Cyclists on Holiday Get All Medieval

Day Two

Riding past so many Medieval castles I wondered if it was keeping up with the Joneses back then Medieval style – “yeah, yeah you got that hill; well we got this one PLUS a lookout tower!” It’s really remarkable that the buildings lasted this long, but of course only to serve the tourism industry.

On our second day, we rode North around the Volterra area, starting at Casole d’ Esla. I was fascinated by the dirt. Growing up in Eastern Washington, I’ve seen my share of farms and dirt, but nothing ever so big and clumpy. Click through the photo to see clumps as big as boulders.


Flying down a descent and back up towards San Gimignano, I was thankful I still had legs. As I commented on the Riding the Dragon’s Back post, we didn’t ride any leg breakers, but steady and constant undulating terrain. With each curvy descent, we knew that meant another climb and of course Pam and I sprint for town signs.

A ride we missed is the Zen of Cycling (from Taverne d’Arbia) that follows the Crete Senesi. Viva Tours recommend it to us as “magical,” but it was too far from our base at Zi Martino. Incidentally, Zi Martino is where Andy Hampsten bases his tours.

New Sportswear and Sunblock

Bici Hugger alla Toscana: Hincapie Signature Hincapie Sportswear provided us with their new Signature Short and Technical Wool Jersey. The shorts are the best I’ve ridden – an elastic pad makes all the difference on a long day. The shorts combine high-tech materials in various places to support the legs, keep the pad in place, and prevent wear and tear in the seat area. All those materials make for one nice short that’s at the Assos level and 1/2 the cost. There’s even carbon in the back to thicken the material so your skin doesn’t show through on a wet day. Also, for bib shorts, sportwear designers have finally figured out how to make it easier to go to make a pitstop with a low-cut bib front. The jerseys performed as wool should: breathable, comfortable across a range of temperatures, and stylish.

Another new product we tried is Hincapie’s Skin Defense Sunscreen – a 30 SPF liquid spray-on. Thick, pasty sunblocks and the new mist spray ons provide good coverage. When riding hard, they can also either block your skin from sweating and later your pores or run with sweat. During a team camp in Santa Barbara, I had the torturous experience of climbing a hard ascent, pouring sweat from my forehead, and sun block chemicals right into my eyes. That sport sunblock wasn’t as sweat-proof as the label indicated. Worse is that it appeared I was crying by the end of the climb. I’m no climber, but don’t cry when it gets hard!

Hincapie’s formula is a lotion that sprays on. I used it each day and it didn’t feel greasy or run into my eyes. It protected my skin with a lot less material applied. Whatever magic formula the Hincapie lotion scientists came up with, they produced a sunblock that allows your skin to breath, sweat, and not make you cry.

Hincapie’s Signature Short, Wool Jersey, and Sunblock are available in Spring 09.

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