Sunday 13 April 2014

Riding in Tuscany

Every other year my place of employ offers its clients the opportunity to travel abroad. For every six clients who take up the offer, requires one staff member to chaperone the group on the journey. This year was a travel year, Italy was the destination, and I was one of the chaperones. (This was my second time to Italy, the first trip being in 2009.) As the itinerary sort itself out for this trip it appeared that there would be a morning into early afternoon window while we were staying near Florence. I began to dream. I began to seek bike rental shops. I began to look at maps.

As often is the case with the best laid plans, they don't often reach their potential until the last moments. The major hurdle was to find a bike in Florence or near the hotel. This might seem a completely reasonable task, given that Italians are know to be somewhat mad about biking. For me however bridging the language barrier and securing a quality road bike for a specific date and time proved to be a bit of a challenge. I'm sure it's the case that not every little bike shop in Italy is online. Fortunately for me was online and they took my late registration for a full carbon bike. Here's the shop, at 54r Via San Zanobi, just four blocks from the Duomo!

Between email and a linguistically generous phone call or two, I ended up with this full-carbon Williers (46 Es for the day),

and this map (actually three: one to get me out of the city, one to get me to Impruneta, and one for the rest)!

The route as described by the super helpful and friendly staff of Florence By Bike should have been 77 kms, but I managed to detour, get lost, get help, get lost again, get help, get lost again, get more help, get lost once more, and get still more help from patient, friendly Italians, and stretch the ride to 85 kms.

The weather was good, 14'C and overcast. The riding was fantastic, rolling hills, some climbs as long as 5 kms and as steep as 10%, and orchards and vinyards all around. My pics aren't great, but here they are anyway. 

At 2:30 pm I road in to Piazza de le Signoria, sat down at the Cavalinio restaurant, ordered a Peroni and a Margarita pizza and thought, what a lucky boy am I!