Tuesday, October 2

My wife Sara and I along with son Justin and his wife Erin have arrived in Pisa Italy. The purpose of the trip for Justin and I is to ride L’Eroica, the classic cycling event held the first week in October each year. I guess the ladies will have to occupy themselves with shopping while we are out riding.

Wednesday, October 3

Okay, we have arrived in Pisa but our bikes seem to have taken another plane. They did finally get here this morning and were delivered to our hotel. We assembled them and checked them over before heading out for an easy spin to the coast.

 

We navigated our way out of Pisa to the coast, first through the city’s numerous roundabouts and then onto narrow shoulderless roads. Drivers however were very considerate even though there was little room on the road. The bikes were running well and we were soon at Marina di Pisa, a touristy beach town in summer but almost deserted at this time of year.

Headed down the coast towards Livorno we had planned on making an easy loop and  then returning to the hotel. We missed our turn however and put in some extra miles. Getting used to navigating the roads in Italy would take a little more practice apparently. It’s okay though, we are riding our bikes in Italy on a beautiful day, what else could you ask for?

Thursday, October 5

Todays ride was to be a little more ambitious, we were going to ride out to Lucca on a popular local cycling route. This time, leaving our hotel we headed for the Torre pendente di Pisa (also known as the leaning tower) for some pics. We negotiated the pedestrian zones of the old city before emerging at the Piazza del Duomo and the tower. It was still early but the tourists were already here.

We were ready to ride again and headed north out of the city, navigating several busy roundabouts before hitting the SS12 to San Giuliani Terme. Once at SGT were turned to follow the Via Pisana which would take us all the way to Lucca. This road has little traffic and passes through several old and scenic villages and is very popular with local cyclists! We felt right at home but also stood out in a couple of respects. Even though we were riding Italian bikes ours are old classics, while everyone was riding something new and spiffy. Also, Italian cyclists are very up to date in both the bikes and their clothing and most riders we saw were sporting the latest team colors! We on the other hand were looking a little drab.

This tree lined route is now one of my favorite rides and has everything you could hope to see on a bike ride in Italy; old villages, vineyards, olive groves and a culture of respect for cycling! What else could you ask for!

I’ll tell you what else you could ask for, great coffee! We found just that in a little cafe overlooking the Duomo di San Martino in Lucca. It is an idyllic setting with the cathedral and its tower, a lovely fountain and the occaisional Vespa scooting by. There are very few cars allowed inside the old city walls of Lucca so it can be a very charming and quiet place.

Before our return trip we took a short tour atop the old city walls of Lucca. It is a parklike promenade that circles the old city and is very popular for cyclist and tourist alike. I guess that we fit  into both of those categories.

All coffee’d up and rested we then retraced our route on the Via Pisana back to Pisa. We kept up a brisk pace and somehow managed not to get passed by other local riders.

The trains in Italy run pretty much on time and the line to Lucca is a busy one. We had many rail crossings but were only stopped one time by a passing train. The trip by train from Pisa to Lucca takes about half an hour, but by bike it takes closer to an hour. The bike ride is definitely more enjoyable!

We made it back to Pisa just in time for a late lunch. Tomorrow we will load the bikes in the car and head for Gaiole in Chianti, the village which will host L’Eroica on Sunday. Check back for posts on the event itself in a few day!

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