in April.  Not overly booked yet for April, but May is looking very full.  Today's ride was 37.2 kilometers in 1:54 to average 19.5 kph with 824 meters climbed.

A view to the East from the descent after the difficult climb
maxing out over 20% to Montefanna.

Kind of a cool little road descending from Montefanna.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fun ride to the North and East

Tomorrow the forecast is for rain for a couple of days, so I wanted to get out today.  It is my 7th day in a row, and 14 out of 15, so it is probably reasonable that when I was getting ready my motivation vanished.  I just was feeling like a lump and inertia was setting in.  I got going and as usual, after an hour on the bike, magically, I was feeling great and had a wonderful ride.  Very pretty day and I am getting used to riding my old bike, the light speed, again.  Up through Fiesole to Olmo, then over through Santa Brigida, Fornello, Doccia, and by the windmill to Rufina.  I have two bars I go to there, and it being Monday, only one was open, but great cafe machiato and a super, light, cream filled pastry.  I was thinking only cafe, but looked at the pastry case and this pastry was screaming at me to eat it.  Obviously, I loved it and was happy to have the fuel.  There is a really beautiful climb of around 400 vertical meters after Rufina, so I blew out the calories and the fuel was appreciated.

I love the beautiful little water source between Rufina and Diacetto, as you can see from the pictures below.  I didn't take a picture of the water spigot itself, but the views from there.  It is different from most of the water fountains here, in that it is simply a pipe coming out of an old stone wall with a basin below with the date 1830 cut into the stone basin.  Anyway, tasty water, cool, and refreshing.  Great ride and happy to have found the motivation to get out.  71.1 kilometers in 3:32 to average a slow 20.2 kph with 1294 meters climbed, almost all that climbing in the first 40 k.  Ciao!

Vineyards, olive groves, and a fire burning the slash from lots
of olive tree trimming that is going on right now in the countryside.

Looking at the beautiful road ahead in Fornello.

The view back toward the windmill from the fountain between Rufina
and Diacetto.  One of my favorites, it is not actually a fountain but a 
spout coming out of an old stone wall from a spring somewhere above.

The little house and garden next to the super cool fountain on 
the way to Diacetto.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Excellent, mellow recovery ride into Chianti

I was pretty beat after yesterday, but pretty nice weather and a continuing desire to get out had me doing a recovery ride today.  I really enjoyed it, taking the pace very mellow and doing a course that is pretty, but for here, minimizes the climbing.  Still 414 meters of climbing, but it is all mellow and the bigger climbs (2) are only around 150 meters each.  The weather surprised me by being warmer than I expected, and although I brought my light shell, I never took it out of my pocket.  The ride today is a course I use for clients who want to get out into the countryside, at least a little bit into Chianti, but want it as easy as possible.  Last year I did it with a group and a new bar / cafe was open in La Luna, which we tried and was good.  I took a short stop there today, as my coffee addiction only seems to grow with time, and had a cafe machiato there.  It was good, it has a nice spot to sit outside, so it is in my mind as a stop for clients.  I have a day with private clients for the shop next week, and who knows, maybe we will be here.

As I am writing this, I have tuned into the classic, "Milan / San Remo", and am glad I had good weather, as the riding looks pretty miserable for the pros on the coast going to San Remo.  I will leave it to the pros to ride in cold rain at speeds I can only imagine when the conditions are perfect.  The Lightspeed was much better today, as I changed the saddle which had a part of the padding somehow come apart and fall out yesterday.  The bars, which I used to love, are the only part now that really challenge my position.  They are simply a little too broad for me now.  Interesting how we change our minds and expectations over time.  With the saddle change, I am sure now that the "Selle Italia" brand is what works for me.  As my saddle on my regular bike is wearing, I think I will replace it, and change the saddle on it to one of my rental bikes, as the saddle that had the piece fall off is basically done.  Enough rambling, time to pay attention to Milano / San Remo.  Today's ride was 54.2 kilometers in 2:19 to average 23.4 kph with 414 meters of climbing.  Ciao!

Green fields and Marliano off to the left on the Grilliao ridge.

The descent from the Grilliao climb is ahead.

