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  1. #1
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    September in Tuscany - Warning - Pic Heavy!

    Sorry it took so long to post these. I road this from September 4 through the 19th. I took over 2000 pics and its been hard to get them edited and reduced in number! One of the rides that will leave a good mark in my memories took place for me in September. My wife and I decided to ride (or zig zag ) across Tuscany over about a two week period. It was an organized ride through a touring group that focuses on "adventure" type vacations. I was pretty doubtful at first due to the total cost of everything, but boy am I glad we did it.

    This picture post covers the first three or so days. We started in Bologna and ended up in Siena zigzagging through the Chianti Mountains outside of Florence before heading into the Monti de Chianti. We stopped at so many little towns for wine or coffee that I don't remember all of them, but I know this pics include a stop in Montemarciano, an awesome medieval town at the top of a mountain (all our rides always had plenty of mountain tops to visit!). We had cappucinos (sp?) on the edge of cliff overlooking the Val D'Arno under a giant fig tree next to a church. I. Talking about awesome stuff. We then climbed up to the town of Loro Ciuffenna where we had lunch. We then doubled back to Dan Donato before heading over to Siena the next day. The route was awesome, the horse flys horrible, and the scenery beyond belief. Outside of the horseflys (I clocked these things at up to 28km/hr and they were still keeping up and able to land on me!)

    It's hard to describe everything so I thought I'd let my overly numerous photos do the majority of it. Quick note, the guy holding up his arm with all the blood is my friend Ken. He and three others went down in the first mile of the first day due to slick roads and new tires covered in mold release. Unbelievable. They went down in succession with a crunch. Lots of roadrash and bruises but nothing too permanent. The bottles were from a restaurant that we asked to see his wine cellar. The guy was unbelievable. Thousands of bottles of wine rotting and going bad down there. Oh the humanity!
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    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  2. #2
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    Over the Mountains and Through the Woods

    The passes and climbing were my favorite part. The temps were in the low 80's with large thunderstorms in the evening that helped to cool things down for sleeping. Although ultimately we would end up on the island of Elba, right now I was only thinking that horseflys were the most evil creatures on earth and where the hell was the next wine stop! Luckily lunch was always there waiting and there were lots of towns in between where I could at least get a caffeine fix to keep me going. Riding through the towns brought many new challenges, but luckily the Italians and million German tourists were pretty good at watching out for us hapless American tourists. But honestly, the people we met were probably some of the nicest people I had ever run into. I couldn't understand 99% of what they were saying, but the arm waving and smiling seemed to work.
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    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  3. #3
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    Getting closer to Siena

    Day three was the classic ride through the Chianti countryside. We rode through the main Chianti wine region and through the Monti di Chianti. The route went up the Passo Sugame which was a switchback climb up through some impressive forested hills. At the top we stopped for refreshments and dodged the hordes of horse flies that would plague us on several of the rides over the next couple of days. These suckers are tough and fast, and when they bite you'd think their mouths had flames attached. For the fun of it Brian and I were able to track them up to 28km per hour on the bikes before they began to fall off. Made it a bugger when climbing the slow steep roads. We descended into Greve for cappuccinos and then climbed up to the village of Panzano. Lots of great views of vineyards and forests. We then climbed up to the Castellina in Chianti and took an extra loop to Radda. The climb to Panzano was hot and buggy but what a great view when we got to look up at the town on the mountain. I took pictures of the riders below. For whatever reason I felt good this day and had broken away to climb ahead and snap shots of the other riders. We climbed up into the town to a beautiful church and lunch under a big fig tree and great views of the valley below. And then it was on to Siena!
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    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  4. #4
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    On to Siena!!!

    Siena is an awesome town situated on a series of small hills. The city is stacked up on itself and makes for quite the picture opportunities. As far as just wandering around this was one of my favorite places. Lots of tourists, but it was hard to beat the thrill of exploring all the little alleyways and hills. It also has the Duomo which competed with Florence with regard to making the fanciest church in the area. If you don't mind a few tourists, I highly recommend visiting this city and would happily do it again. The flags are for the various contradas, or districts that compete with one another within the city. Siena is famous for a horse race that takes place around the central plaza. 10 of the 16 districts are selected to race their horses around the plaza with jockeys attempting to hold on for dear life and not really succeeding too well at it. Riding through town is a challenge so don't say I didn't warn you! But, there are some great hill climbing routes through narrow alley's if you are into that sort of thing. The gellato, pizza, and wine is awesome stuff and fuels your climbing attempts.

