Monday, July 27, 2009

Riding in Italy....

...doesn't suck. But first I had to have my road pedals installed. After the tennis shoe ride I looked at what was around tool-wise. Broken multi-tool and some type of snips.

This combo provided just enough leverage to get the mountain pedals off and of course install the road pedals (because they don't have to be THAT tight) and I could now be in full-on euro roadie mode.

Friday, July 17, 2009

G $ loose in Toscana

After we did Rome up right, we headed north on the Autostrada in the beemer 3-series and found that driving around 90-100 miles per hour was about right. Still some going slower and many going way faster. Thankfully unlike here people don't think its their God-given right to drive slow in the fast lane and not move out of the way. If you get in the fast lane you had better be going fast, or you better get the hell back in the slow lane quickly. Anyway, 2 hours later we exited the freeway and drove about 45 minutes on beautiful backroads to arrive at our home for a week San Giovanni d'Asso. Not a big place as the Tuscan hill towns go, but it had a store, cafe, restaurant, the classic Italian "general store"-a place with everything from appliances to toys to clothing, to batteries- all jammed in with no place to walk and in no order whatsoever- and was centrally located to many popular hill towns. The cycle I had arranged to use was already at the villa when we got there Saturday afternoon so I was eager to ride Sunday morning first thing. Only problem was the pedals on the bike-shimano spd mountain! I brought road shoes (white ones of course) and my speedplays. Couldn't believe I was in Italy with a Colnago that had mountain bike pedals AND Ultegra-no Campy in sight!! After unsuccessfully trying to use a 6mm on the backside of the spds-breaking my multi-tool in the process, I figured that I would go cruise Sunday am with tennis shoes and look for real wrenches Sunday afternoon or even Monday if nothing was open.

After a glorious ride on the best roads that I have ever seen, we loaded up and went to Arrezo about an hour northeast since on the first Sunday of the month there was an antique street market in town. Great things to look at and purchase along with great and classic European street scenes.

After the bottle of wine with lunch, I needed a pick-me-up and this may have been the best espresso of the week (it was all damn good).

Bike riding pictures are coming next, I promise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Team Ed d' ITALIA!!

Probably noticed the lack of posting for several weeks. My first time going to Europe happened so the week before (I always save things to the last minute), two weeks gone, and now finally ready to tell about the best vacation that I have ever been a part of.

First of all this trip was born out of wanting to do something special seeing as how my lovely wife is turning the big 4-0 this summer and I suggested something really good, more than just the traditional family beach trip. We started out with loose plans to visit the 4-corners, desert SW, rockies, Grand Canyon something like that trip, but at my suggestion I told her we should "throw down for real". Overseas was the answer with Italy, specifically Tuscany, being our final destination. Knowing the fam. was going and there would be alot to see and do, I knew that riding wasn't a number one prority, but that if I didn't ride at least once in one of the countries were road biking is King, it would be even worse than going to Durango and not mountain biking (which I have done and will be made up for in September!). Luckily, I knew that my family likes to sleep in, especially on vacation and that the sun comes up at 5:30 over there so riding and not interfering with everyone elses day was very possible.

Then the bike question. There are plenty of ways to rent bicycles in Italy and it ended up being easy to find something more than suitable. Our home for a week in Tuscany was about 35-40 miles south of Siena and fairly big town and the google search gave me a great bike shop that rented bikes, and would bring it and pick it up from the villa. Perfect. In the mean time, a long-time fabulous customer of the shop's knew of my trip because I had asked him questions, knowing he has been there several times, offered my his travel bike which was an older Tammaso, that he has SandS couplings installed on. So, Italian bike that fit me AND fit inside checkable luggage. He insisted that I take it and I will never forget this unbelievably kind gesture. I had to decide though, now I had two bikes at my disposal and I wanted traveling to be as smooth as possible and I just had a feeling that the car we were renting might not be big enough for another suitcase, plus rolling one more bag around the airport didn't sound fun either.

I must have known something. (more on that later)

Flew out of k-town to Detroit rock city, then to Rome. Spent three incredible days right in the middle of it all, did Vatican City, Colusseum, ate dinner at the steps of the Pantheon-pretty incredible to be among so much ancient human history. Took a few bicycle related shots from Rome-things that catch your eye as you walk around.

Bianchi on the streets of Rome.

Bike sharing bicycles neatly lined up ready to go. (came back through later in the day and they were ALL gone and being used)

Night time street scene near where we stayed, this is right at foot of the "Spanish steps".

MUCH much more to come, namely Tuscany, but that will have to wait until another day.