Hey bike fans!
Our first two days of riding in Italy are complete, and they've been amazing! We arrived in florence without any travel snafus and amazingly our tandem box fit inside the first taxi we tried. It was a tight squeeze! Soon after I was unboxing and building bikes on the sidewalk outside our hotel. Our plan is to leave the bike boxes here and retrieve them before flying out again next week. Pizza and beer at a sidewalk cafe and we hit the sack to catch up on the jet lag.
The next morning we rode thru the center of the the city to meet John Weissenreider at his workshop. John is an old mountain bike racer from Boulder who now lives in Florence and makes his living as a Luthier, a master guitar maker. John went over the maps with us and highlighted some routes for the week ahead. He's ridden and guided on these roads for years, so his advice was key. Best of all, he jumped on his city bike and joined us for the first 10k of our ride, leading us on a twisty escape to the countryside south of the city. We followed him up cobbled alleys and secret roads we could have never found by ourselves. We pedaled thru Batoli's home village and John pointed out faded graffiti that read " viva Bartoli" from decades before. He finally turned us loose and we headed into the famed Chiante region. The next 2 hours of riding were amazing, both scenic and difficult. John had sent us off the main roads, and that meant incredible climbs, narrow lanes, and few cars. After climbing for over 30 minutes in the granny gear, I no longer doubted all the warnings about the steep Tuscan hills!
Soon we arrived in Panzano in Chianti, home for the night. A small B&B with home-cooked dinner was our reward for a hard day on the bikes.
Day 2 we kept riding south on some of the best roads I've ever enjoyed. No traffic, great pavement, awesome scenery, and plenty of steep climbs. We passed thru Radda, and rode portions of L' Eroica, an epic course and tribute to the riders of the last era. Tomorrow we ride more of the course and some famous strada bianca dirt roads.
Tonight was mixed emotions, we watched the sad Giro tribute stage, and felt very grateful for our families and many special days on the bike. We'll ride tomorrow with more appreciation for life.
Til then, Pete