    Anyway, if I didn't bore all of you to death with so many pics I'll post another section later next week. Got to say, even after two months I'm still in a slight depression looking out at our cold brown fall coming on. Tuscany is an addicting place. I didn't want to leave. . .
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    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  5. #5
    The view is the reward
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    > My wife and I decided to ride (or zig zag ) across Tuscany over about a two week period.

    Zig-zagging is the only way to do a bike/wine tour ;)

    > Quick note, the guy holding up his arm with all the blood is my friend
    > Ken. He and three others went down in the first mile of the first day due
    > to slick roads and new tires covered in mold release. Unbelievable.

    Wow, that's hard to believe. Hopefully, people weren't too jacked-up and rider error was not a factor.

    > But honestly, the people we met were probably some of the nicest
    > people I had ever run into.

    From my trip to Italy in 2002, I came to the same conclusion.

    > Anyway, if I didn't bore all of you to death with so many pics I'll post
    > another section later next week. Got to say, even after two months I'm
    > still in a slight depression looking out at our cold brown fall coming
    > on. Tuscany is an addicting place. I didn't want to leave. . .

    Reliving a trip while putting together a report makes you really appreciate it especially as the weather degrades at home. It's easy to get saturated on a good trip and not fully appreciate it until reviewing the evidence later. Post more when you start feeling depressed again.

    Good report and photos. Someday I'll order a Chianti in Chianti... your report is literally food for thought.
    Last edited by steephill; 11-08-2007 at 12:18 AM.
    steephill.tv bike travelogue

  6. #6
    MB1
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    Need more, more, more!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridgetop
    ....Anyway, if I didn't bore all of you to death with so many pics I'll post another section later next week. Got to say, even after two months I'm still in a slight depression looking out at our cold brown fall coming on. ..... . .
    Bored? Not a chance.

    That looks like an amazing vacation.

    Although this post does depress me because we wern't there with you.

    Do you have a link to the tour company?

    It looks like they supplied the bikes, yes/no?

    MB1
    Can't wait for more!
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  7. #7
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    Awesome!!!!!!

  8. #8
    duh...
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    fantastic... that's a great area to ride, esp if you like hills. that shop, not punto by chance?

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Those are excellent pics. Thanks for the post.

  10. #10
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    there is a building in the Fiddler's Green area of Denver Tech Center that is designed on this building...they use Tuscany in the name even I think. I have a nice 4x5 chrome of it somewhere.

    In any event...cool pix...love the wine cellar. Do they blow dust on the wine to make it look older?

    "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." -S. Hawking

  11. #11
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    It wasn't rider error in the crashes. We started out just as the sun was coming up and everyone was a little hyped on caffeine but little else. The bikes were brand new and we had just replaced all of the tires with brand new 25's. The road was the perfect Italian smooth road. I think the wax or whatever it is on the tires was the problem. None of these guys was even turning all that fast. Maybe 15mph in a turn that could handle double that. The worst was one of the women who went down. She and Ken both hit the curb under the guard rails.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  12. #12
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    I'll definitely post some more next week. The tour company is http://www.ciclismoclassico.com/. They have tours of all lengths for all different riding abilities. Our group was considered advanced and we all had lots of riding experience. There were a total of 18 people which I thought was going to be a problem at first, but after the first day or so everyone basically got strung out all over the place as they explored side roads and towns and whatnot. Worked great. The guides were local Italian riders and fantastic at their jobs. We weren't lacking for anything and if you wanted to break the routine they had no problem with that if you informed them. Highly recommended if you want someone else to create the routes and organize food and hotels. The bikes were 2007 Bianchis with Veloce and centaur parts if I remember correctly. They were included in the overall cost. Some people fedexed their bikes over too. The company held them until they showed up for the ride. Worked nicely.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  13. #13
    Bacon!
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    That wine cellar was amazing. Thousands of bottles of rotting wine going back before WWII. The guy liked the bottles and not the wine. Crazy.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  14. #14
    Bacon!
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    No, not Punto. This shop was interesting in that the prices weren't too bad. They were in a small warehouse in the middle of nowhere. Lots of expensive bikes covered in cobwebs. Made me laugh to see the spiders running around between the spokes.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  15. #15
    Seat's not level
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    Just post the other 1950 photos any time you want. Those you posted are great. I've never been there - yet, but it makes me want to go even more. Absolutely beautiful.
    Bad decisions make great stories - JP

    He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know. -- Abraham Lincoln, Unknown , Unknown

  16. #16
    Mess O'Potamist
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    Excellent trip and post!

    btw. How do you know the wine was rotting?

