Strade Bianche: Gravel, Tuscany Style

Strade Bianche: Gravel, Tuscany Style

The famous Strade Bianche (white roads) that criss cross Italy’s Chianti region are some, if not THE most famous gravel roads in the world. These roads are a historical landmark here in Tuscany and there is on-going effort to preserve them. These were the roads that legends such as Coppi and Bartali would have trained and raced on before the modern network of paved roads and autostrade were constructed. 

As far as gravel roads go, these roads are quite smooth and pleasant to ride, although not without challenges of steep climbs and winding descents. If you are new to the relatively recent phenomenon of “gravel grinding” (riding a road bike on dirt roads) then it is best to take it slow and enjoy the scenery. Unlike gravel roads in most of the USA, these roads are generally very hard packed with a layer of crushed limestone and dust. This packed terrain can be extremely slippery when dry and its actually much easier when they are wet. 

From a technical standpoint, normal road tires will work, but those with a larger volume and lower pressure will perform better and smooth out the ride. If you are new to gravel, at first you should keep your speed slow. Limited front tire traction on gravel makes it is difficult to force the bike in the direction you want it to go; therefore you must learn the fine art of letting the bike go where it needs to go. There is no effective way to teach this, but practice makes perfect - and the Strade Bianche's dense properties make it a great place to gain confidence on gravel roads. Cycling the 'White Roads of Tuscany' is truly an exercise in ‘being at one with your bike’. Moreover, pedaling these gravel roads will allow you explore the Tuscany region more thoroughly and see landscapes otherwise not accessible. 

Riding the Strade Bianche is our mainstay. As such, sharing these roads and offering cycling tips along the way is our passion. New to gravel or experienced off the asphalt, cycling the white gravel road of Chianti, the Strade Bianche, promises to be a thrill of a lifetime . Whether it is on a vintage steel bike in preparation for L’Eroica or on a modern gravel bike for fun (or both!), pedaling these roads is a ‘must’ for all cycling enthusiasts.


Interested in riding these roads in the original 'gravel grinder gran fondo event', L'Eroica? We offer a full week leading up to this world class cycling event complete with accomodations, meals and transportation. Visit our Upcoming Trips page for more information or shoot us an email. We love chatting gravel!

Copy and Photo © BICI ITALIA

I Nomi Bici: Dirlo in Italiano

Bike Brand Names: Say it in Italian

Check out this fun video of proper Italian bicycle company names. Parla!

Il Palio

At BICI ITALIA, while we love just about every city in Italy, Siena holds a special place in our heart for many reasons.  First and foremost, we believe it has the best piazza in all of Italy.  Second, there is a special culture deeply embedded in this city. Siena is more than a ‘city’. It is home to seventeen districts or 'contrada’ that have existed for over 800 years.

Each contrada is a truly unique unit defined by a distinct geographical location within the city. Each has it’s own flag, seat of government, church, museum, patron saint, motto, song and so on. Every stage and occasion of a individual’s -or 'contradaioli’s’- life is celebrated by and with their contrada, making the contrada a pride-filled and loyal extended family. But what we find so fascinating is that this structure keeps generations in contact. 


“You people of Siena have a precious thing, and its unique how in the conflict between your districts there lies your union. All the world is flaking away, but there you are with the aliveness of these rites and with your loyalty to the centuries. I believe you are the only example in Italy. There’s a sort of mysterious cord between you and the Sienese of every other age. It’s beautiful, very beautiful.”  – Federico Fellini
 

Siena rites and loyalty to the century manifest itself every year in the Palio.  The origins of the Palio date back to the 12th Century making it the world’s oldest competitive event.  Held every year in July and August in the piazza or il campo, the event is far more than a 'horse race’.  It is politics, competition, strategy, teamwork, and battle of wills that spans an entire year yet culminates in the horse race.

In the Palio, ten jockeys, each hired by a contrada, race bare back on a dirt track in il campo - and anything goes as long as you win. It is not uncommon for the horses to finish the race without a jockey - and the horse can still win!

The winner of the Palio does more than win the race, it impacts the history of Siena and all it’s people.

The August 2017 edition of the race includes our good friends in the Snail contrada - or Chiocciola - and we will be cheering for them…and as such routing against their rival the Tortoise - or Tartuca.

In bocca al lupo a tutti!

 

In 2017, BICI ITALIA will be hosting a very special cycling and cultural trip centered around the Palio. It will include special entry to events leading up to the event. As this will be an elite trip, space is limited. Contact us today to hold your reservation!

evoluzione della bicicletta

We thought we’d share this fantastic one minute animation of the bicycle’s evolution - all the way from the wooden horse to the modern racer. Buon divertimento! 

Travel back in time and join us for L'Eroica! We have accommodations available!

