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.
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?
No cars and great coffee!
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.
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…
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!
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.