Saturday, February 28, 2015

Futa, Giogo, and a couple of smaller passes on a great team ride.

Up for the team ride this morning, and Zanobi was there and asking me if I would ride a longer version of the planned ride with him.  I said I would think about it, and ended up doing the ride with him and Roberto, whom I had seen on Facebook, but had not met or ridden with before, although he joined the team a few months ago.  We started by wandering around to find Calenzano, as it did not appear anyone really knew the way.  I did not, but at one point, I was sure I had been in the area and thought if we made a turn it would be shorter.  I followed the people leading, as one was a ways ahead, but looking at the maps later, I was right.  Eventually, we were on the road to Croci Calenzano, our first real climb of the day.  We stopped around the start of the climb to regroup, and I removed a layer and changed gloves.  By the time I was ready to go, everyone had departed a few minutes ago, but it was fun to pick almost all of them off as we climbed to the top.  A nice descent toward Barberino, then all but 4 of us decided on the shorter option for the day.

That left 4 of us climbing Passo della Futa, and Zanobi was first by a couple of minutes after we rode together most of the way.  He is a young, I think 25 years old, strong athlete, who doesn't ride that much, but does a fair amount of running and racing.  Fun climb.  We waited at the top for the other two, and they were there in 10 to 15 minutes.  A nice break at the wonderful bar up there, run by the same family for 150 years.  One of the generations waiting on us today was a former pro cyclist in the 50's who rode with both Coppi and Bartali.  Kind of neat to have the cycling history everywhere here.  Filippo decided to return home from there, leaving 3 of us to do the unscheduled long ride.  We descended to Firenzuola, then climbed Passo Giogo.  I love the area over there and I only get over there 4 to 6 times a year, so it is always special.

A very nice descent from Giogo to Scarperia where we found a fountain for more water.  From there, we pushed to the base of the Vetta alle Croce climb with Zanobi leading the way and dropping Roberto and I around 2/3 the way up.  Roberto stayed right we me, and we finished the day's last climb together.  Not super fast, but a very reasonable pace, which surprised me, as I was pretty tired at the start of the climb.  A wonderful descent down Faentina home finishing an excellent tour today.  126.0 kilometers in 5:25 averaging 23.2 kph with 2076 meters climbed.  Sweet!

Most of the team at the top of Croci Calenzano, our first climb, but
relatively short and easy - around 450 vertical meters at 5%.

Passo della Futa, a new sign, without stickers, yet.  First
big climb and pass of the day.

This restaurant / bar at Passo dell Futa has been owned and operated
by the same family for 150 years.  Three generations serving us today.
The oldest was a pro and rode the big tours with Coppi and Bartali.

Top of the last hard climb, one easier climb left, with a slightly
sticker filled sign for proof of today's effort.  This is a sunny spot,
so there was a fair amount of snow in places in the shade.  None
on the road, though.

A look back toward Firenzuola from Passo Giogo.  Look hard 
and you can see the beautiful road, and yes, that is snow.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Another great ride in Chianti.

Spring is definitely coming.  Only two layers worn today, and I never took the vest out of my pocket. Also, just a headband and no skull cap needed.  It isn't really all that cold here, but riding can get cold as you create a pretty good breeze as you ride.  Either way, as spring arrives, it still feels like a burden is being lifted from your shoulders.  Soon, I will be down to one layer and shorts without tights.  Not now, but hopefully soon.  Anyway, it is a spectacular time to be riding.  I really like the weather when it is very comfortable, but there is no real danger of getting hot.  I think I have a few months of this coming up.  I am looking forward to it.

I decided to do one of my standard "Chianti" tours today.  This is one that I often take clients on, as it can be expanded or shortened.  Also, it is really beautiful and you ride through vineyards and olive groves, pretty representative of the agriculture here.  A nice stop in Impruneta for a cafe and pastry.  The pastry was really very good today.  Hopefully this is a new either supplier or chef for this bar, as I often stop here, and excellent pastries are always a plus.  The bike is performing super right now, acting like it is a new bike, which the mechanic said it basically was yesterday.  I found myself spacing out a little on one part of a descent and I almost went off the road at speed.  As they say here, sta attento! or pay attention!  No harm, no foul, but the bike with new rubber is really cranking fast on the downhills.  I returned going by the spot where Machieavelli was exiled to, San Andrea in Percussina, which I don't often ride these days, and it was fun.  Back through Tavernuzze from there, then past Piazzale Michaelangelo and home.  Excellent ride!  61.0 kilometers in 2:46 for an average of 22.0 with 965 meters climbed.  Ciao.

