Wednesday, April 29, 2015

3 rides, one post, bye Don and Kay, hello Passo della Consuma.

It's been a while, but I have been riding.  Monday, I had a van supported tour, then wine tasting with some very nice folks from Texas, for Dominick's company.  The tasting at Podere la Capella and lunch is really special - excellent wine and fantastic food.  It needs to be van supported, as after a big meal (really big) and a few glasses of wine, I don't want to be taking anyone on a tour.  Safety first.  We lucked out with the weather, as the forecast was really bad, but we only encountered sprinkles.  It did start raining hard upon our return to Firenze.  

Yesterday, Don and Kay took their last ride with me for this visit, a short ride into what Don is calling, "Cosimo's playground".  Basically one of my normal short close rides.  Sprinkled on us most of the time, but never hard enough to be problematic.  I think 10 rides this year together, which was fun.  See you next year, Don and Kay.

Today, I got a call to do a tour tomorrow for Florence by Bike, and I have a tour for Dominick on Friday, then another granfondo on Sunday.  I wanted to get a little training in for the Sunday granfondo, so I picked a pass relatively close to Firenze, Passo della Consuma.  The team is having a fun competition to get members to climb 5 passes in the area.  With today's ride, I have 4 of 5 completed, and only one person has done all 5 so far.  Perhaps I will be the second to complete the "Brevetto".  No points or anything for doing it 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, etc., but it would be fun to be the second one to get it done.  Jean Lu, who was the first to complete it, was here on vacation for around 3 weeks and made it his mission to get it done.  I really enjoyed my solo tour, and did a different return route to Florence from the pass, turning off at Borselli and enjoying the super pretty road down toward Rufina.  A well deserved cafe and pastry in Rufina, then just a crank back home on a main road.  84.1 kilometers in 3:51 with 1221 meters climbed.  

It's pretty to me - the bike, the sign for Passo della Consuma, 
and the beautiful scenery in the Casentino area.  

Recording Consuma for a team challenge we are doing - 
Brevetto Scalatore - for 5 passes reasonably close to Florence
After today, only one left.  

Bike, fence, and sign for Passo della Consuma.

The private chapel at Podere la Capella.  Beautiful, simple structure.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Don and Kay, day 9 - beautiful ride into Chianti before the rain.

A slow start today with Don and Kay, as we all have had a few good days in a row.  Also, rain predicted for later and lots of rain in the forecast for tomorrow afternoon.  I have a tour tomorrow, but thank goodness, it is van supported, so we will have the option of refuge as needed.  Today, we were on the road around the crack of 11:30, which was fine.  I have become accustomed to the rhythm that Don and Kay are on for riding while on vacation, and whereas it is quite different than my natural flow, it is working fine this year.  Last year on their visit, it threw me for a loop a little, and I struggled to adjust.  Don and I discussed routes, and I came up with a different loop that would bring us back in 3 hours or so, with the rainy forecast.  

We went out a normal way past Piazzale Michaelangelo, then down to Galuzzo on the main road.  We hooked up to the main road through Tavernuzze to Ferrone where we turned off.  We had a nice climb to Strada, where an Italian and I dueled for a while before, surprisingly, this old man dropped him pretty good.  Definitely do not want to get a big head about it, as I know there are very many who can and do drop me like a sack of rocks, but it felt good.  I waited for Don and Kay at the roundabout, then we went over and hooked into the road to San Polo.  Great ride down, then up this road, and we stopped for cafe and snacks at my favorite little spot there.  I go there enough now that the SeƱora, the owner, recognizes me, and is always super nice.  Back on the bikes for a wonderful return to Firenze on another favorite road of mine to Cappanuccia.  We branched off to add a short climb and dropped in a back way to Grassina, followed by a route into the center so we could have gelato at Neri, a favorite gelateria of Don and Kay's.  Home to finish another fine ride.  57.6 kilometers in 2:45 with 645 meters of climbing.  Ciao.

