There was a time when cycling routes were along dirt roads. A time when instead of mineral supplements or amino acids, we had ribollita soup, cured meats and red wine. To get an idea of what those times were like, perhaps all you would need to do is to watch the dust that rises from these dirt roads that split the motionless hills in two. Or taste the dust that sticks to your lungs, dries out your throat and gets in your eyes. But this still might not be enough to fully convey how those times were fuelled on dust and beauty, and how contrasts were prized. Because when you think about it, the uniqueness of that era, lost in time yet timeless just the same, is something extraordinary that can’t be encapsulated in a few lines. In the end, that’s how cycling is: it captures moments and shatters words. Through time and beyond it.
Italy Bike Hotels has selected 3 events for you, which represent a return to the essence of cycling. Don’t call them races – everyone wins – you participate in order to be able to say, "I was there". Without forgetting the exertion required, which is the essence of a sport that also serves as a metaphor for life. There's nothing left to say except: Welcome to the past! Welcome to Tuscany.
L’Eroica (The Heroic)
Where: Gaiole in Chianti (Siena)
Known as the Woodstock of cycling, L’Eroica at Gaiole in Chianti is a sweaty, dusty, unified, timeless and boundless way to cycle and enjoy company, experiencing the vineyards, ribollita soup and wine, vintage bicycles, leather saddles, curved handlebars and retro woollen jerseys, in this cyclists’ paradise between Chianti and Val d'Orcia.
Since the first edition 21 years ago, L’Eroica has transformed a simple bike ride with friends into a viral phenomenon, so much so that today it’s an international brand in a format that’s exported all over the world: England, Spain, California, South Africa, Japan, Limburg, Punta del Este and Italy, with the Nova Eroica and Eroica Montalcino. The feather in its cap, however, is always the same: the beauty of exertion and the great feeling of achievement.
If you don’t feel Heroic enough to ride for 209 kilometres on mostly hillside dirt roads, with more than 3,700 metres of elevation gain, never fear, L'Eroica is divided into various routes: a stroll in the park of 46 km to enjoy the "heroic" atmosphere; the "access point" to the legendary L’Eroica of 75 km; the Chianti Classico route and the Medio route, 115 and 135 kilometres respectively. The choice is yours!
L’Intrepida (The Intrepid)
Where: Anghiari (Arezzo)
The mediaeval hamlet of Anghiari is the site of the battle that reshaped Tuscany’s borders, and looks like it’s come straight out of a quaint painting: up the hillside there are stone houses, a bell tower overlooking the valley, narrow undulating streets and rows of vineyards all around. L’Intrepida winds along three routes here: the Classico is 42 km, the Lungo (long) is 85 km and the Intrepido is 120 km. It’s not the number of participants and the great names from cycling history that render L’Intrepida extraordinary, but the beauty of its landscapes, the quality of the eateries and the historical importance of the places traversed: from the plain where the famous June 29, 1440 Battle of Anghiari was fought, to the birthplaces of Michelangelo (Caprese) and Piero della Francesca (Sansepolcro).
And as the organisers point out, "Take your old bicycle, dress in retro and cycle through history”.
Where: Marciano della Chiana (Arezzo)
Experience Valdichiana, "The heart of Tuscany". This is the intention of the organisers of La Chianina, which traverses 7 Valdichiana Aretina municipalities, all connected by sinuous dirt roads.
There are four itineraries that enable you to relive the atmosphere of vintage cycling: the Garbato (28 km), the Corto (short) is 45 km, the Medio (medium) is 70 km and the Lungo (long) is 100 km.
© All rights reserved