The soil just looks incredibly fertile.  Here just above Vacciano.
Beautiful, "Colorado" blue sky day.

Coming up to San Gersole, this beautiful view awaits.  One of 
my favorites, it never get's old for me.

Nice villa and vineyards on the way to Bibbione.

Love the views in virtually all direction on the ridge between 
Montefiridolfi and Bibbione.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Consuma in February, a little chilly at the top!

It has been a couple of days, as I spent two days driving and taking notes while reviewing the route descriptions for the "self guided tours" Dominick does.  I often meet people and start them on their way for this offering, and actually, I really like this work.  It is usually only a few hours at the most, and then I am at a good place for a solo tour.  The review and revision of the route descriptions was much more work than I thought when I accepted it, but it was good to do.  There are 7 days worth of route descriptions with most days having between 2 and 3 options.  So, lots of driving and checking to do if you want to do a thorough job, and those of you who know me would understand, I am thorough if nothing else.  Anyway, happy to have this completed, although I have heard that I need to do the actual revising of the files and need to go to their office to do this, but that is fine.  I don't really have any other work at this time.

Today, I caught up with a few things, then picked up my bike, which was in for a major check up.  As I thought, a new chain and new cassette were in order, but to my surprise, a new bottom bracket was also needed.  I have put over 40,000 kilometers on the cassette and the bottom bracket, so it should not be a surprise.  Totally cleaned, and as the mechanic said, "equale a nuova bici" or like it is new.  The drivetrain worked perfectly, and it was nice to get this work done, as I knew it was needed.  My last chain change took some time to work itself in, a sure sign that a new cassette was needed soon.

I decided to ride to Passo della Consuma, the biggest close pass to town.  It starts with a very gradual climb to Pontasieve, around 20 kilometers with 100 meters of elevation gain.  Then with a couple of kilometers of a break around 3/4 the way up, you have 16 kilometers with 1000 meters of elevation gain.  A good climb.  The weather is looking like it will continue to be warmer, but when you add over 3000 feet of elevation, it was quite cold for cycling at the top and my descent / climb to Vallombrosa.  I had extra clothing, which was all used, but did not bring heavier gloves, so my hands were the only thing that felt frozen into one position.  After Vallombrosa, you descend to Tosi, then through Paterno to Pelago, and it warmed completely by Pelago.  I even took off the neck / ear warmer there, and it was even warmer as one descended to the Arno river valley and back to Firenze. I had not ridden this pass since last fall, so it was good to get up there.  A good, hard, fun ride.  What more could one ask for.  83.0 kilometers in 3:47 rolling time for an average of 22.0 kph with 1326 meters of climbing.

A picture from my recon of routes for Dominick yesterday,
from the town square in Casole D'Elsa, in the Siena area.

Every time I climb Passo della Consuma, I have to take this picture.
I love the way the signs at passes are covered with stickers.  

The sign on the way down toward Firenze, which is the one you
can see the writing on. I like the other one with the stickers better.

Looking to the East toward Stia from Passo della Consuma.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Beautiful ride to the North and East. Just what I needed today.

Party yesterday, and two days of route scouting ahead, so I found time for a very nice ride today.  I had not been through Santa Brigida and Doccia in a while and decided to do that ride.  I went up through Pian de Mugnone to Fiesole, as I always try to vary my routes, and with all the options available, it can be done here.  Beautiful ride pretty much the whole day.  I started to write it was great on one piece, but really, it was wonderful all day.  I needed this as I heard from a very old college friend who has successfully battled cancer twice, once with Emily and I very involved as caregivers, wrote that it has returned.  It was hard not to simply cry, as he has gone through so much and just keeps trying.  He also wrote to a group from our college fraternity telling our very close group what was happening and eloquently wrote about how lucky he felt to have such a good close group of friends for around 45 years now.  We will support him as much as possible.