Flowering tree with the vineyards and fruit orchards on the hills
in the background climbing from Cerbia to Chiesanuova

Spring vineyards at the start of the final part of the climb to 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Granfondo Firenze preview with Luca.

I met Luca Durazzi this morning to do a preview of the granfondo Firenze course.  Yesterday, I did a shorter tour with Dominick, a friend who I do some work for, and had mechanical trouble with my bike.  A week or so ago, I twisted my ankle leaving the apartment building and the bike went flying, unfortunately landing on the rear derallieur.  I adjusted a number of times, and occasionally it worked perfectly, but occasionally it did not work at all.  It got worse on the ride with Dominick, becoming quite frustrating, so I stopped at the shop when I returned for Andrea, the mechanic, to look at it.  He tried a number of things, but it still wasn't just right, and he suggested that the rear motor on the derallieur may need to be replaced.  He will check on Monday, when I take the bike in.  But in the meantime, I had promised Luca to ride the granfondo course this morning, so I put a couple of hours into making the Lightspeed work well.

We had a very nice ride, although with a different bike, with 15 year old mechanical shifting, it was at times challenging.  We caught a good sized group above Fiesole on the way to Olmo, but they stopped at the top of the first "little" pass, Vetta alle Croce.  On the way down, we picked up another guy, but he waited for the other group at the bottom.  Somewhere around the start of the climb from Scarperia to Passo del Giogo, another person joined us, and stayed with us to Passo della Futa, which was fun.  It is a pretty long course, around 150 kilometers with a fair amount of climbing, 2500 meters, so it was a challenging day.  We skipped the full route around Lago de Bilancino, and could not do the circuit of the Autodromo, so we were around 20 kilometers shy of the total.  We did get over 2400 meters of climbing in though.

Luca has a new bike, and this was his third day on it.  The previous two days had him getting personal bests on different climbs, so the bike fits him and works well for him.  He certainly was faster and stronger than I was today.  I give part of that to the different bike, and my anxiety of making it work well on a first use in over a year, but I really felt pretty good toward the end.  We had a little mix up on the descent from Futa, but eventually got back together to finish the ride.  I have a new place a block from the apartment that has an excellent burger for 4 euro and a good sized beer for another 4 euro.  I was famished and very thirsty for a beer upon my return, so I enjoyed this at "Deposito Bagali", the new place.  I basically guzzled the beer, and ordered another.  2 beers is a lot for me these days, but when I checked the stats after getting home and downloading the garmin information, it says I used around 6,000 calories today, so I am still quite a bit behind.  One of the advantages of riding a lot.  Today was 126.6 kilometers in 5:25 to average around 23 kph with 2404 meters climbed.

Luca Durazzi at the Passo del Giogo, our first really big climb
of the day, around 800 meters on this climb.  

I think it is so pretty looking North from Passo Giogo.
You can see the road starting the descent on the left.

The sign at the top of Passo della Futa after a much needed cafe
machiato and crostata.  Feeling strong after the snack and caffeine.

This picture was a mistake, and I am not sure how I took it,
but after cropping, I thought it was kind of cool.  Luca Durazzi,
my partner for the day riding, I think around Passo della Futa.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another perfect day to ride in the Tuscan countryside.

What can I say, another perfect day to be riding in the Tuscan countryside.  I have a big ride scheduled for Saturday, so after I got my day organized and commitments taken care of, I had a few hours to ride.  I did a tour I had in mind, and it was simply super.  I am enjoying the warm up aspect of the ride out on the flats to Seano and it is good for me to start enjoying flats, as I usually try to grin and bear it there.  Hopefully, I am developing some skills and strength for the flats, which will definitely help me mature as a cyclist.  Anyway, I am really into the 22 kilometers to the turn off at Seano.

Still, for me, after the turn off in Seano, the real fun begins.  Simply a beautiful road on a beautiful day.  Flowers, views, nice reasonable gradient for climbing, a beautiful little town, and a few short but quite steep (18 to 25%) pitches riding through Seano to the road to Pinone.  After connecting with the road to Pinone, what is normally difficult seams very nice after the difficulties at the end of the Bacheretto road.  The cafe / bar was surprisingly closed in Pinone, so straight down to Montelupo through Castra, another great road and wonderful, curvy, fun descent.  On the flats to Ginestra, where I stopped for a cafe and great pastry, sitting in the sun and enjoying life.  Only around 100 meters after the cafe stop, I cut off on a great, tiny road through Carchieri to Inno, a pretty good climb.  After Inno, I connect to a road I often ride, then up to Santa Maria a Marciola, another perfect road and fun climb - tiny road, almost no traffic, beautiful views, excellent weather.

