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Nowadays, celebrating May 1st may be less about traditional festivities and more about being grateful for a long weekend. In Tuscany, however, Andrea Borchi might be sparking a new kind of tradition – one that definitely does not involve resting.
As a bikepacker since 2008, Andrea has undertaken several rides across southern Europe, tackling Corsica, the Dolomites and Italy coast to coast. Yet throughout his adventures, he has always been drawn to his home region of Tuscany.
And so the idea of the Tuscany Trail was born.
“The Tuscany Trail arose out of my desire to share my philosophy on sport. It’s not a race, it’s an adventure,” Andrea explains.
“The project started two years ago when I began searching for itineraries I could complete during my holidays. It’s a collection of all the itineraries I’d identified. The hardest part was avoiding paved roads as much as possible, without including too many arduous paths.”
Piecing together tracks that he discovered on his travels and exploring new terrain, Andrea was able to establish a route that was 50% off-road and runs through some of the most beautiful places in Tuscany. It passes no less than five UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the historic centre of Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, and the landscape of the Val d’Orcia.
In the spirit of bikepacking, Andrea was determined to keep the route as centred around nature as possible, charting a course through the Apuan Alps and along the stunning coastline of the Argentario.
“I like narrow, unpaved paths that cross woodland. I like being far from busy roads and seeing landscapes from high above. I like climbs, especially the most difficult ones.”
The final route was one of moderate difficulty if excluding the Apuan Alps, with 600 kilometres of track and 9000 metres of altitude.
On May 1st, over 80 bikepackers began their Tuscany Trail adventures. The fastest time was 56 hours and 45 minutes, and 41 riders made the finish line. “The most challenging aspect was the weather. It rained a lot on the first two days, which made the off-road sections very muddy.”
Although a previously unridden route, the Tuscany Trail proved to be great success, attracting a wide range of participants from seasoned athletes to first-timers. And Andrea has no plans to leave it as a one-off event.
“The Tuscany Trail will become a permanent itinerary. People will be able to sign up and take part throughout the year.”
As for his own bikepacking adventures, Andrea has plenty more rides lined up – when he’s not keeping himself busy with running the Italian bikepacking website bikepacking.it.
“A dream I’ve wanted to realise for quite some time is the TransCorsica. I think that my next trip will be to Corsica, in search of an itinerary that crosses the island from North to South.”