Chris the La Corsa Guide Riding Abetone

08 Aug Riding Abetone – A One Day Guided Tour From Florence

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An HC Climb Near Florence

Many famous climbs of the Giro d’Italia like the Mortirollo or the Stelvio take place in the far north of the Italy. But within a day’s ride of Florence, there is an HC climb that, depending on where your support vehicle drops you off, can present a serious challenge or a monster ride.

For our day together, La Corsa chief guide Chris decided that the best bet would be to drive from Florence, park near Quarrata to the north and ride from there. This gave us the advantage of some flat for a warm up, but would mean a healthy 140km total loop for the day. With that climb right in the middle. The alternative was a shorter ride but would mean straight into a steep climb with cold legs. He gave me the choice and I went for the first option.

Espresso stop on the way up

The Heat of Tuscany

Adding to the difficulty of our one day bike tour, the temperature had recently risen in Tuscany. After some unseasonably wet weather (which had caught out some of the pros during the Chianti Time Trial stage of the Giro this year), the thermometer was now showing a seriously sweat-inducing 32 celcius. Of course, it’s a benefit of climbing: the drop in temperature as we went up would give us some respite.

Much like many sportives, gran fondos and even an Etape du Tour, you’ll arrive at the base of the climb having done a fair amount uphill already. It was this way for us, racking up 1100m of climbing before the main HC segment arrived, Chris set a sympathetic, gentle rhythm to the base of the Abetone south eastern approach before allowing me to decide on my own pace for the climb.

Bottle refills are essential in the Tuscan summer heat

5.4 Percent Doesn’t Sound Too Bad But…

Perhaps it was the heat, or the 68km leading up to it but the winding road up to Abetone felt a lot more severe than the 5.4% average stated on Strava (link). Flatter sections mean that some considerable time is spent at 8 or 9%. Chris assured me that my Garmin was auto-pausing because it was losing the satellite connection and not because I was dropping below the speed threshold. But I’m not so sure…

Reaching towards the top, the houses took on the familiar mountain style, normally seen far to the north. Once the ski lifts and ski rental shops start coming into view, Florence feels a long way away. It is remarkable to be so close to a mountain that feels more like the Dolomites or the Alps than Tuscany. Indeed, ride a bit further and you can be in Emilia Romagna. For those seeking even more punishment, Abetone can also be reached from the north western approach, it’s “only” a Cat 2 but piled on top of what has come before, it’ll feel like more for most riders. Certainly, getting food right is essential on this kind of ride and my hunger caught up with me as I wolfed down my (very tasty) ham and cheese sandwich at the top. Stopping just long enough to savour the satisfaction and refuel, with calories and caffeine on board, we headed back down.

Some local riders on the way down from Abetone

The descent was a joy and, as almost always, over far too quickly. There are a few switchbacks that need serious attention but for the most part, it’s a sweeping road, in and out of forest and because the summer is the off-season in these parts, remarkably light of traffic save for the odd group of local motorcyclists.

As cyclists with busy lives, jobs, families and commitments, a one week cycling holiday can seem like an unrealistic luxury. But with the fantastic hills of Chianti in the south and mountains like Abetone to the north, anyone staying in Florence or in Tuscany who can spare one day can easily get a cycling fix that can create memories to rival any multi-day trip.

At La Corsa Tours, we are best known for our week-long guided bicycle tours but with a custom one day tour, we can organise everything for a prefect day’s cycling in Tuscany. And all you have to do is pedal.

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