This view from the "Cipollaio" climb (Stazzema, Tuscany) is why I got up and rode today. It wasn't the pressure I felt from the guys to get out, or to feel absolute pain, it wasn't me trying to prove something to myself... okay maybe it was that... but, I'd like to think that it really is the fact that I get to witness such natural wonders. Maybe that's the balance in more serious cyclists too. For those of us without major ego trips, a person can only read their spedometer and heart rate, or exchange a few body parts for new carbon bike parts before it just starts to feel like you're losing out on the really marvels that cycling can bring you.
Hanging out with a marbled mountain that provides the very posh Forti dei Marmi (Fort of Marble) with all of its wealth is pretty cool. So was doing this crazy "salita" (climb) last Sunday that brought us into a thick forest amidst hundreds of Italians camping in tents. Later, I learned they hunt for mushrooms there and store them all year or sell them for a cheap buck, er... euro.
So the climb we did today was not super steep, but the 13km I was told that it was ended up being 18km if you count the first false flat that we whipped around.
That's something I get annoyed with on these group rides: Why do we always speed up right before a climb? I mean, I understand if we knew there was like a really short, steep hill in front of us that we might want to go fast to catapult our bicycles up and chug less. That's human nature. But what about a long, pretty level climb? Is it absolutely necessary to be pushing up an obnoxious false flat just to slow down right when it gets steeper? I think not. I pulled back a bit from our group today and ended up sucked right into the middle of a group of leather. They were nice, but had inconsistent speed setters, so I eventually let them pass too, in order to get some physical - and mental - space from the strange mentalities of others who blow up before the climb starts or those who decide that leap frog is equally as efficient.
This tunnel is right at the top of the climb, and its actually another false flat. Today Phil said there was a line of six cars coming from the opposite direction, and that one of the cars didn't seem him coming with Krillo, so they tried passing in their lane. If you'll notice, it's pretty narrow... and I guess they had to leap onto the small walkway lining the lanes. I guess it doesn't surprise me. Sort of like it didn't surprise me today when two different cars hit their horns.
They must think we can't hear their bellowing engines coming from behind or in the opposite lane, so a loud honk makes them feel more safe. Who knows about the weird Italian driving mannerisms though. I have officially stopped caring to know why, and have moved onto figuring out the best way to deflect the irrational behaviors and laugh at them. So far, it's worked quite well. Except for the time I laughed at a guy's Pinarello curvy bike design (since I think they're ridiculous no matter how expensive they are). He didn't like that much. Oops. I guess I'm just obnoxious as they are, in my own way...
Time to go rest before an evening with Cristiano, Simona, and Phil in Pietrasanta. This week will be getting plans set for my travels home to the US the beginning of September, following the EuroBike show of course. I look forward to a lot this fall, and I'll keep my dear blog dialed into everything going on, so check back for more posts...
Ciao a tutti!