Anyway, I needed a good ride to raise my spirits, as bad, negative feelings will not help anyone.  I love that the bike almost always makes me feel good.  Great cafe and pastry in Rufina at Leif's favorite place.  Love the climb to Diacetto from Rufina.  75.9 kilometers in 3:25 to average 22.1 kph with 1332 meters climbed.  Send healing thoughts and prayers to my friend Steve in Denver.

Monteloro seen on the way to Santa Brigida.

This view is just after riding through the tiny town of Fornello.

Such a beautiful road and view just before Diacetto.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fast, hard Saturday team ride.

It was a surprise to see blue sky when I awoke yesterday, but it was pretty much gone by the time I met up with 5 from the team and we started our ride.  A good sized group for this time of year, and we set off toward Montelupo, but detoured to Grilliao as the skies were threatening.  With the make up of the group, I was thinking a mellow pace for the day, so, as we started up Grilliao, I pushed the pace for the climb and enjoyed really cranking it up there.  I figured we only had a couple of climbs, so why not push one or two, then ride more socially up another?  We rode into Bacciano, the up to Montagnana, then we split up, with 2 opting for a shorter tour, and 4 of us going longer.  We took the pace much faster now, and rode to San Pancrazio, where I thought we would turn down to Ponte Rotto, but we continued along the ridge toward La Romita.  I was still thinking we might take a short cut down to the valley, as there are a couple of options before Romita.  So, I purposely let Davide and Leif go a little ahead, but they started cranking it, and there was no way I could catch them to stay.  It is interesting how easy it is to loose touch with a group going faster, then not be able to get back.

Luigi pretty much stayed with them, then eventually dropped as well.  They were only a minute or so ahead at Romita, as we could see them most of the time.  I rode in with Luigi, then we all descended together to the valley.  We had a very nice tail wind, and I started in the lead.  After a few minutes, Davide came around me, and I gave it a try, but did not have it to stay with him.   Leif and Luigi stayed with him, and I just let it go.  Eventually Luigi was dropped as well, and I think they were only a couple minutes ahead, so when we started the climb to San Casciano, I pushed my pace.  I quickly passed Luigi, but never saw Leif and Davide until the top.  They had only been there a couple of minutes, but I had hoped to catch them with my stealth climbing push.  Fun anyway to give yourself a good push, and good for me to be dropped for a change instead of doing the dropping.  Challenges motivate us all.  It started sprinkling on the way to San Casciano, but never even made the roads really wet.

We descended to Scandicci, and there some real rain had happened.  The roads were quite wet, and we pushed it into town, where they were even wetter with some standing water.  Good timing as we did not really have any rain on us to speak of, just the very wet roads on the return.  Fun morning, but with the clouds and the pace I did not take any pictures.  Below is a better picture from the same area, which I like better anyway.  83.0 kilometers in 3:19 to average 25.0 kph with 958 meters climbed.  Ciao a tutti!

Not from yesterday's ride, but I think from the same area, looking at the
hills of Chianti defined by the haze and fog.  Cloudy, sprinkles, and a 
killer pace for much of the day left me with no pictures from 
the team ride yesterday.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Another nice day to ride in Chianti.

Another great day to ride, but with lots happening, new tires for the bike one of the things, my time was limited.  When I cleaned the bike yesterday, I examined the tires, as I was occasionally hearing something that seemed to come from the back tire.  There were a couple of worn spots, one in particular that looked dangerous in the long run.  So, before riding today, I went to the shop and bit the bullet to get new tires, and for a change, exactly what I wanted without regard to price.  They were a little pricy, but felt great as I rode today.  They also should last a long time, and after looking at all the reviews, and seeing what the pros are riding these days, I switched to 25's from 23's, which felt good.

I did a nice ride into Chianti, enjoying the climb through Vacciano and San Gersole to Impruneta.  Over to San Polo, then up one of my favorites to ride through Quarate and Capanuccia to Grassina, then home quickly.  Off to pick up Vitorrio now, then after babysitting, a concert tonight.  Ciao a tutti.

