Just over a week ago the 2021 Strade Bianche races provided more amazing cycling footage from Tuscany. Naturally, the white gravel roads again played centre stage. It is no secret that the crew here at Sierra love to get off-road. It was back in 2014 when Sierra first started guiding our cycling tour groups over the ‘strada bianca’. At first, some of our guests probably thought the concept of gravel cycling in Tuscany was a little crazy. But right from the start we were sure we had found a winning combination!
Sierra guests were riding gravel before it became COOL!
Gravel cycling from the Giro to l’Eroica
You see, in Tuscany, the gravel roads provide cyclists with a huge amount of flexibility. Hard compacted gravel can lead you up to picnic lunches in remote hilltop villages. Cruising along ridgelines provide super vantage points that look out to medieval cities like Siena. Plus gravel detours offer up the chance to beat Giro d’Italia road closures. We fondly remember bush-bashing to within metres of an individual time trial start in Chianti wine region.
The Tuscan gravel can basically take you anywhere you need to go!
After a couple of Giro d’Italia tours rolled by we decided that we needed more Vitamin G. So with that came the birth of our l’Eroica vintage bike adventures. We have been able to even spot Italian pro-riders cycling this event incognito behind their own vintage bike and woolen clothing disguises. Enrico Gasparotti won the 2016 Amstel Gold Race and only a few months later was enjoying the l’Eroica cycling festival with a relaxed ride with friends. Never in his wildest of dreams did he imagine a photo with the Sierra peloton at the finish line. Or should that be the Sierra paparazzi!!. It all amounts to a very special day when you see a current pro-rider wearing l’Eroica finisher medal with so much pride!
Tuscan gravel cycling goes vintage
Cycling the gravel roads also gives us adults the chance to dress-up for a day. It turns into a bit of a competition around who can go most vintage. Finding a retro jersey is easy at l’Eroica vintage market. To give you an idea, this vintage bike market is a bit like Pick-a-Part for second-hand car accessories. Sierra owner Paul back in his maiden l’Eroica trip stumbled across the ‘GSR Camping Citta Di Angera’ woolen classic. He fell in love at first sight. Note the green and gold colours!
What happened next and what continues to happen every year is local Italians gravitate to the jersey. It just seems that most of central Italy love the Angera camp ground. We later found out that this camping is located on the shores of Lago Maggiore just north-west of Milan. If Paul could pull off an authentic Italian accent (rather than his Spanish one) then he could try to pass as the camp ground owner. On average there would be 5 riders every year that come up and tell Paul just how good ‘GSR Camping Citta Di Angera’ really is. As a result, we have made a note to check it out one day with the family!
Prosecco in Chianti wine region
The best feature of the jersey though is by far the extra large and reinforced back pockets. As you can see in the above photo, a bottle of prosecco wine easily fits in! So the handover of a bottle or two of crisp Prosecco just on the entry to Gaiole in Chianti is now tradition. This way we make sure our gravel cycling in Tuscany experiences are celebrated in style!
Don’t worry though, we make sure to also sample the local Chianti wines. There is plenty of time for a quality glass of red while telling tall tales. l’Eroica will do that too you! What a way to mix Tuscan gravel roads, vintage bikes and cycling culture. The gastronomy combined with friendly locals willing to share their small towns will create your best ever Italian travel experience. Feel free to follow this link if you would like to learn more about our Tuscany & l’Eroica cycling holidays. Viva la Toscana!