Unlimited Stories is a way for us to narrate our world, our passions, our stories. But it is above all time that we want to dedicate to you who are reading these stories. In this super-connected world and always occupied by any type of input, where we are always reachable in anyplace, at any time, the most precious thing is the time we can dedicate to the things we love. And if you are reading this blog most likely your passions coincide with ours.
Unlimited Stories is a journey to the places we love most, to the places that have made the history of cycling but seen from another perspective. An adventure to discover the new and the beauty that is just around the corner. Because beauty is everywhere you just need to know how to grasp it and many times it lies more in the way we look at places than at places themselves.
Unlimited Stories is a call to go out, leave the phone at home and pedal to discover everything that surrounds us, to be fascinated, to leave the beaten path.
From what I’ve experienced, the true magic of the area lies on the countless offshoots from these more or less “main” arteries. It’s funny calling a white road an artery, but it is true. Unlike a lot of places with a big network of dirt, these roads are used - and used a lot - by farmers, residents, tourists, cyclotourists, people getting from one point to another. They’re normal roads - just roads that have been protected by the region (thankfully).
My mention of “countless offshoots” from these main dirt roads is no exaggeration - they’re everywhere. Head down one section of white road and you’ll see little invitations left and right all the way to the end of the road. There are so many other possibilities. It’s these possibilities where things get interesting. It’s these roads that truly break with the idea that a road bike with biggish tires is enough. This is where the gravel bike is truly the way to go, easy gearing highly encouraged, and don’t be afraid to throw on some big tires, because adventure is out there, and adventure always seems to mean rough and steep around here.
It was here that we left the main roads behind and set off on our own adventures of new roads, paths, farm tracks, and just plain fields. The roads went from rolling with some little pitches here and there to straight down, straight up - and another level of beauty.
And so it was, when we left the route of Strade Bianche just outside of Buonconvento, then plunged straight down to a small stream - only to stare in amazement at the wall in front of us. We laughed in disbelief at this improbably perched piece of dirt - then slowly tried to make our way up it. We each made full gas attempts at it, but ultimately fell a bit short and took to our feet for the final meters - laughing at this ridiculous road. Riccardo was having none of it though and tried multiple times to get the better of the loose wall of a track. He eventually gave up and bent over laughing at the absurdity of his quest. We didn’t want him to feel alone, so we laughed at him too.
Depending on the time of year that you go through here, it can be the brightest green you’ve ever seen in spring, a brilliant burnt yellow in the summer, and then finally, tilled earth as far as your eyes can see in the fall and winter. I’m in love with this spot - going all the way back to the first time that Ash and I walked across it, because it was a mud track after a particularly wet spring.
Right below the castle is the l’Eroica Cafe - complete with l’Eroica paraphernalia, coffee, sandwiches, and treats. It’s a lovely spot and worth whiling away the afternoon - well, not too long, especially on a ride like this one. There’s no rush, but there is daylight to be dealt with, and the going is slow - but wonderful.
From here, the next fifteen or so kilometers are - again - some of my favorites. I only recently discovered the road to Tornano, but I’m hooked now. I’ll be back again and again for this dirt road that makes me feel like I’m in the mountains. It feels a world apart from the Crete Senesi, which are so, so close at hand.
I can go on and on and on forever about this 180-kilometer loop. It has a bit of everything, but in my humble opinion, never too much of anything ... except for beautiful.
Photos by Gruber Images