These trees were absolutely going off with almost white, pale yellow flowers.
Much more impressive in person, but you get the idea.  

Don and Kay at my favorite stop in San Polo.  The proprietor,
an elderly lady is always super nice and welcoming.  As always
here, excellent espresso and pastries.

I loved the forced perspective the vineyards made here, looking toward Le Torre, on the way
to Grassina on a tiny back road.

Vineyards above Grassina on the way home.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Private family tour for FBB - great day!

I had a private tour for Florence by Bike today.  Very nice couple and daughter from Sun Valley Idaho.  I had a number of things in common with Tom, the dad.  He skied a lot, but almost exclusively in the backcountry.  We had been to a number of the same backcountry huts in Canada.  Sun Valley is at the end of a road, like Crested Butte.  There is almost always a headwind on the return from a road ride.  His children are 3 years apart with an older daughter, who was with us, and a younger son, who stayed at home.  He did a lot of mountain biking in the summer.  I think the list could go on, but it was interesting.  We met at the shop, got everyone set up on "race" bikes, and were off.  They expressed an interest in seeing Chianti, so we went south.  With the two options of climbing to Impruneta, they choose my favorite, the way through Vacciano.

Our only real problem all day was at Piazzale Michaelangelo where Lisa's cleat on her shoe was so loose she could not disengage the pedal.  I had her take off the shoe, and Tom and I played around with everything for 1/2 hour or so, before the shoe was loose and the cleat off the shoe and disengaged with the pedal.  At this point, it was simply replacing the cleat on the shoe, although in a different location, as the screw hole was stripped, then tightening both cleats to the shoes.  We were on the road quickly after that, and they were all strong riders, good athletes, and fun to take for a tour.

Nice break in Impruneta, where we saw Don and Kay on their way to Radda and Poggibonsi today.  Cafe, OJ, pastries, panini, and we were back on the road.  We decided on a longer tour at this point, so we went down toward Falciani, then up past Luiano to the road by Mercatale.  Minds were changed by now, and instead of heading to Montefiridolfi, we went over to San Casciano.  Good gelato there, then a nice mellow pace back to the shop.  I did take Tom down the road to Scandicci at speed, as he was pretty much with me all day and both of us would wait for Lisa and Madalyn.  Again, very nice family and a fun group to take on a tour.  Thanks for "Riding with Cosimo".  59.9 kilometers in 3:32 with 824 meters of climbing.  Ciao!

Tom, almost at the picture spot, close to our last real break.

Here they come on the road to San Casciano.

Lisa and Madalyn on the way to San Casciano.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 8 with Don and Kay, Sette Ponte, Vallombrosa, Firenze - a classic.

Pretty long ride today, but really nice.  I am quite congested with a cold, but riding usually clears it up, which it did today.  Last night was a little tough, as I woke around 2 am believing someone had put ready-mix concrete in my nose.  Probably more than anyone wants to know, but I kind of go with whatever flow seems to be in my brain when I write these posts here.  Last year when Don and Kay were here, we tried the same ride, but omitted the climb to Saltino and Vallombrosa.  It is a tribute to Kay's increased fitness this year that we did the bigger ride today.  It is not easy, but it is what I would call a local classic.  It has it all.  Great climbs, awesome descents, fabulous views, perfect twisty roads, everything.  So great day today, Team Vecchio, as Don, Kay, and I used to call ourselves when I lived in Crested Butte.  107 kilometers in 4:55 with 1650 meters climbed.  Great day.

Don and Kay at the beautiful old gate at Castlefranco di Sopra.
The sette ponte road, our objective for the day starts in a kilometer 
or so from here.  Sweet!

Here comes Donnie C.

Don completing the climb to Saltino.

The vineyards are just starting to burst with leaves.  Kind of pretty.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hills close to home north of town with Donnie C.

