Matt Wathen, my friend from Grizzly Peak Cyclists in Berkeley, and I thought that we would be the only ones riding the long route from the hotel to Volterra. Because I had done the first part of the ride a couple of years ago, Matt was confident that I knew the route out of town. I wasn't so sure so we managed to corral 7 more riders to help navigate. The rest of the group rode to the train station and took the train to an intermediate point on the route.
The day started out warm and got warmer as we climbed up past Piazza Michael Angelo where we stopped for a photo op. We had a couple other regroups in the first few kilometers especially when we discovered that we missed a turn. So much for my route knowledge. Fortunately we had maps with us and could see a good alternative route. It turned out that this new route cut 6 kilometers from our day which was welcomed because of the tough climbs during the last part of our ride. After we missed our turn, Jim and Jennifer, the tandem couple, decided to double back to get on the correct route. That left 7 of us in our group.
We stayed together until we reached the first hard climb of the day. It was getting pretty warm so we welcomed a brief rain shower that cooled us off. It was here where we met the rest of the riders who had taken the train from Florence.
At the top of the climb, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. It was after noon and we were getting hungry and tired so we needed fuel and a rest. We ate lots of pasta and drank lots of water.
After lunch, our group really split up. We had a long, fast downhill and then a long, slow climb up to Volterra. I reached the Hotel San Lino around 3:00. The van was not there to greet us with our luggage until 5:00. Tom Leever had some trouble with it and had to go back to Florence for an exchange. Waiting for him, we lazed around the hotel watching the Giro d'Italia and snacking. Some of us took a shower and put on our used cycling gear. I had to fight off some of the worse leg cramps that I have ever had. This reenforced the feeling that I was not quite ready for a multi-day tour.
Once Tom arrived, we were back on our daily schedule. Happy Hour was at 6:00 and dinner was at 7:30. We went out for gelato afterwards.
The day was filled with fun and comradery. It was a difficult ride, though. The scenery while riding on the ridges was beautiful.
This was the day’s route.