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Steve's "Sabbatical" - Part 5

The word sabbatical has a new meaning! This is the new 2.0 version of work life balance. ​

There are places so breathtaking that when you see them you feel compelled to pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. Val D’Orcia in Tuscany is one of those spots. Considered by many as one of the most beautiful man made environments on the planet, it is so inspiring that the entire valley has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

Val D’Orcia, is criss-crossed with gravel roads that are locally referred to as strade bianche or white roads. The gravel they are made of isn’t quite white, but in contrast to the lush countryside, they do appear, especially on bright sunny days, as white.

A recent trend in cycling is gravel biking. Bikes have been specifically engineered for this terrain. Part of this trend is for rides to be organized to fully enjoy these roads by stringing together ideal circuits. A few weeks ago I participated in such an event - Val D’Orcia Gravel.

The ride started in the hilltop town of Montalcino - the home of Brunello wine. We rented a little home in town so that it would be easy to be ready for the 9am start. About 4 hours later I was back in Montalcino and fully whipped! Along the way I made some friends and rode with some locals.

It’s typical in events like this for the sponsors to provide some nourishment along the way. In this case after a particularly difficult hill climb I arrived at a rest stop and was warmly greeted and offered a large bowl of farro. Of course it was delicious and hit the spot. The older lady serving it was pleased to watch me gobble it up and informed me that if I wished to make it myself, I could find the recipe on the event’s website. I chuckled inside thinking that only in Italy would a website for a bike ride include a recipe for farro!

A presto,



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