  17. #17
    duh...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridgetop
    No, not Punto. This shop was interesting in that the prices weren't too bad. They were in a small warehouse in the middle of nowhere. Lots of expensive bikes covered in cobwebs. Made me laugh to see the spiders running around between the spokes.


    hmmm, sounds like mondo bici. but that's near Umbertide

  18. #18
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    Ridgetop,

    Wow, the trip of a life time!

    I'm drained from looking at these beautiful pictures.

    I LOVE Mrs. Ridgetop's bike.

    Thanks for posting,
    Tshirt


  19. #19
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    The wine was improperly stored in a lot of situations so the corks had gone bad. All along the racks of wine there were little mounds of wine sugar from slowly dripping and drying wine. The place reaked of stale wine. Pretty sad to see all the wine goo leaking out of the bottles.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  20. #20
    crj
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    Awesome, Just awesome pictures. I agree, post the other 1950 pic's anytime.

  21. #21
    The view is the reward
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridgetop
    It wasn't rider error in the crashes. We started out just as the sun was coming up and everyone was a little hyped on caffeine but little else. The bikes were brand new and we had just replaced all of the tires with brand new 25's. The road was the perfect Italian smooth road. I think the wax or whatever it is on the tires was the problem. None of these guys was even turning all that fast. Maybe 15mph in a turn that could handle double that. The worst was one of the women who went down. She and Ken both hit the curb under the guard rails.
    It's fortunate for the riders involved and the tour company that nobody was seriously hurt. Did the tour company warn people about the lack of traction of the new tires before starting out?
    steephill.tv bike travelogue

  22. #22
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    Great snaps.

    It's really hard to take a bad photo in Italy, Spain or southern France. The light's just so great.

  23. #23
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    All of us should have known better including the tour guides. I think it was just the excitement of everything. The funny thing is that I had gone down moments before when I stopped to take a pic. I went to turn back onto the road and the bike slipped out from under me and dumped me in the grass. As I was getting up I thought what the heck? And then could see the shiney white all over the tires. I was racing to catch up and warn people when I came across the group sliding down the highway and bouncing off the curb and guardrail. It was a sick slow motion thing. Thankfully the guide stopped amazingly fast to stop traffic from coming around the blind corner. To make matters funnier (in a sick kind of way) a couple of tires detonated after the impact was already overwith. We were giving first aid to the riders when boom. . .booom! A few people thought we were being shot at. It was crazy to see people duck down. Just the tires firing off from the rims being damaged or something. Don't know.

    We all sat down as a group sans guides and talked about it. We decided to let it go unless someone had bad x-rays once they got back to the U.S. or something. We have all since signed off on it being "road conditions". But technically, if we pushed it, the company would have been at fault I think. Don't know really. They were such a fantastic bunch though I'm glad we didn't pursue it and I'm glad that no one was too seriously hurt.

    PS: If you want to watch grown men cry pour iodine solution onto their road hashed bare butt in the middle of an Italian road. . .ouuuuccccchhhhh!
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  24. #24
    I heart team Zissou!
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    Thumbs up Great memories

    I recognise a lot of the roads you road on -- esp. Passo d. Sugame and the first picture in the second set -- I think I stopped exactly in that spot to see if I could prolong my ride back into Impruneta!

    Looks like a good time was had by all - Italy is really wonderful. I just came back from work trip to Venice - and will probably spend a few days getting re-adjusted to life back in Paris.

    Did you ride on any strada bianca while you where there? They are a hoot!

    Wonderful pictures.....
    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  25. #25
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    I think you mean those limestone or gravel roads? We road some short sections that were pretty smooth and nice. Walked a lot of them and were told that the rock and brick work along some of the sides went back to Roman era but wasn't sure. We ate a lot of figs that were growing along some stretches though. Made for great walking.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

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