If you had to explain what the secret of gravel success is, you could tell this story.Once upon a time there was a very strong rider, a two-time road world champion and Olympic champion, who had ridden the roads around his home hundreds, thousands of times during his life. In two decades of training he had learnt to get to know every bend, every straight stretch, every downhill and every uphill within a hundred kilometres. At least, as far as asphalt roads were concerned.
Three years ago, because of the pandemic that limited his movements, this now former rider began to explore another world, barely visible but which had always been there at hand, hidden by the oak woods of the metalliferous hills, between Chianti and the ‘Costa degli Etruschi’.
Suddenly, a parallel universe opened up to him, no longer made up of traffic, horns, dangerous crossroads and exasperated agonism, but rather of paths, silence, streams to ford, white (or grey) roads on which to pedal for sheer pleasure.
It immediately seemed, to the champion of our story, that he had returned, as if by magic, to the essence of the bicycle, to the origins of cycling, when the two wheels were something simple: a new, fantastic game that allowed one to explore wider horizons.
He also realised that those gravel roads, instead of slowing him down, were propelling him towards a kind of rediscovered happiness - a feeling of communion with nature, of cycling as meditation, as a journey, as self-discovery.