Riding the Dragon’s Back

Tuscany Tour: Day One

The La Strada del Vino climbs steadily up the into the Tuscan hills through various medievel villages, winneries, then back down endless curves and towards the coast. Both of us said, “wow; well that was cool; whoa – best ride ever,” as we carved the turns like we were in a pro race. We dove into the apex, no brakes, and out the other side with a few hard pedal strokes. Later at dinner, I described the descent as “riding a dragon’s back.” The Tuscan dragon has 108 curves in an 8 kilometer descent.


Rolling past Venturina into San VincenzoStage 9 of the 08 Giro – we felt the speed of the slight descent, tailwind, and I imagined the crowds for the sprint finish. We got a late start and as the sun went down, turned the safety lights on, and arrived back at Zi Martino, our hotel.

Our next ride was North around the Volterra area, starting at Casole d’ Esla. I’ll write more about that and our ride to Bolgheri in the next post.

Tuscany Bikes & Gear

We rode our S&S equipped bikes on this trip and brought gear supplied by

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Routes and ride recommendations provided by Viva Travels.


I drove the Tuscan Hills in a Smart Car a few years back.  Then entire time I was thinking, “Wow - that descent would be great on a bike” or “I could ride here all day!”.


Speaking of that, it’s amazing how many smart cars you see and we also fully appreciate small cars european cars; especially passing semis on medieval castles! We held our [breath on this one](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/2931278692/in/set-72157607700757127/).

I’d recommend you ride there in shape—there isn’t any leg breakers but just steady ups and downs. Good thing is that the Italians have no knowledge of chipseal—the roads are amazing. Of course, when the Giro comes into a town, they have to repave and so everyone benefits from that.

A couple notes on the roads

* White Line is optional—do not hug that on the curves
* No stops—there is no stopping, stops signs are for stupid tourists.
* Hand signals—Italian drivers do not recognize your urban American hand signals. It’s better to just let them pass you before making a lane change.

Pam and I disagree on this, but my theory is that when you come into a roundabout, you should accelerate, throwing your head back, and whip through that sucker like you’re on a roulette wheel. We agreed to disagree.

Also, I decided if the road engineers put a roundabout at the tippy top of a long climb to a castle, then I’m riding right into that sucker and the cars just better get the f out the way!


Getting [lost is part of it](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/2930458877/).

Wow, I mean this in the nicest way: I hate you.

Just kidding. Please keep the posts and pictures coming, I’m overcoming my envy sufficiently well to enjoy the vicarious trip…

Don’t hate the playah, hate the game! Thanks and I hope by sharing these stories people may find their way to Tuscany to ride. It’s really a mecca for cyclists.

I’m a little disappointed that you haven’t taken a pic of 1) pizza 2) some espresso 3) gelato and 4) a glass of Chianti.

Now get to work…

When we were in Tuscany last Spring, we had fun putting our small Lancia rental car in places where our Volvo would not have fit.  There were a couple of ‘have faith’ one way streets in Montepulciano that I just had to try twice.  Driving through the front gate of San Quirico D’Orcia was entertaining, as the tour bus parked out front had its occupants looking at us in disbelief as we squeezed through the 3.5 meter opening.

Can’t wait to go back with bikes someday.

And another thing, make sure to have some pasta with cinghiale sauce.  Just saying cinghiale makes you feel good.  And of course, have a big, thick, rare, Tuscan steak.  Best ever.

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