I seem to be gushing, but it is just that nice right now.  Back through Scandicci back home in Firenze.  73.7 kilometers in 3:15 to average 22.8 kph with 989 meters climbed.

Wow - it really is spring (tomorrow).  Flowers on the way to
Bacheretto from Seano.  

I absolutely love this little road to Bacheretto from Seano.  The
flowers in this one spot did not hurt the ambiance today either.

Views to the East from the ridge on the way to Vigliano.  Che Bello!

The road and scenery on the ridge just after Inno.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two rides in one post and spring really arrived today!

Wow, what a perfect spring day today.  First day in I am not sure how long with no base layer, no booties, toe warmers, or skull cap needed.  Short fingered gloves too.  I guess I was pretty happy with the spring weather.  Flowers are starting as well, although I did not stop for any pictures.  I had a nice late afternoon ride yesterday as well, although the skies were very grey and the roads had just dried up after a couple of days of rain.  I just did some hill riding close to the house yesterday from around 3 to 5 - late afternoon.  I spent much of the day successfully working with the Italian bureaucracy getting my permanent residence status started.  I emailed the application with scans of all the required information this morning before the ride.  But yesterday was the really successful day.  A super helpful person made it really quite easy, not typical for here.

A few favorite roads today - Via Carota on the way to Osteria Nuova from Ponte a Ema.  The climb to Dudda, then La Panca, with the excellent descent to Strada.  The last favorite road was the super fun ride to San Polo, then up and over to Grassina.  What a pleasure to have the opportunity to ride here almost every day.  Today's ride:  81.0 k in 3:36 with 1218 meters of climbing.  Yesterday:  42.5 k in 2:15 with 974 meters climbed.  Ciao.

This villa on the hill with the green fields made me stop here for
some pictures.  It is just after Burchio almost to the top of the short
climb after the town on the way to Incisa.

Looking back toward Burchio almost done with the little climb
as you leave town.

Looking to the east just after passing through Burchio.

Ponte agli Stoli from just after the water bottle fill up.  What 
a beautiful day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Solo recovery ride before the rain comes.

My plan was a couple days off, but I awoke to sunshine, which mostly went away by the time I was on the bike, but the forecast has the rain holding off until this afternoon, then rain for a couple of days.  So, I figured it would be good to get out, even if I was a little tired.  I decided on a recovery ride, enjoying the flats out through the Cascine (lots of Sunday traffic) then out Pistoiese (very little traffic on a Sunday) to Seano.  I climbed to Carmignano, and even though it was a recovery ride, I threw in a short interval on the climb, well, for most of the climb.  Nice stop for cafe in Carmignano, then down to Comeana, where I tried a new route that took me back to Poggio a Caiano.  From there, back basically the same way on the flats to Florence.  I enjoyed the flats today, which is unusual for me.  51.9 kilometers in 2:01 to average 25.6 kph with 255 meters of climbing.

Looking to the East from my cafe break in the main piazza in 
Carmignano today.  Nice to get out for a couple hours before
the predicted weather change this afternoon.

The view back to the cafe / bar where I usually have my cafe
in Carmignano.  They seem to be getting ready for spring with
additional tables and chairs outside.  I only started going here 
recently, so it will be interesting to see how the scene changes
with the seasons.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Classic Chianti tour with the team.

Really nice team tour this morning.  We met at Piazzalle Michaelangelo, then with a little discussion about routes, set off to Greve and then Panzano.  A classic route here, and very popular on a Saturday morning.  I often get quite tired of this route, but had not been out there on this route for over a month, maybe two, so, it was really fun.  After Greve, I did my interval for the day, and ended up riding with / passing / being passed / then chasing a very strong group of 5.  After I pulled ahead of them, they totally picked up the pace, passed me, then after a little time trying to hang on, letting them go.  Interestingly, I ended up passing two of the four before the top, but the other two stayed out of my sight range.  A fun group to climb with and test myself with.  I am trying to do a 20 minute interval of climbing on most rides these days to train for the upcoming events.