Don and Kay returned from Pescia today.  Pescia is a special little town that sits at the start of a mountainous drainage, with lots of fun riding.  Emily and I spent a couple weeks close by, outside of Lucca in Ponte a Moriano last August, and I did some of the rides.  They love the hotel they stay at and love the wonderful riding there.  They were back around 12:45, and Kay declined a ride today, but Don and I got out for a short ride.  I had a different route in mind, but after thinking about it, I took him around the Cercina area taking 4 of the 6 ways up and down to and from the town.  I had a little longer ride in mind, but when I gave him the option, he decided on returning a faster way.  It turned out to be a good decision, as it started sprinkling about 1 kilometer from home, and was actually raining within 15 minutes of our return.  Nice to stay dry.  Anyway, fun ride in the countryside.  It is a beautiful time of year, and unlike yesterday, I felt good when I returned.  Ciao a tutti!  36.4 kilometers in 1:55 averaging 19.0 kph with 810 meters of climbing.

I love this view climbing toward the Church above Cercina.  Here
it is on our second time (different routes each time) today.

Donnie C's two hero shots of the day, finishing the climb
to the Church.  Beautiful day, until 3 minutes before we returned
when it started to sprinkle.  The real rain held off until we were
home and dry.  I will take luck any time. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quick ride to the North on a beautiful spring day.

Lots of errands and chores today, and I am honestly not feeling great.  I have been fighting a cold for almost a week, and today I think I let my guard down enough for it to take a small toll on me.  I still think it will be gone in a couple of days, as the symptoms usually last a little over a week for me.  It seems that the more I fight and healthier I am, the less severe the symptoms are.  So, anyway, it got me a little today.  Usually, a ride makes me feel better, but today was the exception to the rule.  Super beautiful day, and a nice, short ride close to home, and I felt basically ok while I was riding, but upon my return, things caught up with me.  Still, nice to get out and enjoy the beautiful Tuscan countryside here on a perfect spring day.  24.4 k in 1:13 with 481 meters climbed.

I like this picture so much I went to the maximum size.  Wisteria going crazy on the descent from Cercina to the Careggi area.

More wisteria on the descent.

I don't know how well it shows here, but the new leaves on 
all the trees seemed to glow with their own light today.

Two wonderful rides in perfect weather.

Monday, I got out in perfect weather for a short and relatively flat tour around Florence, simply to flush the legs after the effort on Sunday.  It felt really good, and after yesterday's ride, I am sure it was the right thing to do.  That ride was around 35 k with 200 meters of climbing.

Yesterday, Jean Lu, who is visiting wanted to climb Passo Colla, where I had never been before.  He lived here a year ago and was an integral part of the team and a fun person to be around, always positive.  We have a team challenge, Brevetto della Firenze, or a diploma climbing 5 passes around here.  Jean is trying to finish this this week, and good luck to him.  So, with visitors I had not been able to get out with him, but yesterday it worked.  We were joined by 3 others which made for a very nice group for a tour.  Marguerita, Jean, and I left from Piazza Liberta, and climbed through Fiesole to Olmo, where we met Leonardo and waited for Tiziano, who was climbing from Fiesole when Jean phoned him.

Down and through Borgo San Lornezo, where I found out none of us had ever ridden this area before.  I had looked at a map, and we easily found our way to the road to the pass.  What an amazing and beautiful road.  I did not stop for photos, as when riding with a group, you kind of go, and honestly, my ego wanted me to not fall behind the other 3 guys.  All three dropped me around 1/2 way up, but surprisingly, I almost caught them by the top.  I tend to go my own pace on a climb, and I was within 50 meters of them at the top.  Just a super road.  Winding most of the way up with many spots where it switchbacked many times giving one a view of both the climb ahead and the climb already completed below.  It did not hurt that it was sunny, very crystal clear, and around 70 F with the trees in the middle of their spring explosion.

We had a nice break at the top, found a wonderful fountain for water on the way down, then basically returned the way we came, with a couple of changes.  Just an excellent ride and fun day.

Marguerita, Tiziano, Jean Lu, and Leo at the top of the climb.