The tall grasses in seed frame this view to the south around Quarate.

Trees silhouetted above the vines on the way to Grassina.

View to the southwest on the way to Capanuccia.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spectacular day for a ride into the Mugello.

Simply a spectacular day to be out on the bike in the Mugello in Tuscany.  I picked a route I have been thinking about for a while, and I have ridden all the parts of the ride, but had never put them together in one ride.  Just a great day.  I went over to Barberino in the Mugello the most direct way, through Vaglia, to access the road from Barberino to around 1/2 way up to Passo della Futa.  This was the real road I wanted to ride today, and the rest was fitting it in with a good loop.  I had ridden this road around 4 times before, but had never found it on my own.  I found it pretty easily with no mistakes, which felt good.  It is a nice road of around 8 kilometers with a steady grade of 4 to 5% winding up along a hillside.  Always curvy, never steep, with great views to the West.  No wonder I like it.  After that, you get on Via Bolognese and ride it along a ridge, in places much steeper, to a cut off to Panna.  Often, I would go up and back to the pass, just 3 kilometers past the cut off, but today, I wanted to get back in plenty of time to get this done and be ready to go out tonight.

So, today, I took the cut off and went down, then up, then down through Panna to Galliano where I stopped for a cafe and pastry.  The fuel felt really great and I sat in the sun with a few Italians on lunch break from somewhere.  A group of 8 were playing cards inside, which is not uncommon in certain places with the older guys.  Lots of fun yelling, bantering, and laughter from the card games.  From Galliano back my normal way through Bosco ai Frati, another favorite road.  From there over to the climb to Croce alle Vetta, then down Via Faentina almost directly home.  Just a sensational, sweet ride.  91.9 kilometers in 3:57 to average 23.3 kph with 1540 meters climbed.  Ciao.

One of the views climbing from Barberino.

A view from the top of the hill, just above Panna on the way back.

One of the views from Via Bolognese on the way to Passo della Futa.

Beautiful road climbing to Passo della Futa.

Wow! spectacular views in every direction.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A headwind on the way home really kicked this old man's whatever around.

Really long day yesterday, leaving the house at 8 and returning home around 8.  For this retired (mostly) old man, that counts as a long day.  I spent the day renting a car and driving around 1/3 of the self guided routes for Dominick, whom I do guiding for.  I was checking the instructions we give to the people who do the self guided tours, whom I usually meet and get started riding with them to Impruneta.  After that they are on their own, and have maps and written instructions for all turns, etc. to get from place to place.  There are usually 3 options for each ride, so for me to check them, it means stopping after or just before a point where instructions are given, checking them, and editing them if needed.  It is actually tiring and makes for a long day.  I do get to see some beautiful bike routes, and am already signed up to do some van supported tours on many of these roads for this coming cycling season.  I have a couple of more days of doing this to complete the assignment, but it will probably wait until next week.

Today, I caught up with editing the notes from yesterday, went to the rental car place to pay for the rental yesterday, as I returned the car after closing, did some grocery shopping, and we had a plan to attend a lecture at 5:30, leaving me only 2 to 3 hours to ride.  I checked some Strava routes, and one of my new favorites was right there at 2-1/2 hours, so I did that ride.  Out Pistoiese to Seano, with a strong wind from the North or the side as I rode out there.  It even seemed at times that it was slightly a head wind, so I expected not to fight a head wind on the way home.  I went through Seano then climb through Bacheretto to the road above Carmignano.  Feeling good at this time, as I knew I had a tail wind for much of the climb.  Well, only when it turns head wind to you really realize how strong it perhaps was.  I fought a strong head wind most of the way down through Carmignano and Comeana to Signa, but then the head wind really set in for the ride back to Florence.  Much of the route is pretty open, and the wind just kicked my little whatever around on the way home.  I surprised myself by keeping an average of a little over 25 kph for the whole ride, as it really was a struggle on the way back.  The good part of the wind is the views were pretty amazing and the wind clears out any hazy skies.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a long ride.  Ciao.

