Starting out with close to 450 other riders in a part of Italy I know very little about was always going to be an adventure.
The Glory Roads Gravel Ride is either 80 km or 150 km (depending on which route you take) of fine Italian strade bianche, cobbled climbs, amazing views and wine. The routes take you through some of the most amazing scenery one can imagine, let along the historic towns and cities that dot the area.
As we set off from Elite Cycling’s HQ the sun had barely risen and we were soon blasting through country lanes and onto various gravel paths. We clearly had been swept up by the groups wanting to make headway as we covered the first 15 kilometers without taking in as much as we hoped.
Soon we decided to step back, take things at our own pace and make sure that we made the most of the ride. Its not everyday you get to see these kind of sights, ride these gravel roads and take in the history of Italy. Also being a gravel ride you couldn’t have asked for anything better than a huge quarry that produced…….gravel. It was fun cycling through that as we made our way forward.
Now due to the ride starting at dawn neither of us had had our morning coffee, but in Italy this is never a huge problem. As we reached one of the first towns there were several to choose from and finding one that other riders had stopped at always makes things easier, especially when you don’t speak the language. There is nothing better in the morning than a strong espresso and fresh pastry to get you going, Italy did not disapoint.
Even though Glory Roads has been running for several years it is hardly known outside Italy. Falling the week before L’Eroica in Tuscany it does attract much of the same crown, only on much more modern light-weight bikes. The hills are just as big maxing out at close to 25% and the long dusty tracks go on for miles. It is amazing what you can see in the distance when you approch from tracks or roads barely used today.
We soon departed and made our way towards on of the huge climbs we were warned about. That being said there are several, most of which take you into or close to one of the historic towns on the route. There always seems to be some kind of saint or religious icon at the top, I thanked God on more than one occasion when reaching the top without having to stop. Some of the gravel paths are covered in boulders and if you take the wrong path there is very little choice but to get off and back track.
The two towns that stood out for us, not that others didn’t, had to be Bassano Del Grappa, a city in northern Italy’s Veneto region. It’s known for its wooden, 13th-century Ponte Vecchio bridge spanning the River Brenta. If you manage to take some time off the bike there are sweeping views from the medieval Civic Tower and you can easily find somewhere to try the local speciality….Grappa!
The second was Asolo. It is known as “The Pearl of the province of Treviso”, and also as “The City of a Hundred Horizons” for its mountain settings. This was one of the best feed stops we have ever had, mainly due to the pints of wine we were being given, the huge sandwiches (I wish I had photographed them) and the fact it was the middle of the day and the sun was close to 38c from our calculations. Sitting in one of the side streets out of the sun, drinking red wine and watching the world go by has to be one of the highlights of such an event.
Once we had filled out bottles (with water) and started to make our way down the same climb we had just come up on. We were soon back on track and the route had us passing through small fields of corn, winding canal paths and past huge country houses. All of which were breathtaking on what was an amazing summers day.
One thing that makes this ride special has to be the the unique route taking you through so many different areas. Every 10-15 kilometers you seem to find something different. Whether it be old towns or huge stretches of gravel paths there is something for everyone on the Glory Roads.
For more information visit https://gloryroads.it/