Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 27- San Gimignano to Siena- 43km (of up)

Yesterday's arrival to San Gimignano was one of our latest yet! Getting in at 6pm means little time for exploring, and also, very little rest time. So this morning we decided to leave a bit later than usual and got up early before the tourists arrived to explore and enjoy the cool morning air. It's a really magical place when there is no one there. I'm really glad we got to experience it at its quietest.

7am, no tourists
Ben befriended some locals ;)


Views from the walls


All to ourselves


Just spectacular

We set out for Siena around 10am after a pretty good hotel breakfast. The views back to San Gimignano were very impressive and we couldn't stop pulling over to take more photos. It wasn't long before we left the road and headed for the dirt trails. After yesterday's 93km of serious hill time in the sun complete with a bout of heat exhaustion (headaches, vomiting, dizzy spells and general crapola feeling, oh joy!) and a wasp bite just below my left eye (which is now very swollen) I was not feeling in the best sorts. My legs just felt like jelly and nothing would work. I've had heat exhaustion before and it usually takes me a couple of days to get over, and that's with electrolytes, which I have been unable to find here, so fingers crossed I get over it quickly as we still have to get to ROME! ;) We took the trails for the first 10km of the day and it took us 1.5 hours! It was seriously hard work. Mega steep climbs combined with very unforgiving terrain....grass, rocks, roots, creek crossings, tracks dug up by tractors. I was really feeling the fatigue so we skipped to the road for the rest of the way to Monteriggioni, our lunch stop.


Leaving San Gimignano


The views back to the city


Dirt time
What goes down must go up......




And up we go


Creek crossings
The views were pretty amazing
He loves this tough stuff


Vineyards of Chianti


Monteriggioni in the distance




Nothing like a 12% climb before lunch


After lunch in tourist town (it just didn't feel real...more like a medieval theme park) we took a really great section of the VF. It also happened to be part of a MTB granfondo race. We have seen race signs up in a couple of sections of the VF and generally when they are signed as MTB trails they have been very rideable, so for us it means go! This part was really great. Nice shaded tracks and a hard packed surface. Still plenty of climbing, but also some ripping descents. VERY rocky but it was the sort of rocky where if you don't let off the brakes you won't make it over the rocks, so we just threw caution to the wind and went for it! It was my favourite section for the day :)





Bikes on our verandah in Siena

The final ascent into Siena was a corker. Seriously steep. The roads here are crazy. The city spills over the sides of a hill and all the roads just go straight UP! No skirting around or hairpins here!! We are staying here two nights. Our final rest day before three more days of riding to get us to Rome, our final destination! We are trying not to think too much about the end. Even though it will bring an amazing feeling of accomplishment it will also be sad as it marks the end of a fantastic time together with the simplicity of just getting up and riding our bikes each day. I am determined to make each of those three days count and really enjoy it. We have just had an amazing picnic dinner on the verandah of our B&B which has a spectacular view of the city. A bottle of Chianti went down well :) tomorrow we are going to be tourists for the day and I am really looking forward to it.


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