I arrived yesterday in Tuscany, and even though I was quite tired from the Jet-Lag, and not sleeping, I decided to work on the bike. I swapped out the Axis brake calipers with a pair of Shimano Ultegra 6800 I picked up used on eBay but in very good condition. For pads I opted for the Kool-Stop Salmon compound. I had also shipped a built up a rear wheel from a PowerTap G3 hub and Velocity A23 rim with 32 spokes. I wanted a wheel I would never have an issue with. What I call bomb proof. I shipped the wheel ahead of time, instead of dealing with the hassle of bringing it on the plane with me.
These changes I wanted to make were due to some issues I was having with the braking and rear the existing rear wheel. Before bringing the bike here, we tried to dial out the flexation I was getting on steep climbs when out of saddle. But nothing seemed to work. I was also getting was a nasty vibration from the rear brakes upon heavy braking. It was so bad that last September I almost crashed off a fast decent going into a hairpin.
First order of business was to swap the cassette with my tools I brought with me. While the cassette was coming off I decided to clean it up with degreaser. That process went smoothly. Swapping the tyre was a chore. The new rim is a tubeless ready and thus, very very tight.
Next I swapped the brakes. I am glad I had my sister purchase a cheap repair stand, it makes cleaning and working on the bike a more enjoyable process. The rear brake caliper went on with little issue. However, damage to my front brake cable made the process a bit more painful up front. I will probably want to source out another brake cable and small bit of housing, either locally or by me. Despite those issues the new brake setup seems to work well.
So, today was going to be my first outing of this trip. I did get up out of bed a bit later then expected, but I am on vacation, so who cares? My weather app indicated that the temperatures were in the mid sixties coupled with a slow breeze. Puffy clouds dotted the sky, but there was definitely a good amount of sun. I settled on a trip up to Castellina in Chianti, but I wanted to extend it out. I found this route from a friend I met while riding here. I cribbed his route off of his Strava page.
The riding got much better once I exited Poggibonsi leaving the silly traffic behind. There were still cars to contend with on the nineteen kilometer climb up to Castellina, but it was nothing to worry about. I love that road. Coming back down is a lot of fun, except that today I would be going a different way. As of late, my legs are not used to doing much climbing so this was going to be a good re-introduction.
Just before arriving in Castellina, a cyclist and driver is confronted with a one way street. The proper method is to turn left and go up a stupid steep hill, then drop down into town. I chose to ride the pedestrian path the wrong way on the one way street, even though it specifically says that bikes are not permitted. It is never an issue early in the morning with no one out and about and almost no cars on the road. But I was now doing this in the middle of the day. Heck there is a Strava called “Wrong Way Asshole!” for this section.
Almost through the one way street, a Carabiniere drove by and he gave me an evil look. I was worried he was going to come around and ticket me. I figured I would pretend not to speak Italian and see if I could get away with it. But just then, I felt my rear rim bottom out. Crap, I had a flat. That would have been my excuse. I stopped at the Chianti Rooster, and took my time changing my tube while sitting on one of the benches. All set I set off to Radda in Chianti. The last time I took this road, I was a passenger in a car, but I have never ridden it on a bike. The sign said 10 Kilometers to go.
I arrived in Radda, and circulated around the outside of this small town. I stopped for some pictures, and got back on the bike when suddenly I bottomed out my rear wheel again. Flat number two.
At this point I was worried. Obviously I was having an issue with my wheel/tyre combo. I put in my second tube, and used up my last C02 cartage. I figured I would ride back home. No sense in trying to go further. About two kilometers from Castellina, I felt my rear wheel go soft again. By now I was quite cross. I texted my sister, and told her I would have to walk over to Castellina and see if I could find a bike shop. Walking those two or so kilometers in road shoes was quite torturous. By the time I got back to the Chianti rooster, my sister informed me that there are no bike shops in Castellina in Chianti, despite all the cyclists from the area and all the passing ones. Go figure, maybe I should start a business. After several more calls, it was determined that my sister would come get me once she got home from work.
I was now in for a two hour wait. I was struggling to stay worm. I had forgotten my vest, the sun was starting to go down, and the wind was picking up. I am glad I had network connectivity with my phone so I could entertain myself by chatting with friends. I elected not to walk further looking for a bar, which in hindsight I should have done.
My sister arrived after six thirty, and we threw my bike in the back of her car and headed home. The descent out of Castellina is more fun on a bike. Too bad I did not get to ride it. I spent the whole evening shivering and trying to warm back up with the help of soup, tea, a shower, and bedtime.