Lunch and view
The descent from the top featured 17 switchbacks i.e. 180 degree turns with steep terrain. Bill insisted that each team have the brakes checked by him or Wolfgang prior to descent. The descent was technical as promised and we enjoyed the challenge.
We returned to the hotel and laid by the pool. What a perfect day and Elba was exactly what we came to Italy for. Our legs felt great.
Elba to Volterra:
After the ride talk, it was another climb over the ridge and then a long steep, fast descent through town to the ferry. We arrived at the ferry and we walked our bikes on the ferry, laid them down below deck and off we went to the mainland.
Loading the ferry
At the mainland, we received further directions. This route was relatively flat at the start and culminated in a 6 mile Category 1 climb to the walled city of Volterra. We decided to let the field go ahead and string out. We and Sevenrider began to pass the long string of tandems until we came upon a couple teams that wanted to join us in a pace line. This was a fairly flat area and we cruised along without any problem. At the half way point, we had lunch at a beautiful restaurant.
We left the restaurant with Sevenrider and we headed on to Volterra. Right before the start of the 6 mile climb, we had a cappuccino to get ready for the climb and refill our water bottles.
The climb was long and relentless. One could see the walled city at the top but with each turn and switchback, there was more road and more turns.
We arrived at the top and entered the walled city. As we approached our hotel, we heard someone say to us, “hey Webcor, Mara is racing today.” There was a women’s pro race with one of the stages ending in Volterra – how cool is that! Mara Abbott is a Webcor Builders professional racer and is on the US women’s national team competing against the Europeans.
We quickly checked in and came down to see the race. The field made two laps through the city and climbed the Category 1 climb twice to finish in the city. We saw the first group on the first lap go through with the support cars. The field was strung out due to the hills. The streets inside the walls are steep and paved with cobblestones.
We had a gelato and hung out at the finish line waiting for the field. It was exciting to watch the women and after the race, we found the US pro team and chatted with them about the race and our tour.
US National team
We both felt great and the legs were good but needed some recovery.
Volterra to Sienna:
The descent from the walled city was fast and long and right after that it was back to climbing. We are on our own for lunch with a scheduled stop at San Gimignno.
At the lunch stop, we assembled the three bike forums teams for a picture: Hermes / Velodiva, 72andsunny and Sevenrider.
We arrived at Sienna and immediately searched for coffee and gelato. We found a place close to the hotel. Gelato is the new recovery food. We went on a walking tour of Sienna and visited a Cathedral that took 500 years to build and contained a library with 500 year old un-restored frescos. The frescos were in perfect condition due to the fact that candles were never burned in the room.
We were on our own for dinner and followed a recommendation of the tour leader. The dinner and wine were to die for. One of the best meals we have had in years.
The next morning was an open day and we planned to ride. We arrived at the appointed time to find that out of 53 teams, we were the only ones that were planning to ride. The previous three days and hills had taken their toll. However, Sevenrider was game but did not have a stoker. We found another captain and bike and put together a YY team to go with our XY team. Another couple showed up and we talked them into riding so we had three teams. Bill M. worked up a route and off we went. We vowed that this would not be a hammerfest and kept the pace down. We did an easy 20 mile recovery ride and then went out to lunch in the center of town. Our legs felt great.
Sienna to Castellini-in-Chianti
We left the city for another day of rolling hills in wine country to visit a castle located on top of a mountain. This was the day that we decided to take walking sandals along to use on the tour. We arrived and climbed by foot another couple of hundred feet to arrive at the castle. The castle was a constant photo opportunity and each turn offered yet another landscape and interesting texture. Lunch was fabulous. Here are a few pics…