Gravel biking Tuscany's famous white roads
DISTANCE: 122km (50km gravel), Counter Clockwise Loop
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.
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.
Typical Tuscan views: rolling hills and cyprus rows.
Gravel gets steep on the L'Eroica course.
Smooth but steep gravel.
Just about the only traffic passing through was two-wheeled.
Spring scenes along the Strade Bianche.
Racing to town signs and outracing storms.
Gravel isn't the only attraction. Don't forget to stop for panini, pici, panforte, espresso, gelato... often.