Maats Tuscany Trip
For approxamility 15 years the Strade Bianche has been ridden around Siena at the beginning of March. Despite the fact that this race is not officially a monument (yet), it is one of the most beautiful one-day races on the calendar. This is mainly due to the fabulous hilly and mind-blowing surroundings, the 11 unpaved gravel strokes (Settore Sterrato) and of course the iconic arrival at the Piazza del Campo in Siena. It was Maats' long-cherished wish to organize a multi-day cycling trip in Tuscany with friends and customers. This fall it was finally possible again.
The villa we rented in San Rocco a Pili located at one of the Strade Bianche sections
Since the establishment of Maats, we have organized several cycling trips abroad. Due to COVID this was not possible for a long time, but finally this period is behind us and we can now organize beautiful trips across the border again. Italy is a country for which we have always had warm feelings because of the beautiful nature, breathtaking villages and, last but not least, worlds best cuisine and wines. Last October, a long cherished wish of ours came true. We rented a beautiful villa located on the Strade Bianche route and enjoyed five days in Tuscan gravel heaven. We created a Komoot collection where you can find all the routes.
The participants took a flight from Amsterdam to Florence on Wednesday afternoon. After a taxi ride of about an hour they arrived at our residence near the town of San Rocco a Pili. The day before we drove a bus, containing all the bikes and luggage, from Amsterdam to Tuscany and we welcomed the participants with a delicious dinner.
Watch the aftermovie to get the perfect impression of our trip in Tuscany
Stage 1: Strade Warm-up
We started the week on Thursaday, with a ride to get used to the Tuscan gravel. The route was approximately 80 km and there was a coffee/lunch stop halfway in the town of Monticiano, where it seemed as if time had stood still for the last fifty years. The route was mainly on tarmac, but along the way we also encountered some gravel sections so that we could prepare for (both physically and mentally) what would follow the days after.
Calm before the ride started in the early morning
Every day started with a steep climbing after descending the hill our Villa was located on
Stage 2: Strade Womens Loop
On day two we rode a route that was inspired by the womens race of the Strade Bianche. Approximately 120 km with 2500 meters of climbing and of course a large number of Settore Sterrato segments. We stopped in Asciano for coffee and on the Piazza del Campo in Siena for lunch. After this it was still about 25 km to the villa. While enjoying a cold drink, there was a long discussion about the beautiful route with amazing views and landscapes.
Iconic views like these made all the efforts worthwhile
Stage 3: Strade Mens Loop
After two tough days, on day three it was time to explore the most southern part of the Strade. A route of approximately 125 km and 2250 altitude meters. For a part of the group, the first two challenging days had taken their toll and they chose to shorten the route after the coffee stop in Buonconvento. The riders who opted for the long route were treated to a breathtakingly beautiful stretch between Torrenieri and Lucignano d'Asso. Beautiful area with vineyards and olive trees with the unpaved sections of the Strade Bianche in between. One of the most beautiful places we've ever rode our bikes. After a delicious lunch in (again) Buonconvento it was another 50 km through the hills back to the villa in San Rocco.
Maats CEO Rob trying to get some speed on one of sections around Torrenieri
Stage 4: Back to Siena or Back down South
On the last day we didn't really had a plan and everyone was free to do what they wanted. A group of riders wanted to go to Siena again, but then via the other side to take a few more beautiful pictures on the world-famous square of Piazza del Campo. Another part of the group that had chosen to ride the shorter route the day before rode to Buonconvento again on the advice of the rest to do the beautiful loop towards Montalcino from there.
On the last evening we made pizzas in the woodfired oven and of course drank a few nice glasses of Tuscan wine. The next day the return flight to the Netherlands awaited the participants and we drove back to Maats Amsterdam by bus filled with bikes, good stories and great memories.
We had to wait a few years for it, but what was it great to go on the road again. Five days in Tuscany in early October were fantastic, also because of the great weather. We can absolutely recommend this area at this time of year. On forehand there was a lot of discussion about which type of bike (road or gravel) and which tires would be ideal to ride the Strade Bianche. Our final conclusion was that this is perfectly doable on your road bike (partly due to the large amount of asphalt roads in between) but that it is nice to opt for a slightly wider tire (preferably 30-32 mm) because then you also have a good grip on the famous gravel sections.
Next to that keep in mind that it is nowhere really steep but also nowhere flat. The region around Siena consists of mainly rolling hills without climbs being really long and steep for a longer period of time. This profile is perfect for riders with a lot of power who can come over a (short) climb. Lets say a type of rider like MvdP.... 😉
Grazie Toscano, noi torneremo... / Thank You Tuscany, we will be back...