On my day, long day, of route checking and recon yesterday for
Dominick, I walked the old town of Radda and had this view of
the church.  Really beautiful and great tower behind.  What
a beautiful place for cycling.

Looking to the east while enjoying a tailwind on the climb.

Looking to the Southeast on the climb to Bacheretto.

A quick look up the road toward Bacheretto.  Really a beautiful 
spot and beautiful road.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Excellent 3 hour ride between two days off the bike.

With collecting and printing all the information for what should prove to be an interesting work day tomorrow, I did not have that much time for a ride before my commitment of picking up grandchildren at school.  Tomorrow, I rent a car and review the route instructions for editing for 5 full days of riding.  Hope it will be accomplished tomorrow.  It is a little more work than I planned when I accepted the assignment, but the folks I am doing it for have really sent a fair amount of work my way for the coming season, so it is fine.  Today, I went to plan B, as time was limited to around 3 hours.  I did one of my favorite medium length rides, to Ponte a Ema, birthplace of Gino Bartali, up Via Carota to Osteria Nuova, then up to San Donato in Collina.  Average speed to San Donato was 21.4 kph, which I think is my second best effort by only 0.1 kph.  I was pushing it pretty hard, but it felt good.

I tried to back off after the climb, but sometimes you just go with what your body is telling you.  Nice ride on one of my favorite roads over to Bombone from Cellai, then down to Rosano.  Really an excellent pastry and cafe at a bar in Sieci, as the bar I had in mind just past Rosano was closed on Monday.  Perhaps today's bar will be used more.  I have been there a couple of times in the past and it has always been good and they are nice to me.  Just down from Sieci, I turn to climb to Croce alle Vetta thought Monteloro, which is what I had in mind when I went to plan B.  I had not climbed this in a while, and it was quite nice today.  Down Via Faentina through Caldine and Pian de Mugnone with a strong tailwind.  I earned it as I fought the headwind up Monteloro and at times between Cellai and Rosano.  Another great day on the bike, and after yesterday off the bike due to rain and tomorrow off the bike due to work, it was good to get out.  67.4 kilometers in 2:57 for an average of 22.8 kph with 1162 meters climbed.  Love it.

Looking North from the road to Bombone on another winter's day.

Beautiful view, a little cloudy, but not stormy, to the East
toward Castelfranco di Sopra.

Love this little road to Bombone, and this fun descent which just starts here.

New feature, based on my wife, Emily's, suggestion.  Bike of the month.
This was for advertising at a place called "Lolita's" on Borgo San Lorenzo,
in the center of Florence.  The lights were cooler in person.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day ride with the team.

Nice, late start, especially for the team, this morning, leaving Illiopesca at 10 am.  There were only 3 of us to start, but it was cloudy, a little chilly, and the middle of February.  On the way out to Lastra, Angnese, who lives in that area, was waiting for us and joined in for the ride.  That made a really nice group of 4 and we had a very nice ride.  I loved the route, as when we started, Davide and I discussed some options, as we rode most of the proposed route last week.  He was up for changing the plan, and suggested Montelupo and Montespertoli, and I then suggested Turbone from Montelupo to Montespertoli, which we rode.  It is a particularly pretty road, a good surface, but it does have a number of stretches at 15% or more.  Most don't last long, but they are as steep as they are, regardless of how pretty the ride is.  I like that kind of riding, and the other three went along.  Nice cafe in Montespertoli, which I bought, as I did get everyone to go where I wanted.

We all rode pretty hard through Montagnana then Cerbia up to Chiesanuova.  Davide and I really pushed each other up to Chiesanuova, and in the end he gapped my by around 15 meters.  Oh well, he is strong.  As we waited for the others at the top, I explained how Strava would tell me if this was my fastest effort, which it was.  However, there are 10 other times I was within  30 seconds of today's time on the same climb.  Kind of fun to check it out.  Sometimes I take riding for granted, but at one point today, when returning from Chiesanuova to Firenze, it struck me what a great thing it is to ride a bike.  It is super good for your body, joints, and I would say your mind and soul.  Also, it is just fun, totally non polluting, and the good road bikes are incredibly responsive and a blast to ride.  So, for me, a good, happy reminder of why I love it.  I really enjoy when these little flashes of inspiration hit me while riding.  72.7 kilometers in 2:51 for an average of 25.5 kph with 779 meters climbed.  Great day.