Marguerita, Jean Lu, Leonardo, and I at the pass.

The obligatory photo of the sign at the pass.  Not as well travelled as
some, the sign is not totally covered with stickers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Granfondo Firenze!

Finally, the race happened yesterday.  I had some thoughts that I was taking all this a little too seriously, but it worked out fine at the race.  Lots of people, around 3,800, which is a crazy amount of people starting a race.  Many are not "racing", just enjoying a competitive tour.  Many were really "racing" and the sprinting at the start really surprised me.  The weather was a little cool in the morning, and waiting around 45 minutes for the start got kind of cold, but once the race started, we all warmed up.  It was slow and in control until we were out of the Cascine, but going through the city, people really started riding very fast.  A slightly different route through the city this year, with less cobbles, made for a much faster start.  By the time we were at the timing pad for the real start, I was thinking, I cannot hold this pace too long.  I stayed with one of the leading groups to above Fiesole, but when they sprinted on the long and gentle climb from Fiesole to Vetta alle croce, I decided not to push my hardest to stay with them.  I settled in with a less strong group, but enjoyed the help of the group as we had a 15 to 20 mph headwind most of the way to Firenzuola.

Excellent descent with a group down to Borgo San Lorenzo, very fast, then a good push to the Autodromo.  I was back with Luca Durazzi here, as he said the pace was just too fast for a long race.  We stayed together most of the way around the Autodromo, but just after, I stopped to remove my shell before our first big climb of the day to Giogo.  I felt pretty good up Giogo, passing more people than passed me, but really a very strong group of riders all day long.  I stopped at Giogo for water, and stopped at all the ristoros for quick food and water when available.  Did not want to be running on empty.  Great descent to Firenzuola, and finally the headwind turned to side or tail wind.  The climb to Futa is the hardest part of the course, and it certainly was yesterday.  I did feel pretty good, though, and I think the stopping for food and water, as quickly as I could stuff food into my mouth and put a couple of bananas into my pockets, was a good strategy.  

We descended from Futa directly down Via Bolognese, then did the loop around Lago Bilancino.  Always good to be in a group here, in particular on the South side of the lake when the winds were in the face again.  It is always interesting to do this in a group race, as truly nobody will take the lead from the people in front.  Eventually some changes go on, but it is a fun dynamic to be involved in.  We were catching the slower people doing the shorter douse by now, and it was a little harder to get food really fast at the last opportunity.  I had a good tailwind toward Vaglia, and a group caught me a couple of kilometers before Vaglia and I enjoyed staying with them to the start of the real climb to Pratolino.  I knew a couple of people in the group, which was nice.  The climb to Pratolino is the last real hard climb of the day, and it includes a good, hard stretch above Pratolino to Croce alle Vetta.  

Time to crank it down hill, and we really did.  We had caught many people doing the shorter course, so there was quite a bit of passing at high speed down the hill.  I stayed careful, but still managed to pass the slower riders.  The final piece of the race is the "wall" of Via Salviati.  It was part of the world championship course, and I think that is why they include it.  It is not long, but to finish 140 plus kilometers with 40 vertical meters of climbing at 20% is a little rough.  I was fine, but probably passed 50 people walking their bikes up the hill.  I rode down to the Cascine and enjoyed the pasta party with teammates.  Back home for a late nap, food, then sleep.  I was the last of our group of 4 who did the long course, but felt good about my effort and time.  The course was a little longer than last year and my time was a minute slower, so I am happy with everything.  Luca L was around 20 minutes faster, Luca D around 10 minutes faster, and Leif around 5 minutes faster, although we did not have the real results at that time.  My final stats for the race were 140.4 kilometers in 5:05 with 2850 meters of climbing.  Happy, but glad it is done.  Next up competition wise is the Sette Muri, or seven walls event in a couple of weeks, then Nove Colli.  Ciao.

