The two sides of dual riding
Saturday’s tour consists of a loop around the Amiata Mountain passing through the Val d’Orcia: Montepulciano to the North, Castel del Piano to the South, and then returning to Radicofani.
The morning starts with a wade and a dirt-road lined with cypresses; easy stuff for the skilled in off-road, but even if it is true that everybody set their own pace in enduro, with dual bikes the difference increases: the weight of the bike complicates everything in off-road and the participants aren’t always skilled off-roaders.
This is why a short rocky climb, or a small ditch, slow the group down; however, even if at an elastic-like pace, the group proceeds along the trail over tree-filled hills and through acres of vineyards until it reaches a road sign that explains everything: Montalcino!
This is a tiny patch of land that created a true and personal culture out of its care of traditions, territory and agriculture. A region famous worldwide for its Brunello wine, a nectar that gives work to the whole region and enriches the landscape with rows of grapevines.
I never saw vineyards kept so well, every plant is knowingly pruned and precisely tied to its support, an obsessively ordered weave that looks printed, almost sculpted, on the hills, beautiful before being productive.
We have lunch here, amongst the rows of grapevines … a serving of pasta, a pie, a glass of wine and off we go again.
In the afternoon, the other side of dual comes out! The group splits: some want to keep running on the dirt-roads of the Brunello, others want to let the horses loose and put the suspensions of their big enduros at work.
At this point, Carlo enters the scene: on his old Africa Twin, setup ad hoc, he proposes to take us riding “bad enduro”, scaring the fearful and stirring up the cunning. And luckily so!
The pace changes in a big way, we are really using our horsepower now and the suspensions work hard, Carlo leads us along the trails of the KTM Trophy which was held in this area only a few weeks ago.
The big enduros now are really racing, they are so fast as to overcome even the prejudices of who thinks they can only take on dirt-roads. These bikes, with the right tires and a bit of skills can really do a lot, maybe not everything … but almost!
We race up and down along canyons and loose rocks until we reach Castelnuovo dell’Abate, a tiny cluster of houses lost amongst the mountains. We stop for a cold drink and to wait for the latecomers.
In the bar/restaurant the only Italians are the owners! To our great surprise the people sitting at the tables speak northern-European or Far-Eastern languages. I appreciate the luck of living in a Country like this, where the cities are full of history and beauty and tourists visit the small postcard-like borghi, a distributed richness without equals.
Carlo’s “bad enduro” finishes here, we rejoin the others and smoothly along the dirt-roads that circle the Amiata Mountain, we return to the B&B in Radicofani for the night and for a dinner where the pitchers of wine are hardly left empty.