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Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche

Gravel biking Tuscany's famous white roads




START: Pienza

FINISH: Pienza


EFFORT: Difficult


DISTANCE: 122km (50km gravel), Counter Clockwise Loop


VERTICAL: 1940m


The Strade Bianche, Tuscany's typical white gravel roads, have become a Nirvana that all cyclists want to reach one day. Far from the traffic and from the cities, they deliver an authentic challenge. Apart from other cyclists, a few thousand sheep, the ubiquitous barking guard dogs, and some old Fiat Pandas transporting hunters to their prey,  we did not see anybody between the few towns we crossed.

Tuscany's Strade Bianche aren't the Alps high passes, but they are far from flat: slopes at 8% are frequent, with peaks reaching 15%, and sometimes covered with stones worthy of the pavements of the north, usually covered with a layer of sand and gravel.

Writing a column for Vélo Magazine, Alain wanted to create the perfect loop, that would connect the best sections of Strade Bianche with a minimum of asphalt. Taking inspiration from previous rides, the L'Eroica event and the Strade Bianche pro race course, he chose Pienza as the starting point to cover the Crete Senesi and Val d'Orcia south of Siena.

The result: a beautiful and brutal 122km loop that includes 50km of gravel, through the tranquil Tuscan countryside.


TIP: There are cafes, restaurants and bakeries in Asciano, Monteroni d'Arbia and Buonconvento. Because the options are limited between towns, refuel when you can with a panino, a lemon soda, a local panforte, and an espresso whenever there's opportunity.



Gravel biking Tuscany

Typical Tuscan views: rolling hills and cyprus rows.

Gravel biking Tuscany

Gravel gets steep on the L'Eroica course.

Gravel biking Tuscany

Smooth but steep gravel.

Gravel biking Tuscany

Just about the only traffic passing through was two-wheeled.

Gravel biking Tuscany

Spring scenes along the Strade Bianche.

Gravel biking Tuscany

Racing to town signs and outracing storms.

Gravel biking Tuscany

Gravel isn't the only attraction. Don't forget to stop for panini, pici, panforte, espresso, gelato... often.

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Comments 6

  1. La route et l’ambiance ont l’air super interessant et sympa Alain, qu’est-ce que vous avez aime le plus sur la route?

  2. We just rode the majority of this loop. Most of it is wonderful, but the section between kms 44 and 49 on the bikemap page, around Mucigliani, is more of a muddy track than gravel. After a bit of rain, you can get a bit bogged down. Then there are big Tuscan sheep-dogs roaming loosely and looking for cyclists to chase down and bark at. I can attest that the best method is stopping the bike and looking straight at them – they then back down rather than continuing to chase while barking louder and louder. Apart from those 5 kms, it was wonderful route. Thanks Alain.

    1. We rode on rock hard, dry mud and I was wondering how it would be in wet conditions. Well, now I know. And yes, we also met the dogs. Lots of them. Felt like the TCR…

      1. Post
        Author

        Hey Chris, we amended the loop which now avoids the mud fest (and the dogs). The loop is now 122km with 1950m of elevation. Thanks again for the feedback!

        1. Thanks guys, I think that’s probably a better and safer option. My TCR experiences also helped with handling the dogs, but not everyone would be comfortable.

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