Saturday, 13 August 2011

San Gimignano

Made it! Gave up on the stored rides in my Garmin, as it doesn't seem to like following a previously mapped out route - it's a headstrong little bugger. So the idea today was to simply go from village to village on a pre-determined route. Certaldo (know my way there), San Gimi, then back via Ulignano and Barberino.

The climb up from oir house was tough again, but at least this time I knew what was coming, and I was soon on the long descent into Certaldo. This time I knew that I had to keep going into the centre to get across both the railway and the river.

From this point I set the Garmin to find San Gimi, but I also followed road signs when Garmin tried to take me up dirt tracks. There are unclassified roads here in Tuscany that would just be tracks at home, but the Garmin seems to think they're ideal for cycling on - I'm sure they are if you're on 32mm tyres and a touring chainset, but on 53-39 and 23mm tyres they're a no-no.

In the end the main road was fab - perfect road surface, about five miles of steady climbing and stupendous views. Near the top I was passed by three lads with San Gimignano tops on, so I hitched a ride to the roundabout just below the village. I didn't see a convenient caff, so I turned for home straight away after a couple of pictures.

The descent down to Ulignano was stunning, and necessitated several photo stops looking back up to San Gimi.

Back down in the valley they're building a new trunk road from Empoli down to Siena, so the road looks nothing like the map, with new roundabouts and bridges, but eventually I was on the right road. A stiff climb (particularly on 39-26) up to the little village of Vito, then an undulating ride to Barnerino and I was back on home territory.

A final bump down the track to home saw 32 miles on the clock and about 3,100' of climbing - but apart from the track up from home and the graunch into Vito it was nearly all in a continental style, so generally easy angled and great road surfaces. Cracking holiday cycling.

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Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tuscany ride number 1

Arrived in Tuscany after the smoothest journey imaginable on Tuesday. The place we're staying is fab - quiet, scenic and lots of room. And wifi! With three ipod touches, two keen facebookers and me in the family it's becoming the next "must have", along with dishwasher, pool, and convenient bike hire.

Speaking of which, a nice man called Paulo turned up yesterday with a carbon Trek US Postal bicycle yesterday - full Ultegra groupset, Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels - perfect, apart from the full size chainset...

Now our rural idyll is down a km of track - alternates dirt and tarmac, with some steep bits - so the first section of today's ride was death on a stick. With 28 degree temperatures and baking sun, anything steep was going to be hard work.

Fortunately after the gnarly introduction I had about 10km of downhill. I had planned a route to San Gimignano, going via Certaldo, but unfortunately I've not got the hang of getting a route into my Edge 800 without it changing the route to one it prefers - so on the outskirts of Certaldo it ordered me to turn left up an unsurfaced road. Bog off, thought I, and carried on, reckoning I knew where to go. In Certaldo the Edge got very confused, so I decided to follow my nose and see where that got me.

Nowhere, was the answer... After setting the GPS to take me to San G, after another 5k or so I realised that instead of my planned 30 miler it was going to be nearer 40, so another change of plan saw me heading back towards Barberino val di Elsa, which I knew was on the way home.

Despite the navigational challenges, the scenery was classic Tuscany, with rolling roads, olive groves and vineyards everywhere. The climbs, whilst tough in parts didn't feel that long, although having checked afterwards I was going generally uphill for about 10 miles coming back.

A flick through the local "big city" of Tavarnelle and I was soon heading back down the rough road to our house, with 20 miles on the clock and a far better idea of where to go next time!

San Gimignano or bust, I reckon...

Monday, 8 August 2011

Pre-holiday week - but at least there's some running!

Bike to work: fail
Bike with the club: fail
Four runs during the week: fail

Never mind - this last week was the last one before holidays, so there was lots to do at work.  Managed a 4 miler up to Halton East, with the legs at least feeling human, then a nearly-6 miler up in Gossie midweek.  Then I did nothing til saturday when young Lils decided she wanted to resurrect her Parkrun career, so despite an afternoon in the Scarboro Taps on Friday we were off to Bradford at 8:15 Saturday.

Lily worked dead hard, and was rewarded with a new PB of 26:00, so I reckon before long she'll be averaging 8 min miles if she puts some training in.

Off to Tuscany tomorrow morning, with a bike organised and four 30-40 mile routes in the Garmin.  If I can manage those plus a couple of runs that'll be probably the most exercise I've done in weeks!