Saturday, August 22, 2015

Time in the Garfagnana

Well, it has been a couple of weeks, and busy weeks they were.  Emily and I took a break from Firenze just outside of Lucca outside a little town called San Quirico di Moriano.  We were at the same property last year, but in a different unit.  It is simply a beautiful area, very quiet, something we do not get here in Firenze, and the heat finally broke a couple days after our arrival.  When we were talking about timing for this break, I said to Emily we should just schedule it for when Kate and family are gone to France, as we can then use Kate's car without it being any problem.  Good idea, but I did not check the calendar, and I already had 3 days scheduled for tours while we were gone.  I added a private tour the morning before we left, then added another big group, my first work for clients of Kate's which made for 5 tours in the first 6 days we were there.  It is only an hour away, so a little commuting and a few nights here at our apartment by myself, and it was done.  All the tours went well, but I did not include pictures here.

An interesting thing is the communication piece with clients or their representatives prior to meeting and riding.  It really helps me plan an appropriate tour if I get accurate information.  With these 5 tours, I had some misinformation, but everything worked out.  First tour was a young (23) man who is very into triathalons and is finishing an engineering degree in Georgia.  He was pretty much exactly as described and he very much enjoyed our 3 hour tour.  Surprisingly, I was able to stay ahead of him pretty easily after the first climb.  The next day I took out some older newlyweds, in their early 40's, and there agency had sent many messages to Florence by Bike, then to me.  I wrote a description of the tour a few months ago, and they were described to me as avid cyclists and keen on a fast, hard tour.  They were nice folks, and we had a good tour, but they had no idea where the description came from.  I was expecting people with cycling kits, etc., and they came down with casual clothes, ready for an easy bike ride.  With a little scrambling, I changed the route and everyone ended up happy, although they were pretty beat when we returned.  

Another set of Newlyweds on a meet and greet, and they were quite prepared and would be fine for their 3 day self guided tour.  You never know with the self guided tours if the people are appropriate for this activity or not, but I just do my best to get them going safely and well.  Kate's group was pretty much fine, although when dealing with quite wealthy people, two vans, a tasting and a big lunch, there are a number of hoops to jump through.  All in all, at the end of the day everyone was happy, but around midnight the night before, they were changing the pick up time for the next morning.  Actually when they were on their bikes, they were really quite easy and motivated.  The last two people were a private tour through my company and we met at the apartment as they rented my extra bikes.  They were ready to go, with their own shoes, pedals and very nice kits.  Jan, the woman was quite fit, and I thought Rob would be as well.  Sometimes hills get to people differently, and around 2/3 the way up our first real hill of the day, Rob had had enough.  Another scramble, a change of tour, and Rob recovered enough to really enjoy the day, and Jan was totally fine.  I guess the moral is always be ready to change plans to accommodate the client's fitness and ability level.  

After finishing with Jan and Rob, I put together some additional things and was off to San Quirico di Moriano for 10 days.  Yeah - real vacation.  We rented a nice 1 bedroom apartment that is part of a larger villa where the owners live.  Last year we rented a separate unit, which was an old small barn / pigsty.   We loved the unit this year, although there were lots of mosquitoes, which don't bother Emily at all, but get on me if I am in any kind of range.  I rode daily, and very much enjoyed the riding and the terrain.  I had ridden 14 days last year here, so I knew many of the roads and places I wanted to go.  I got in all my favorites for the area, and even discovered some new roads.  It is just an amazingly beautiful area and place to ride.  The ride descriptions, quite brief will be with the pictures.  Hopefully, I will find the energy to update the blog at least weekly, but if not, I do post pictures on my company Facebook page after every ride.  It is just easier.  

Before settling in for my 10 days, I had a Monday morning ride before an rappointment at the Questura to pick up my Permesso.  I checked a couple of spots I really like and was not disappointed.  What a beautiful place to ride, and this spot is only a 1/2 hour from the apartment with around 200 meters of climbing.  

My first real day, full ride, in the area included a climb from Villa Basillica to Pizzorne.
It is a particularly difficult climb and around 1/2 way up there is this beautiful carved 
crusifix.  I am not religious, but it seemed to be a station of the cross, considering the location.

Another day, on the climb above Pescaglia, you get a view back down on the 
600 or so meters of climbing already done.  This shows some of the sweet,
switchbacking road with the town of Pescaglia 1/3 the way up.

A shorter day, and a day of exploring, found some new roads.  This 
new pavement was only around 8 feet wide and was a two way road.
Luckily, I saw no traffic.  Sweet ride and an excellent day.

On the way back from the exploring, which included 3 climbs up and 
over the same basic ridge, this nice view shows some of the hills
just ridden.

On the way to Pruneta, around 1/2 the way up from La Lima, this
little town is off to the side.  Pretty view.

Nice sky, color, and church in Pruneta.

One day, I rode to the beach in Viareggio.  Nice day and nice ride. 

A pretty big loop, but lots of exploring on tiny roads.  Beautiful little 
town of Domezzano.

One day, off in a different direction, I encountered this Roman 
aquaduct, really beautiful.  I climbed Monte Serra this day, which 
includes a difficult climb from Sant Andrea, with 5 kilometers at
around 10%.

My last day riding, I ventured up to Passo Lucese, a beautiful
climb and road before joining some tiny roads to return home.

The church in Domezzano on the way home, riding from the 
other direction or from Passo Lucese.

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