are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A week amongst the Lucchese (Urban)

Old friends of mine moved to Tuscany a few years ago, and have been raving about it ever since. I'm not quite sure why the stars never aligned, apart from the usual money/time/etc, but I had yet to pay them a visit. A month ago an impromptu invitation was extended. I perused a few budget airline websites, found a good price, and bought a ticket. Three weeks later I landed in Pisa, with a carry on bag containing bike kit, a toothbrush, and some street clothes. Just my luck, there was a spare bike, which happened to be the same make, model, and size as my own, waiting for me. Now that's what I call hospitality.

Herewith, some pics.

While Lucca was where I would be staying, this is (more or less) the terrain that I covered.

Looking down on to Lucca.

The famous city walls of old Lucca, built to keep the Fiorentini out.

In the past they were used for car races. These days, the only racing done on them is cyclo-cross.

Start grid from the last race.

If you want to go for a ride on the 4km circuit, you can pay extortionate rates to rent a bike at this place.

Some of the Lucchese prefer to keep it simple.

The back streets provide some welcome shade from the searing heat.

Some sights.

Torre Guinigi.

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro.

San Michele in Foro.

Stairway to heaven.

Duomo di Lucca.

While at was inside the Duomo, I thought I heard thunder (the skies were looking ominous).

It turned out to be something completely different.

I left the piazza, and walked towards the sound.

First seeing some immaculately attired motorcycle cops.

Then seeing what was the cause of the commotion: Placebo doing a sound check for their evening concert.

Both tourists and locals enjoyed the 'show.'

A week amongst the Lucchese (Pastoral)

And, of course, one should not forget the Tuscan landscape.

Farm along the Serchio.

Views from and along the Piccolo Mortirolo.

Just one of many road side shrines, this one on a descent.

Tuscan vineyard.

Ascending Passo del Cipollaio. The white peak is marble quarry.

Western view from the top of the Cipollaio.

One day I went out on my own.

My plan was to follow along part of the route of the Via Francigena.

Which happened to also be on the course of the Gran Fondo Michele Bartoli.

Which brought me to some interesting climbs.

And historical sights.

At the end of the ride, when I was back in Lucca, I decided to try a short, sharp climb that Mr. B apparently used to do intervals on.

Right, just off a road, and on to this, followed by a very sharp right, then...

Up this, and swing right.

Then up this.

I rode it a it a few times. Interesting.

Yesterday was my last day, so the plan was to get up early, and squeeze in a 5 hour ride, to and along the sea, before my afternoon flight.

My Host with the Most included a few 'bumps.'

With their views of valleys.

And civilized alternative to a 7-Eleven.

The Mediterranean in sight.

Finally descending down to the coast, and riding on pancake flat roads for the first time in a week.

Alongside various hotels and resorts.

And that's about it.

Some amazing riding in the region. I only have two regrets: one is that I didn't have the chance to get some shots of an amazing bridge, and the other is that...

Instead of imbibing upon the local plonk, I mainly drank this stuff (which isn't so bad, especially considering the fact that it was actually the brand that I learned how to like beer with. Many moons ago).