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!
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