Waiting for the start with the two Lucas from our team.  Both 
very strong climbers, and along with Leif and I the 4 of the 23 
from the team to do the long course.  They both finished ahead
of me, no surprise there, Luca L at around 4:48 and Luca D at
around 4:52.  Great job everyone.

Quite a scene when around 3800 cyclists line up to start the 
Granfondo Firenze.  The groups were separated by number, so
it was quite organized.  Still, the start was super fast!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Final taper ride - ready to race on Sunday!

Nice, easy last taper ride today with Nicola with just the right pace, distance, and effort level to be ready for the race on Sunday.  Nicola will be doing the race as well, and after our discussions today, I think she will do the long course, but we shall see.  I just checked our entries, and we have 23 from our team in the race.  Only 4 or 5 will be doing the long course, but hopefully it will be fun for all.  I have had a different approach this year, perhaps taking the whole thing a little too seriously, but I am trying for a fast time, under 5 hours, I hope, and have tried to prepare well for the event.  It will be interesting to see how this works for me, what my time will be versus last year, and how much I enjoy the event.  Last year I certainly tried to go as fast as possible for me, but was really pretty casual and approached it as a fun, timed event rather than a race.  We shall see how the different preparations worked.  This year's course is a little longer than last year's with the loop through the autodromo race course thrown in, which probably adds around 7 kilometers.  Check the blog on Monday for results.  Today's ride was 54.1 kilometers in 2:19 with 284 meters climbed.  Wish me luck!

My last taper ride before my race on Sunday.  I rode with Nicola,
and we had a very nice tour to Carmignano and back through Signa.
We stopped in Carmignano for a cafe and pastry, and the change from 
a week and one half ago was amazing.  I have been coming through here
most of the winter at least a couple of times a month, and all the piazza
furniture was stored.  Today, we enjoyed lounging with tables for
our cafe.  A very pleasant scene.  Nicola returns to Revelstoke, Canada
in a couple of weeks after 8 months here and was wondering how she would
react to being back with "Starbucks and Tim Hortons"

Another view of the small piazza outside the Pontormo Cafe.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 6 with Don and Kay - Chianti with Sugame, Panzano, and La Piazza.

Interesting and excellent tour today.  Kay had the road from Strada to La Panca, then passo de Sugame to Greve in mind.  We needed to be there before 1:00pm to enjoy food at her favorite bakery.  It is a great bakery and I certainly enjoyed what I had.  I packed in my pocket a piece of Strudel that certainly helped my power toward the end of the ride.  Don wanted to do the ride from Panzano through La Piazza to San Donato in Poggio, so we did that after the bakery stop in Greve.  It turned into a really nice tour with excellent cafe, snacks, great gelato at one of my favorite places in Florence on the return.  A little cloudy and cool on the way out, but the skies cleared as we rode and we ended up with a beautiful day.  They leave tomorrow for a week in Pescia, a special little town with excellent riding at the east end of the Garfagnana area.  I have enjoyed the riding there with them before, and caught some of it last summer when we were outside of Lucca for a couple of weeks.  I don't think it will work to get there on this trip, as I am focused on my race / granfondo on Sunday, which is smack dab in the middle of their stay there.  I may make it there yet, who knows.

Really nice tour today with a route through Gavinana, Grassina, Strada, La Panca, Passo de Sugame, Greve, Panzano, La Piazza, San Donato in Poggio, Sambuca, San Casciano, Chiesanuova, Scandicci and back home to Firenze.  100.8 kilometers in 4:50 to average 20.8 kph with 1509 meters of climbing.  Sweet!

I stopped to wait for Kay with Don by this colorful villa on the 
road from Grassina to Strada.  I have ridden past countless times, 
but never stopped to take a photo.  It is beautiful and there are 
benefits to waiting for others.

Kay riding past a colorful villa around Ugolino.

Don posed with the big wicker wine bottle in the
main piazza in Panzano, waiting for Kay.

I really liked the color and texture of the stone and the many
shapes in the architecture of this villa, while waiting for Don
and Kay just past La Piazza.

