Strade bianche Through Local Eyes
The Rise of Gravel Biking
Combining the essence of road cycling with the ruggedness of mountain biking, gravel cycling offers a unique physical challenge due to increased rolling resistance and the often-heavier bikes. What truly sets it apart are the lesser-traveled roads, the escape from the hustle and bustle, and the chance to immerse oneself in the serenity of the countryside.
As the world witnessed a surge in outdoor activities, including cycling, during the pandemic, one particular niche within the cycling community was already on the rise. Gravel grinding, characterized by traversing unpaved roads with sturdier road bikes boasting slightly thicker tires and, sometimes, shock absorption, has emerged as one of the fastest-growing segments in the cycling industry
Gravel Biking’s Explosive Growth
Cycling News declared, “Cycling has gone gravel crazy,” affirming that gravel biking is far from a passing fad. The New York Times further supported this claim by reporting a staggering 109% increase in gravel bike sales from 2019 to 2021. Even more recently, the Washington Post in the article What gravel cycling is and why you should give it a try reported a remarkable 62% growth in gravel bike sales for the year ending in February 2022.
Discovering the Mecca of Gravel Biking: Tuscany’s White Roads
Every sport has its sacred sites: St. Andrews for golfers, Everest for mountaineers, and for gravel cyclists, it’s the legendary “Strade Bianche,” or ‘White Roads,’ of Tuscany. The epicenter of this phenomenon is the Val d’Orcia, a picturesque, UNESCO World Heritage Site that envelops the charming towns of Pienza and wine-centric Montalcino. In the Val d’Orcia alone, there are more than 600 miles of these roads, aptly named after the light-colored gravel that maintains them.
So in case your question is: where can I gravel bike ride in Tuscany? This is the place!
Our Gravel Journey in Tuscany
When we established our business in the Orcia valley back in 1994, little did we know we’d be at the heart of the gravel cycling movement.
The region gained international fame as the home of L’Eroica, one of the most renowned and historic gravel races. Originating as a one-day vintage event in Gaiole in Chianti in 1997, L’Eroica has grown into a global brand, with rides spanning the globe. However, the original 200km route, a rigorous ride that attracts cyclists from every corner of the world, is right here in Tuscany. The roads are now officially marked with brown L’Eroica signs n the permanent routes , and there are sub-routes designed for single-day excursions.
It is just a fraction of the white roads that grace the Tuscan countryside.
Tuscany: Gravel Biker’s Paradise
Regardless of where you choose to stay in Tuscany, you’re never far from an idyllic and relatively car-free road network. This means you’re always within reach of charming towns, delectable cuisine, and world-class wines. Tuscany, renowned as one of the world’s dream vacation destinations, has always been on the bucket list of every cyclist. Now, with the burgeoning popularity of gravel grinding, it’s an even more alluring destination.
The Local Touch: We Are Gravel Addicts
Tuscany is easy to explore independently, thanks to clear signage, numerous bike shops, and cyclist-friendly accommodations. The local enthusiasm for the sport is palpable, and it hasn’t escaped the notice of a few tour operators, ourselves included.
Leading the Way in Gravel Adventures
We began our gravel journey with cyclocross bike prototypes and placed our first gravel bike orders in 2018. Our first gravel trip rolled out in 2019, only to be met with the challenges of a pandemic. Yet, when the dust settled, we were ready with our self-guided gravel adventures, which have since become a resounding success.
The Future of Gravel Biking in Tuscany
While other tour operators will jump on the gravel bandwagon, as highlighted in this Forbes article titled “World’s Best Cycling Trips – Riding The White Roads Of Italy’s Tuscany,” the ones already offering these experiences are among the finest in the industry.
We do believe to belong to those: not only do we offer exceptional gravel adventures, we are also locals.
We know every nook and cranny of this enchanting region, and we share your passion for gravel, much like the name of our Scott brand bikes: gravel addicted!
Numerous smaller, local companies provide supported, self-guided, and guided trips in the region. As the popularity of gravel grinding and active travel continues to grow, especially in this already wildly popular tourist destination, more companies may join in. However, those of us who have been in the game for some time are undoubtedly among the very best in the industry.
As local company, our dedication to delivering unparalleled gravel experiences is unmatched.
So, if you’re ready to uncover the secrets of Tuscany’s white roads and immerse yourself in the gravel grinding craze, don’t hesitate to reach out. Your unforgettable journey through this magnificent landscape awaits, and we’re here to make it an adventure you’ll never forget.