September 2013 Italy Trip: Day 7 Bellisimo!

Day 7 was a spectacular riding day. We moved into a different part of Tuscany. One with fewer trees but many more views. It was similar to the terrain you see when driving to Yosemite in Northern California but with more hills and not as hot. Before riding we had breakfast at Borgo Scopeta – our best breakfast of the Backroads trip. The difference maker? Tastier eggs (scrambled with olive oil) and fresher bread – in fact the wheat loaf was still warm. Nutella in plain yogurt is darn good too once again proving that everything is better with Nutella.

The Route: 82km or 50 miles or rolling hills with a large climb to Montalcino near the end of the day. There were rollers leading up to lunch that had huge grades. 15 and 20 percenters with a few nearly requiring my ‘granny’ front ring. We had our morning espresso break at a town near the autostrada (think interstate but much narrower). Eddo, our Italian guide referred to this town as the town that God abandoned. Lunch was prepared for us at an Abbezia (an abbey) atop a large hill. The climbing to the abbey was challenging. The last climb to the abbey lunch spot was steep and the location of my first wreck of the trip. I shifted late and my front derailleur jammed. When I went to unclip I couldn’t do it faster than my bike was falling. In fact my bike rolled backwards, I fell to the right side, hit my right hand hard, the the bike toppled over me while I was still clipped in, my helmet hit hard and all the while I think I was cursing. A sore right hand, scraped up left shoulder, dented helmet and a very bruised ego were luckily the extent of my injuries. After lunch Cindy decided to ride the full day (50 miles instead of 30) which included a nasty 8k climb to the town of Montalcino. The drop into Castello Di Velona was spectacular. I averaged 50km while drafting the Backroads van for a few kilometers – it is serious fun to ride that fast!

Highlights and Observations:

  • Montalcino is a must-see town when visiting the Tuscan region. Consists of several alleys with great enocetas (wine stores), pastry shops and restaurants.
  • Long climbs with long descents make then climbs so worth the work.
  • Juice in Italy is better. Their smoothies in a carton are also great.
  • Abbeys are cool – monks may be on to something – at minimum they get how to own land.
  • Pizza and calzones in Italy are divine. Mushrooms in truffle sauce will make both even better.
  • The cannoli I ate in Montalcino was the best one I have ever tasted.
  • Cindy and I had a great day of riding together. I think I’m out of the doghouse.
  • I think Cindy may want to ride a bike more when we get home.
  • I have never stayed in a hotel as nice as Castello Di Velona.

Click here for a brief slide show of Day 7. Buono Cera.

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