Don and Kay enjoying gelato at B-Ice, a great gelateria here
in Florence on a little detour on the way home.  I had some too.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 5 with Don and Kay - Kay's route, really nice.

Another day out with our guests Don and Kay.  Today was Kay's day to pick the route, and she basically gave me a few town names and roads she wanted to ride and then I connected the dots.  Great ride, Kay.  I think we all had fun.  It did not hurt that the weather was pretty perfect with a high around 75 F with beautiful blue skies.  At a stop in Ponterotto, a favorite cafe / bar of mine, we had cafe, panini, and pastries.  I had told Don the dolce, or sweet pastries were special here, but he and Kay had a panini which they split.  He saw the dolce I was eating and the look on my face and went inside to get another for him and Kay.  After a couple of bites, he was back inside to get the last one, as he thought they were amazing.  I simply said, I come here often and know what to get.  We then rode to San Casciano, and I took them through the town to show them another good stop for cafe, panini, or quite good gelato.  Well, given the chance, Kay decided we should stop again and have gelato, so two stops in less than 1/2 hour for food.  Good gelato and beautiful spot.

Great tour again today guys, hitting Scandicci, San Michele a Torri, Montagnana, San Pancrazio, San Casciano, Chiesanuova, Galuzzo, Cinque Vie, and back home to Firenze.  71.5 kilometers in 3:25 averaging 20.9 kph with 1009 meters of climbing.  Sweet ride!

Poppiano on the next ridge over on the way to San Pancrazio.

Just another really beautiful road in the Tuscan countryside.

Iconic cypress trees lining a driveway around Montagnana.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Granfondo preview with Don - I am feeling ready.

Awesome day for a long tour.  Don and I did most of the granfondo course today, which was a tour I had wanted to take him on, but it is simply a little too hard and long for Kay.  I also got the benefit of a last hard tour before I taper for the granfondo in one week.  I really felt good today, we were pretty fast, and I feel very ready for the race, which is nice.  When we started, I basically felt tired, but I think it was the effects of a big meal last night, and I rode the climb to San Domenico pretty hard, and all the fog I was in lifted.  Really a great day for this long, hard tour, and we rode it quite quickly, at least for me.  We had a couple more stops than normal for me, but they were nice.  Cafe at Passo Giogo and Passo della Futa, along with water fill ups many spots along the way.  I actually found the correct climb from Firenzuola today, and after noticing all the signs, it is obvious why I normally do not find it.  Basically, you have to follow signs for Bologna from Firenzuola until you get to Via Bolognese, when you get a sign for Firenze and Passo della Futa.  Really fun, nice day and a good last hard ride before tapering.  116.4 kilometers in 4:54 to average 23.7 kph with 2298 meters climbed.  Atta boy, Don!

Don was pretty excited by the autodromo race track with a 
motorcycle race in progress.

The view toward the East from just above the Autodromo.

Quite the motorcycle scene at the top of Passo Giogo as Don 
and I sat and enjoyed the sun with our cafes.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 3 with Don and Kay - great tour into the Mugello, then east to Diacetto.

Another day out with our guests, Don and Kay, good friends from Crested Butte.  I learned from last year to not be impatient to get started.  After all, they are on vacation and everyone lives to their own rhythms.  So, we were on the road at the crack of noon today.  We did have an excellent tour though, and the weather cooperated well.  We basically did a route that Kay suggested today, although it is a standard tour for me in this direction.  We climbed the main road to Fiesole, which I do not often do, then up to the Monteloro turn off.  Here we started the Monteloro descent, then turned off for a tiny road that Kay in particular likes over to the road that hooks up with the contour road through Santa Brigida, Fornello, Doccia, and the windmill before descending to Ruffina.  Great panini and cafe in Ruffina at one of my regular spots, then one of my favorite climbs to Diacetto.  Over to Pelago, then descending to Pontasieve then cranking back into Firenze.  Really nice tour of 76.6 kilometers in 3:53 to average a very civilized 19.7 kph with 1323 meters of climbing.  Tomorrow, Don and I will do the granfondo course, which is a little hard for Kay, but she graciously suggested we do it and she will have a girl's day with Emily.  Ciao a tutti.