In Panzano, we had cafe, then discussed the remainder of the day.  4 of us were game for a longer tour to Castellina, a slight surprise, as Luca and I had discussed this at the beginning, and we thought it would be the two of us.  Nicola, a Canadian woman from Revelstoke, who I have been riding with semi often, is quite strong, and really surprised Luca in particular.  His english is quite good, and he said at the top of all the climbs, "You are superwoman!"  Anyway, simply a very nice tour, a classic here, and good weather, although a little cloudy / overcast, good company, just a great day.  Sweet.  Next, I watch the Tirenno / Adriatico on Italian TV.  La bella vita.  (The good life).  106.2 kilometers in 4:11 to average 25.4 kph with 1339 meters climbed.

The group from the team this morning in Panzano, after cafe, but before we split into two groups.  Luigi, Nicola, Luca and I went on a longer tour to Castellina.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tirenno / Adriatico at Poggio alle Croce today!

Tirenno / Adriatico today!  I love this kind of thing.  It is a very low key race to watch, but has basically all the best pros in the world racing.  Simply very cool.  It lacks the hoopla of the Giro, which actually is quite nice.  When the peleton came by, they were literally less than a foot from me with no barricades.  I was totally amazed how densely packed the peleton was.  So colorful, so fast, so fun to watch.  I went with a group from the team, 5 of us to start, all of whom made it to San Polo for excellent cafe / pastries.  A couple went back to Strada in Chianti to watch the race come by at the top of the little climb from Ferone, leaving three of us at the top of Poggio alle Croce.  A perfect day, cool, but sunny.  The lead group was around 5 to 10 minutes ahead of the peleton, and broke apart around 300 meters from the top when 2 of 5 took off to sprint for the Mountain points.  It is hard to express how fast they were sprinting at the top of a semi difficult climb.  Wow!  Even with this being pretty low key, I think there are more vehicles, including vans, motorcycles, team cars, etc. than there are cyclists.  The whole thing is pretty amazing.

A picture of the line and GPM sign for the rated climb at Poggio
alle Croce while we waited an hour or so for the pros.

The two leaders at Poggio alle Croce sprinting for the mountain
points as this is the rated climb for the day.  They were going really
fast on this final sprint for the line.

The second group of three riders just 20 seconds behind the leaders.

Finally, here comes the pro peleton - cool!

My favorite picture of the day, as the pro peleton comes by.  I stopped with the pictures after this one so I could simply enjoy it going by.  I did say hi to Alberto and Vicenzo.  I don't think they heard.  Aside from it just being fun to watch, they went by at the top of a cat 3 climb really fast in a very, very dense pack.  Surprised how close they all were to each other.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Two rides, one post. It's springtime here!

One post, two rides.  Yesterday, it was a very busy day, but I was able to get out from around 3 to 5 and rode the route I proposed for the new Florence by Bike tour into Chianti, which will feature a wine tasting at Villa Le Corti, a Corsini castle, where an actual prince still lives.  After talking with Kate, it seems that Nicco, my son in law, is good friends with the prince, which puts it into perspective.  Still, for the normal North American tourist, which is what most of the clientele is for the Florence by Bike tours, a wine tasting and lunch at the villa where a prince still lives is pretty much what they are looking for.  Anyway, I did the ride we proposed when I drove this with Marika last week, so she could have a Garmin print out of the profile, map, etc.  It is a little harder than the tour we have done the last few years to Monteoriolo, but the villa there did not have a wine tasting and Marika is sure this tends to eliminate at least 50% of the potential clients.  We shall see how it works this year.  I already have 3 days reserved for these tours, and expect more in the future, as they seem to be coming to me first or second this year, as I think I was sort of the last choice last year.  A nice route to Galluzzo, then up the switchbacks to the excellent ridge ride through Chiesanuova, Spedaletto, to San Casciano, then to the villa.  Back by way of Falciani, the through Cinque Vie after Galluzzo.

