This is My Ride with Allroads.cc

Have you ever asked yourself, If I could pick just one country to ride for the rest of my days, which would it be? Or maybe you are more inclined to the foodie version: If I could eat one cuisine for the rest of my life, what would it be? Of course, there are more niche versions of this game: where you would go for your favourite stretch of road, favourite mountain vista, town, dish.

It will come as no surprise that at ALLROADS we play this game a lot, and Italy is the country that consistently comes top of mind. Our relationship with this part of the world is long, deep, passionate, occasionally complicated, often hilarious, and always rewarding. For years we have explored every corner in search of that perfect stretch of road, well-appointed hotel, local cuisine, and the creamiest gelato: from the heights of the Gavia Pass to the rambling gravel roads in the Tuscan countryside.

This spring we were in Siena for Strade Bianche.

Benvenuti in paradiso.

DAY 01

Siena. We woke up to the sound of a passionate Italian driver and a view of a church beyond the historic city walls. A single thought lingers in my mind: “Heaven is somewhere out there.”

Our van arrived yesterday. The bikes have been assembled, ready to tackle 140km of the Strade Bianche route. The excitement among us is palpable. We linger over breakfast, mostly discussing the weather. It’s windy and tad chilly for Toscana in early March, but nothing that will stop a group of Scandinavians from enjoying the Crete Senesi.

Literally translated as “clays of Siena”, Crete Sensi is an area just south of the walled city characterized by steep undulating hills, solitary oaks and cypresses, and isolated farms at the top of the heights that have fed the Tuscan aristocracy for generations. The name comes from the characteristic clay known as mattaione, which gives the soil its distinct grey colour.

As we set off, we quickly found out what was in store for us over the next 4-5 hours. The course is grimpeur/puncheur heaven. Up, down, up, down. Winding its way through the Tuscan countryside, it kept us on our toes from start to finish. Beautiful, but never easy.

The gravel roads were compact, even though it rained the night before – providing a certain level of security to tackle the steep descents. It was hard not to notice the difference in terms of tire choice and pressure, as some of us with higher volume tires (30-35mm) found it much easier to navigate and enjoy the course.

As we wound our way back to Siena, we found ourselves dreaming of warmer summer days over coffee, lingering late into the evening on one of the many gravel roads in the area.

DAY 02

Food – especially pasta, wine, and meat – is religion in Tuscany. It’s one of those places where you’ll witness heated discussions about how a dish should be prepared, or where butchers are highly regarded for their craft and manage to hold on to prime real estate for generations.

We are off to the region of Chianti, north of Siena, to pay a visit to Cecchini. Maybe not the Cecchini you have in mind, but Dario Cecchini, one of Tuscany’s more famous butchers. Just ask Netflix.

Veterinarian by trade, he decided to elevate his craft by paying respect to every part of the animal along the way. He’s been doing it for 48 years. Way before his raison d’être attracted the likes of Netflix, food and wine was served on the street outside his butcher shop, or macellaria. These days, things are bit more ‘civilized’, as there is also a modest restaurant across the street under his name.

After a short stop at Panzano in Chianti for hearty sustenance and a glass of rosso, four of us took the scenic way back to Siena. Rolling hills and vineyards stretched in every direction, as far as the eye could see. The road was ours. At this point rain was a constant, but the weather didn’t dampen our spirits. Testing each other on every hill and sharing stories on the descents, we arrived back in Siena with a smile and story to tell.

Today was a good day.

DAY 03

Siena and its surroundings take on a different dimension during the weekend of Strade Bianche. Pro teams, spectators, photographers, press, media. A cacophony of different languages surrounds us as we try to navigate the crowded streets of the old town. A feeling of anticipation is in the air. It’s race day.

Our plan was to go to the gravel section of San Martino in Grania to catch the action before returning to Siena in time to experience the final.

By the time we reached San Martino, the roads were filled with fans – or tiffosi – camper vans, flags, beer, young and old. Belgian techno was blasting from a loudspeaker. We hear the official helicopter getting closer and catch a glimpse of the race in the distance, Pogacar and his UAE train at the pointy end. The pace is high. A reduced peloton hits the gravel in front of us and the race disappears in what feels like a split second – and everyone turns to the screen.

On Monte Sante Marie, Pogacar keeps his promise and takes off not to be seen again. He entered Siena and the last climb of Santa Caterina with enough of a time gap to shake hands and kiss babies. The passion of the tiffosi echoes through the ancient streets. We are part of modern day Palio. With arms aloft, he greets the crowds on Piazza del Campo for a historic win.

This race is like no other.


For our Siena Escape we chose the Argon 18 Krypton Pro. It’s not a gravel bike, nor a road bike: it’s an all-road machine with an Italian character that feels at home on the mixed Tuscan terrain. With 35mm tires the Krypton Pro feels like a dream – it climbs exceptionally well and evokes confidence on the gravel descents. As for the looks, we are big fans.