Beautiful church at the main piazza in Fiesole.

Don and Kay at the main piazza in Fiesole.

The view on the contouring road between Fornello and Doccia.

Another beautiful road in Toscana.

Don and Kay climbing together around Doccia.

Kay almost at the top of the last climb.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 2 with Don and Kay - Bacheretto, Castra, Ginestra and home.

Second day out with our guests, Don and Kay from Crested Butte, where we used to live.  I asked what they would like to ride last night, and Don asked me for a suggestion, hopefully with something new.  I happily offered one of my new favorites, and we rode out through the Cascine to Via Pistoiese to Seano.  I had warned them it was a busy road, but everyone was fine with it.  My weakest point cycling is my power on flat roads, and I have learned to enjoy it more, so with practice, I will get stronger there.  After Seano, the fun begins.  We rode new roads for Don and Kay through Bacheretto then back on the regular road to Pinone.  Water, cafe, and some really excellent fritelle de riso.  Next is the super fun descent through Castra to Limite, then the flat, main road to Montelupo, then Ginestra.  More water in Ginestra, then up through Carchieri and Inno to Vigliano, where we turned off to go over through Santa Maria a Marciaolla to the descent to Scandicci.  The first time I rode this was with Don and Kay while visiting here and we were exploring together.

Super fun day, and a stop at B-Ice, a great gelateria on the way home.  I offered up riding through the Centro, which they wanted to do, so a little craziness at the end of the ride.  Perfect weather, with a high around 70F and mostly sunny.  My first day with shorts and short sleeved jersey, although I did have arm warmers for the start and descents. Sweet day!  79.5 kilometers in 3:56 to average 20.5 kph with 996 meters of climbing.

Don and Kay in front of the old Medici summer villa in Poggio a Caiano.

Just another beautiful road in Toscano.

Don climbing on the way to Inno.

Kay climbing through the town of Cherciacheri.

Bike building, getting guests started, and a family tour in the Cascine.

Interesting and busy day yesterday.  We have visitors for a few weeks, and yesterday was their first day here.  Late sleep, giving them both a solid 14 hours for the night had us getting started around 10:30.  The cafe, bike building, as they bring really cool Ritchey Break-a-ways.  We had an interesting time when Don broke a bolt tightening it, and had an hour and a half of figuring out how to get it out and replaced.  It was right at the time that things close for lunch here, so we did some good, creative engineering to get it done.  By the time we were ready to roll, I had received a call to see if I could take a family out from the shop at 4:45, and I said yes, so our time riding together was limited.  They know the roads pretty well around here, so we went a direction they knew but did one of my favorite wrinkles climbing up to Vacciano.

I returned to the shop to meet the family, a nice Mexican family with a Father and 5 children, aging from 12 to 20.  All was good, but one of the girls, around 15 years old, had basically only ridden a bike once in her life, around 8 years ago.  So, getting her on the bike and from the shop in the city center to the Cascine was difficult.  It was a challenging but very reasonable tour, because she simply had a hard time being on the bike for more than a minute or so.  Bottom line is that other than chasing down the kids who wanted to go fast and keeping the group together and safe, everyone was very nice, agreeable, and did their best to have a good time.  I told Carla, the 15 year old, that I was impressed that she stayed with it, kept a good attitude, and persevered to have a good time.  It was impressive that she hung in there.  It is not easy getting a group out of the city center when they are good cyclists.

Overall, 45.4 kilometers in 2:50 with 307 meters of climbing.  More today with Don and Kay!

Kay looking at the flowers and the views beyond at Piazzale Michaelangelo.

Awesome tulips at Piazzale Michaelangelo.

Don and Kay climbing together toward Vacciano, right before I turned around.