Surprise!  Wonderful Valentine's Day flowers were waiting for 
me when I returned from today's team ride.  Thanks, Emily.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Climbing! - My first training ride for this seasons races / events

Today was my first official training ride for the many granfondos and events I am scheduled to ride in this spring and summer.  Yesterday, I felt good pushing the pace for the first time in a while, and I thought today would be a good day to do some climbing.  All the events have quite a bit of climbing, on the low side of around 2000 meters to the high side of over 4000 meters of climbing.  So, my ability to climb will be key in how much I enjoy and how well I do in the events.  I had the route in mind from my training last year for the granfondo Firenze, and actually really enjoyed the ride today. It is partly cloudy today after 4 days of perfect sunshine, but it cleared a little as I summited Montesenario.  5 climbs and 5 descents with some climbing as steep as 25% made for an excellent work out.  A cafe at Bar Zocchi in Pratolino after the last climb of the day topped off a pretty perfect training ride.

The highest objective for today's ride, Montesenario.

View to the East on the climb to Montesenario.

One of the many 360 degree views from Montesenario.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sette Ponte on a perfect February day for a ride.

Another perfect weather day, and the way the temperatures are increasing to become really nice around mid-day, it is perfect for errands in the morning, then out for 4 to 5 hours around noon, which was my day today.  I decided on strada sette ponte, one of my favorite rides and one that I don't normally do this time of year.  I did decide to omit the climb to Tosi and descend to San Ellero from Donnini, as it looked snowy up toward Tosi, and I am pretty much into enjoying the warmth right now while it lasts.  It is totally the reason I did not go into the Mugello today, as it seems to always be a little colder there.  Anyway, excellent ride today.  Just fantastic weather, and a very nice cafe and snack at my favorite place in Regello.  I almost always stop there when I ride through there, and even though it is once a month at most, both the older woman and I would guess her daughter, who work there definitely recognized me and welcomed me today.  It of course was in Italian, and I am always a little uncertain of exactly what people say when speaking at a normal speed, but the welcome was unmistakeable.  I took a nice break there eating a panini in the sun and enjoying my cafe machiato.  What a great day and great ride.  95.0 kilometers in 3:51 for an average speed of 24.8 kph with 1227 meters of climbing.

I have been feeling a little slow the last month and one half, and my times have been showing this.  Today, I seemed to get a little of my speed back, and had my second fastest time to San Donato in Collina, averaging 21 kph from home to the top of the hill.  Good for me.  Ciao, a prossima.  (Bye, until next time)

Green fields in February on a beautiful day in the Valdarno.

My favorite picture of the day really captures this incredibly green field with the Chianti ridge
in the background.  This is just past the outlet fashion malls, and this beautiful, peaceful view presents an interesting contrast to the malls.  

I was trying to show in this picture how close the big, snow capped peaks on 
the Monte Secchiette ridge look on this ride in places.  This is on the way to Regello.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ravenna field trip and great spring like ride to Pinone.

Yesterday Emily and I joined her art history class for a day trip to Ravenna.  What a wonderful trip.  Ravenna has a very interesting history, really important in a very ancient way, and some of the best mosaics in the world.  What a treat!  You can even get quite close to the mosaics to really look at them.  Several of the people on the trip had been to Constantinople to see mosaics there and thought these were much better.  The class instructor / leader, Elaine Ruffalo does a fantastic job of leading, teaching, and putting these trips together.  Add in a fantastic lunch, really amazing, at a place where the owner is a fan of both "The big Lebowski" and the Grateful Dead, and you have a wonderful day. I had been told that drogha meant dude, and when I spoke with the owner about the movie, he corrected me to say drugha for dude, as drogha means drugs.  Always different things to learn.