Video Credit: Visual Artworks

 

La Storia della Strade Bianche

The white gravel roads. Distinctive, unique and as famous as those who have pedaled two-wheels over it’s topography. BICI ITALIA has quite a love affair with the Strade Bianche. It is our daily ride, our escape, and our challenge. It is our confidant, our friend, and on some days, our adversary that pushes us to be better cyclists.

Our first real appreciation of the Strade Bianche and it’s history was many years ago when we first participated in L’Eroica. L’Eroica, founded by Giancarlo Brocci, is a benefit ride in honor of the ‘heroic’ days of cycling with the goal of saving the white gravel roads from being paved. To ride L’Eroica, to quote Giancarlo, is to spread the values of cycling and to “re-discover the beauty and fatigue and the thrill of the conquest”. 

Today, thanks to Giancarlo and his event team, the Strade Bianche is preserved, marked with L’Eroica signs and available to all who wish to ‘be heroic’. On any given day, you can find cyclists of all kinds enjoying the picturesque landscape of Toscana - mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, vintage bikes and even modern day road bikes. At BICI ITALIA, we believe these historic roads are the best way to appreciate cycling in Tuscany.

Through saving the Strade Bianche from being paved, we find it ironic that Giancarlo ‘paved the way’ for not only his world-famous festival and ride which as become and annual pilgrimage for vintage bike enthusiasts, but has launched a modern granfondo and a pro tour event.

This weekend, the pros hit the gravel in what has become a prestigious one-day race that is quickly becoming the lead cornerstone of the Spring Classics. On Saturday, the Strade Bianche - Eroica Pro sees the elite pro circuit across 200 km in and around Siena. Sunday brings the Monte Paschi Eroica on the same roads. A granfondo that echoes the original L’Eroica.

It is this time each year that we take time to honor our beloved White Roads, pause and reflect on the history of cycling’s golden era, pay tribute to Gino Bartoli and his cycling comrades of the heroic generation, thank Giancarlo and the L’Eroica team for their hard work in preserving these roads and encourage people to explore the Strade Bianche by bike.

To ride the Strade Bianche on any bike you like, contact us today!

(Video courtesy of Eroica.cc and presented by Brooks England)

IN ITALIANO:

Le strade bianche. Distinctive, unico e famoso come coloro che hanno pedalato due ruote su di esso di topografia. BICI ITALIA ha un bel storia d'amore con la Strade Bianche. E 'la nostra corsa quotidiana, la nostra fuga, e la nostra sfida. E 'il nostro confidente, il nostro amico, e in alcuni giorni, il nostro avversario che ci spinge ad essere i ciclisti migliori.

Il nostro primo apprezzamento reale del Strade Bianche e la sua storia era molti anni fa, quando abbiamo partecipato a L'Eroica. L'Eroica, fondata da Giancarlo Brocci, è una corsa vantaggio in onore dei giorni eroici "del ciclismo con l'obiettivo di salvare sterrati bianchi vengano spianato. Per guidare L'Eroica, per citare Giancarlo, è quello di diffondere i valori del ciclismo e di "ri-scoprire la bellezza e la fatica e il brivido della conquista".

Oggi, grazie a Giancarlo e il suo team eventi, la Strade Bianche è conservato, segnato con segni L'Eroica e disponibile per tutti coloro che desiderano 'essere eroici'. In un dato giorno, è possibile trovare i ciclisti di tutti i tipi che godono pittoresco paesaggio della Toscana - mountain bike, biciclette da ciclocross, bici d'epoca e anche moderne bici da strada giorno. A BICI ITALIA, riteniamo che queste strade storiche sono il modo migliore per apprezzare il ciclismo in Toscana.

Attraverso salvare la Strade Bianche di essere asfaltata, troviamo ironico che Giancarlo 'ha aperto la strada' non solo per il suo festival di fama mondiale e cavalcata che, come diventare e pellegrinaggio annuale per gli appassionati di bici d'epoca, ma ha lanciato una granfondo moderno e un professionista evento del tour.

Questo fine settimana, i pro ha colpito la ghiaia in quella che è diventata una prestigiosa corsa di un giorno che sta rapidamente diventando la pietra angolare principale dello classiche di primavera. Sabato scorso, la Strade Bianche - Eroica Pro vede la Pro Circuit elite in tutto 200 km nei dintorni di Siena. Domenica porta la Monte Paschi Eroica sulle stesse strade. Una granfondo che riprende l'originale L'Eroica.

E 'questo periodo ogni anno che ci prendiamo il tempo per onorare i nostri amati strade bianche, mettere in pausa e riflettere sulla storia del periodo d'oro del ciclismo, rendere omaggio a Gino Bartoli e dei suoi compagni di ciclismo della generazione eroica, grazie a Giancarlo e il team L'Eroica per il loro duro lavoro nel preservare queste strade e incoraggiare le persone a esplorare la strade Bianche in bicicletta.

Per guidare la Strade Bianche su qualsiasi bici che ti piace, contattateci oggi!

 

( Video per gentile concessione di Eroica.cc e presentato da Brooks England )