Friday, August 21, 2009

Do All Roads Lead to Greve?

It seems like they do, but I'm still learning! Today again, Clare and I met for a private tour and we headed south through San Casciano and on to Mercatale, where we took a peaceful, exceptionally beautiful, backroad to Ferrone. Then we cut south again and on the way bumped into Leif who was heading in the opposite direction as well a few professional cycling teams that were out training, followed by their team support car. Then we went on to Passo dei Pecorai and Greve, where we stopped to refuel.

Greve is a central cycling crossroads, located in a position that makes it a logical rest stop for many cycling itineraries in this part of Tuscany and you always encounter many other traveling cyclists in the piazza. You can tell the cyclotourists from the local cyclists, based on whether they go to a bar for a quick espresso, or whether they actually sit down to eat. For me, it's unthinkable to sit down and eat during a ride, but with clients, it's a totally different experience. You do it because you want to talk to them more and learn more about them, and it is a bonding experience and a time to promote your business and yourself.

I remember the first time I was in Greve about 20 years ago, it was a sleepy bucolic town that has since become very commercialized. It still remains welcoming, yet in a different way than it used to be. Personally, I would rather stop in smaller towns like Mercatale that aren't as popular with travelers, that only have one bar, but where you're the only passer-by. So, as I develop my own favorite cycling itineraries, I will seek out the less popular places to stop. Although places like Greve are usually more interesting to tour clients, so I'll need to make that distinction.

We arrived back in Florence slightly after noon and I showed Clare one of my favorite restaurants, Osteria da Giovanni, which became my favorite last year when I dined there with my friends Lori and Fred from California. Then Clare and I decided to meet again on Sunday for another tour, but this time we'll head up north.

I was pretty pooped from the last few days of riding in the heat, and wanted to take a nap when I got home, but got busy doing some shopping and writing. Last night I was so tired that I decided not to go out, but to do some catching up on the phone with friends from California and family in New Jersey. It's always hard to coordinate the timing of phone calls to the States, so I have to set a schedule to do it once a week.

I was hoping to be able to ride with my team tomorrow, because I haven't rode with them in ages, because of Ferragosto and because I've been working. But tomorrow I need to recover from the past few days of riding in the heat, so that I can be ready to take Clare on another tour on Sunday. Hopefuly I can ride with the team next Saturday, since most of them will probably be back from their vacations, and I don't think I will be working that day.

Also, today I heard from my friend Rebecca, who is hiking 500 miles along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgramage trail in Spain. She's been walking for weeks, and has a couple of weeks to go, before she arrives in Santiago. It's hard enough cycling in this heat, I can't imagine walking 500 miles, day after day.