GeoGravel Tuscany - Zero Edition.

Riding with Paolo Bettini to discover the wild and uncontaminated side of the metalliferous hills.

Dirt tracks through the woods, laughter, sun and then rain, ancient villages and unspoilt nature. The zero edition of Geogravel Tuscany was much more than a test, turning into an epic day out with friends, in the very spirit of authentic gravel, with some classic off programmes that made it all the more exciting. To the question "Is it to be done again?" it is natural to answer yes, absolutely yes. 

The morning of a rainbow weekend
Pomarance is one of those places where you immediately find the right friends, the ones who laugh at the same jokes, who meet at the bar after the six-hour ride and above all who never stop being curious, exploring trails along which they have not yet ridden. It was impossible to think of a better place to start GeoGravel Tuscany, which is basically a long, crazy, fun ride with friends to enjoy nature at its truest. Few plans, lots of enthusiasm. 

It is half past eight in the morning, the sun tries to disprove the gloomiest forecasts, and the group of early pioneers of this adventure gather at the camper van area and - specifically - around a smartphone with live coverage of the World Championships. In Australia the girls are racing for gold and the professional effort almost forces us to watch the last kilometres and everyone’s breath is bated. You know, with the World Championships we all get a bit technical. Above everyone - of course - is Paolo Bettini who, however, after seeing the finish, does not want to waste any time.

Off we go.

Long - Lunch in Bolgheri and the perfect storm
When Paolo Bettini says he wants to go to the sea, who could ever contradict him? You get to the coast by way of dirt, sometimes bumpy roads surrounded by maritime pines and that typical inland vegetation that nevertheless breathes in the salty air: these are the evocative Strade Grigie of the Val di Cecina. Bolgheri is the perfect set for a typical lunch of cured meats, crostini and wine, thanks to its evocative atmosphere that, however, cannot keep out the storm, a wow factor that will prove indispensable to transform an outing with friends into an authentic epic ride through rain, wind and everything else that makes adventure something unforgettable. It is dark when the heroes return to Pomarance, taking with them an experience to be recounted at the bar for months, forgetting the cold and remembering only the fun. 

Short - Beer, sandwiches and ancient villages with breathtaking views
The clouds gather in layers in the sky promising thunderstorms. Querceto is a pleasant little place nested in the hills. From one of its two alleys you can see the immensity that surrounds it, a breathtaking landscape as often is the case here: a narrow alley and then suddenly open spaces. Here it is easy to stop and think that the bicycle always takes you to unexpected places and that is what we long for all the time: to surprise ourselves. Before it starts raining there is just enough time to grab a sausage sandwich and beer for lunch in a typical ‘bar’ on the main road. A stretch of asphalt and then back into the woods for the other half of the day in the downpour. The landscape changes, the roads turn black and the hills are lost in the white mist until they almost disappear. The feeling of a thrilling adventure is something to toast to with a Spritz on the way back to Pomarance. It is good to still have that indescribable feeling of adrenaline in your body, the shower can wait a few more minutes. 

Long live Saturday night
How can a perfect day end? At the table, of course. One long enough to welcome everyone on an indoor terrace while the rain continues to pour down copiously outside. The Geogravel Tuscany has passed the test with flying colours and everyone is looking forward to 2023, even though cycling is all about celebrating the 'here and now', enjoying the moment and all that cycling can get you through. 

Cheers, to gravel and Saturday evenings like this one, in the company of friends, after a long ride out there.