Today, the weather turned just perfect and I think we must have hit a high of 60 or so.  First day in a very long time without booties, using my new toe warmers.  I took my new shell jacket, but did not even need to put it on.  I enjoyed a wonderful tour after a semi frustrating morning.  I spent a couple hours dealing with some business internet issues, which can become very frustrating for me if I don't know the appropriate sequence to push certain buttons.  I am sure most of you understand.  I spent another hour plus working on my rear brakes, as they have developed a rattle, and the cable was not releasing fully, so I basically took everything apart and cleaned it.  After replacing, it still did the same thing, so I tried again and did a more thorough cleaning.  I made it work this time.  a piece of something was lodged in the mechanism of the brakes, and it simply made it stick most of the time, but not all the time when the brake was released.  It was really nice having it work properly and not have the noise on todays ride.  It did not seem to really affect the operation of the brake before, but it was much smoother and the concern of a mysterious noise was gone.

I went out Pistoiese to Seano and averaged around 29 kph which for me is fast solo.  I enjoyed the climb through Bacchereto to the Pinone road and for the first time turned right and continued up to Pinone, then down through Castra to Montelupo.  I even saw my first wildflowers of the year on the way to Bacchereto.  Sweet.  I had the stretch from Montelupo to Cerbia and then the climb to Chiesanuova in mind when I decided on the ride, as I thought it would be a perfect spot to enjoy the warm sun in a relaxed way.  It was perfect.  After returning home, I had a nice hour on our terrace enjoying more sun.  Great ride, great day!  77.2 kilometers in 3:02 for an average of 25.4 kph with 823 meters of climbing.

I loved the different building pieces and juxtapositions
outside San Vitale.

Perhaps my favorite thing all day in Ravenna were the mosaics in
the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.  A beautiful small building, all to 
ourselves with amazing mosaics.  Really beautiful and very special.

Just another bell tower in Ravenna.  Most of the bell towers were
circular.  Ravenna was the western capital of the Roman empire 
for a short time after the collapse of Rome and the concentration of
the empire to Constantinople.  Amazing history of the twilight of the 
Western part of the Roman empire there.

Walking down one of the lovely small streets, I saw this townie bike
with it's own mosaics on it.  Cool!

The road above Bacchereto on the way to the road to
Pinone.  I love how many of these amazingly beautiful roads
there are to ride.  This one, however hit a little over 20% 
just around the bend ahead.

The first wildflowers of the season on the way to Bacchereto from Seano.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Work! Checking routes and descriptions for Dom in Chianti.

I set off to do some work today, not really knowing how it would work out.  Dominick has asked me to check the route descriptions we use for "self guided tours", which involves multiple options for each day.  My original plan was to borrow Kate's car for this, but her car died and a new one is on order, and I don't really want to ask her as soon as she gets it if I can borrow it.  So, I thought I would see how it would work on the bike.  It was fine, but it would take many days, and multiple very long rides.  Today, I put in 103 kilometers with 6 hours of elapsed time, and this was the first day going to Radda, and I only made it to Greve.  It did include 3 options from Impruneta to Greve, which accounts for much of the distance.  It worked fine, but with only 2 or 3 days budgeted to be paid to me, I think a rental car is in order.  Also, the next step would be from Greve to Radda, which would work, but be a long day, then a couple of options around Radda, which would mean a very long day, then a couple days checking routes around Siena, which would involve a train ride there and back, then riding and editing the options.

I came up with a number of minor changes, and will check into a rental car, which should allow me to complete the remaining work in one day.  Those cars really can put in mileage faster than a bike, and I can stop and make notes easier.  Oh well, I tried it and enjoyed it today.  Although it was only around 40 when I left, and I don't think it got above 50, the sun was shining all day, the riding and scenery was spectacular, and I was getting paid, at least a little, for riding in this.  What a treat.  I basically wandered around Chianti, checking the routes.  Around 6 hours elapsed time, though, so kind of a long day.  102.9 kilometers in 4:44 for an average of 21.7 kph with 1366 meters of climbing.  Great, beautiful day.

Here are three views above Chiocchio.  I love the scenic climb 
here, and what a beautiful day today, even if it was a little chilly.

Love the snow emphasizing Monte Sechetti in the background.
It looks like riding up there should wait.

Vineyards and the road below descending from Passo de Sugame,
a little over half way through the day.