Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day 26 - Lucca to San Gimignano- 93km (39degrees c!)


Wow, What a day! We rolled out of Lucca looking forward to the Tuscan scenery. Although we had already spent most of yesterday in Tuscany, we hadn't hit the stereotypical Tuscan landscapes yet. Today we certainly got it. We had initially thought we would arrive by 3pm with time to explore the city and climb one of the towers, but we were in for a long hard day on the bikes.

Lucca Cathedral
Leaving Lucca

It was fairly easy going for the first 20k, mostly paved backroads some steep climbs in places but we got onto a good roll.

Quiet backroads
Climb time

Turning offroad we rode through some forrest and followed some mtb trails which were still marked from a race, after second breakfast and a double espresso we soon turned off into the vineyards and olive groves and the short steep climbs started.

Onto the gravel
Archeology students
Looking more Tuscan
Original Roman road, a little bit bumpy even on the mtb

It was really open now, luckily no wind but the sun was heating up. We had planned to take the trails most of today as the roads detour quite far around the route, but the trails cut through the landscape meaning sharp climbs and sharp descents.

Euro style mtb tracks
Lunch stop in San Minato
Beer, makes everything better
Extra free lunch
Climb up, descend down story of the day. The views are worth it
After a mix of offroad trails and quiet backroads we arrived in San Minato, a beautiful hilltop village but everything seemed to be closed. Not much going on for lunch, winding through the village we arrived in the centre and saw signs for beer. A boutique beer bar in the middle of Italy. Most restaurants seemed to open at 12:30 in 15 minutes so we decided to have a beer while we wait. After a refreshing German ale, we notice that the same beer bar specalises in gourmet pannios. 2 Brie + honey + truffle oil pannis and we are set for lunch, the lovely lady also gave us an extra snack of tomato, pecorino and truffles on baguettes. All this for 10euro, which we think as a special pilgrim price. For anyone traveling through San Minato it's definately worth a lunch stop.
This is where we turned off for 30k of gravel oven time
Still smiling
How can you not love this
Ok, now it's hot and my legs are burning!
Then you loo back and see this
20k to go and it's getting hotter
Home straight, only 6k to go
San Gmignano in the distance
Almost there

We had about 30k to Gambansi Terme but we were only averaging around 10kph and the heat was really setting in, I took at photo as it hit 38degrees on my garmin, it then topped 39 a few minutes later. The views all around were spectacular, it looked like a postcard. Struggling in the heat though we had to push on. Finally rolling into Gambansi terme we went straight for the nearest bar and grabbed two cold cokes and a big limone granita. Hiding out inside the locals gave us funny sideways glances, we must of looked a bit crazed dripping in sweat and probably looking sunburnt. Finally cooling down enough we rolled on, the last leg of 14k would be mostly on backroads, as the trail would be too steep. It was a mostly downhill to start for around 5k, but we could now see San Gimignano in the distance way up on the hills now, so that defiantly meant more climbing. It was much cooler on the road though, and we had more tree cover than on the hill paths, taking the backroads we had some steep climbs, and we seemed to meander generally towards the destination. Quite a few tourists drove past, probably wondering who would want to ride out in these hills as they flew by in their rented audis. We even saw a group with a broken down Ferrari who didn't look too happy. Finally cresting the last climb we could see it was one more descent and then the climb up into town.

Arriving into town, I had plugged the address into google maps already and we found our way quite easily. Desparate for a shower now, but arriving at the location there was no sign of the hotel. Searching up and down the street with no luck, I did a full block of the town, realising now I was still In my helmet gloves and obviously kit. Bounding through the main square full of tourists I went into the tourist office to ask for help. Turns out the same street has the same number 7 a few hundred metres down where the numbers restart!

The town is beyond incredible, unfortunately we arrived late at almost 6pm, our latest yet. 6:30hr ride time today. Which is pretty hard going for 93k. We only have a short day tomorrow into Siena where we get our final rest day. So we are going out for a nice 3course meal tonight and a sleep in with breakfast in our hotel tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Tuscan vistas look so inviting. ,Its freezing cold in Melbourne ...:)