Today, I met Nicola, a visiting Canadian, who is here for 9 months and has been riding with the team often for the last 4 months or so.  We left Piazza Liberta, then went out through Ponte a Ema, then up Via Carota, one of my favorite roads to Via Roma, then up to San Donato in Collina, descending to Cellai, then turning off for Bombone.  Another of my favorite roads here, and we enjoyed the ride to Bombone.  Back on a more main road, and also into the wind, as this part of the ride is pretty open.  The wind was surprisingly strong, and we stopped just past Rosano for a cafe and pastry.  This is a great spot, although I have only stopped there a few times, but excellent cafe and really wonderful food.  We shared a slice of cake - chocolate / Ricotta, which was great and two different types of Fratelli, a traditional pastry for this time of year.  Anyway, really great, and the two guys behind the counter, cousins, took the time to give us a little history of the place and their family has been running this incarnation of the building / business for over 100 years.

We enjoyed a tail wind on the main road to Sieci, then turned off to climb to Monteloro, then decided to climb a little more to Montefanna before descending to Fiesole.  From Fiesole, back into town taking a nice little road from San Domenico to Le Cure.  Fun to ride with Nicola, as she is a strong rider, a very nice person, and very enthusiastic about the riding and the routes I take her on.  Today's ride was 63.3 kilometers in 3:09, averaging 20.1 kph with 1252 meters climbed.  Yesterday was a little over 50 k in a little over two hours with around 500 meters of climbing.  Good couple of days.

A grey, but nice afternoon yesterday.  The hills and a couple
of villas in the San Casciano area, after starting the descent
to Falciani.

What a beautiful day for a ride.  The countryside just after the turn 
off to go toward Bombone.

Love the way the trees frame this villa in the countryside to the
North of Cellai.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Variation of my Giro de Mugello with Randy.

No weather complaints today.  Started relatively cool, but clear skies, a mild breeze, and very moderate temperatures made for a perfect day for a cycling tour in the Mugello.  Randy, who is here for around a year, but only 4 more months, contacted me to ride, and I thought he had not really been into the Mugello, so why not?  He had enough time, barely, as the ride I had in mind takes me a little over 3-1/2 hours, so I thought the two of us at a slower pace would hit 4-1/2 hours easy.  Well, I was right, but just barely, as we finished right at 4-1/2 hours after meeting at Piazza Liberta.  I tried to take roads and routes that Randy had not ridden, and was mostly successful.  I think the only time he had ridden in the area, I was guiding him as a client.

For now, we are simply riding as friends, although I am still pretty much determining routes as we go.  He is a nice guy and a strong athlete, and fun to ride with.  We rode out through Le Cure, then up Via Faentina the turned off a Pian de Mugnone to climb to Fiesole.  I started to moderate my pace as we started the climb, but he encouraged me to ride at my own pace and wait at the top, saying he was more comfortable with this.  OK, I hit it pretty good and enjoyed the climb to the top.  We regrouped in Fiesole, then rode up to Vetta alle Croce, then up to Bivigliano and over to the descent to Vaglia.  We had ridden part of this together before, but it was all new after Bivigliano.  Sweet descent to Vaglia, perfect today, other than the car I caught around 3/4 the way down.

Out through Scarperia the over / up to San Agata with my usual stop for cafe and pastry.  As I told Randy, we are really off the tourist path now, as it is a small town and a totally local bar.  They are always very nice to me there and appreciate the business.  Our timing today had the bar pretty full of people for wine, cafe, paninis, pasta, etc.  A fun scene.  A wonderful ride over to Galliano, then down to the cut off for Bosco ai Frati.  Another gem of a road, then we were back at San Piero a Sieve.  Over to Borgo San Lorenzo, then up Via Faentina back to Vetta la Croce, then descending home.  Just a perfect day to ride here.  87.2 kilometers in 3:54 averaging 22.3 kph with 1344 meters climbed.

While waiting for Randy at Vetta alle Croce, I checked out the
hiking trail to Alberaccio.  I hiked this when we lived in Santa 
Brigida, around 3-1/2 years ago.  Bellissima!

Almost done, hang in there Randy.

Happily finished with the last climb, Randy said, "Wow, I 
am really gassed"  Couldn't say it better myself.  

Randy approaching the top at Vetta alle Croce.