Gravel Biking: Tackling Tuscany's Strade Bianche with Edoardo Bausani
We caught up with B&R guide, Edoardo Bausani, to find out why he wants to take travellers gravel biking on the strade bianche (white roads) of his native Tuscany.
Biking was how we hit the road on the first B&R trip. And ever since, it’s been the main way we get around on most of our journeys.
We’ve expanded our horizons and taken up walking, e-biking, and even sailing. But it’s time we got back to our roots and took our two-wheels to new heights—in the hills of Tuscany.
For our avid cyclists, we’ve heard your plea for more clicks, inclines, and intricate terrain: Tuscany Gravel Biking is the first installment in a new series of challenging active trips we’ll be launching this year.
To get the inside scoop, we spoke with Edoardo Bausani, a long-time bike guide who designed the journey, which culminates in this home town of Gaiole in Chianti.
Take the Road Less Travelled
Warm up your quads for this super-charged journey along the gravel roads that connect Tuscany’s hilltop towns. The postcard-perfect scenes of the Tuscany you always imagined: guaranteed.DETAILED ITINERARY
The Slow Road: Can you tell us about your background, and what inspired you to design a gravel biking trip in Tuscany?
Edoardo: I’ve been a B&R guide for four years, though I’ve been in the industry for about 10. I’m from Gaiole in Chianti in Tuscany, a town of avid cyclists, and home to the annual L’Eroica bike event. L’Eroica started in 1997 with 25 people. Today, it attracts thousands of cyclists from around the world.
The race runs 209 km (180 mi.) through the heart of the Terre di Siena, crossing Chianti, the Crete Senesi, and the Val d’Orcia. It mostly follows Tuscany’s strade bianche (white roads), which are the unpaved, gravel roads that connect the region’s smaller villages.
When I was 21 years old, I participated in the race for the first time, and it opened me up to a new world of biking. I wanted to introduce this folklore to our travellers and show them an authentic side of Tuscany that you can’t experience from the main asphalt roads.
The Slow Road: What are the gravel roads like, and what does taking them offer travellers that’s different from our other Tuscany biking trips?
Edoardo: These roads immerse you in nature, far from noise and traffic. I think the routes we take on this trip are closer to what people envision when they think of Tuscany: being totally disconnected—like a trip back in time—through vineyards and wide-open, rolling countryside and farmland, dotted with cypress trees.
The gravel roads are infrequently used, meaning they’re in great shape. A gravel surface is somewhat similar to an asphalt road in that it’s quite hard, though, at times, it can get a little slippery. However, with our bikes from 3T (more on this to come), you’re guaranteed a comfortable ride.
The focus is really on the biking rather than on other activities you may experience on another Tuscany biking trip, meaning we might skip a winery visit or a cooking class in favour of more time on the saddle.
The Slow Road: Can you tell us about the bikes? How are they different from road bikes, and why are they suited for gravel roads?
Edoardo: We partnered with a company called 3T, a boutique brand based in Italy. They used to make bike bits for high-end models, but have now shifted into exclusively building gravel bikes by hand. We immediately saw the parallels between their niche product with an artisanal touch and B&R, and we knew we were a great match.
Gravel bikes are similar to road bikes but with thicker wheels (4 cm wide versus 2 cm wide) and better tire grip, plus a more stable braking system (disc breaks instead of calibre breaks). The angled frame also offers a more comfortable, upright position.
The bikes are effortless to ride, and off gravel roads, it feels much like riding a road bike.
The Slow Road: Who should be taking this trip?
Edoardo: If you already know what gravel biking is, and you’re comfortable riding in changing conditions, then this trip is for you. You don’t need to be a mountain biker, but we do recommend you have previous experience on terrain other than asphalt. If you want to test out a gravel road for yourself beforehand, we suggest finding a route near you using Gravel Map.
Keep in mind, too, that aside from terrain, the hills of Tuscany offer up some challenging climbs. The technology of the bike will make it easier to take them on, but you’ll need to rely on the power of your legs to reach the top.
The Slow Road: What can travellers expect from our challenging line of trips, and what’s coming up next?
Edoardo: These trips are for people who want to hit the road with us to get active. The days will be a bit different from the usual B&R schedule, like quicker lunches, fewer leisure activities, and dialled up action.
But we won’t ignore where we are and will still take time to dive into the local culture. You can expect to experience our staple touches, including exceptional accommodations and lingering dinners paired with good wine (you’ll be more deserving of it than ever!).
We’ll roll out more of these trips in places where it naturally makes sense to so like classic road climbs in the French Alps or taking on multi-active terrain in Peru.
To stay informed on our new trip releases, or if you want to book a private adventure, get in touch with one of our expert trip planners.