It has been a hectic few weeks for the Breakaway Team, Wales, Italy then France. We thought it was about time we sat down for a cheeky espresso or two to find out what Dan our founder and in this case man behind the camera has been up to on his latest assignment in Italy.
I guess considering how much muck is still on your Reilly, Tuscany was everything we might imagine?
Last weekend I was joined by Liam “Yung Yates” in Tuscany for one of RPM90’s slightly closer to home adventure gravel experiences in rural Italy. I love Italy, but only having been there for short city breaks I hadn’t been lucky enough to ride there as yet so when Nick mentioned the opportunity to ride our Reilly’s around some of Tuscany’s white gravel roads I was sure I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.
Nick was running one of his famous RPM90 gravel weekenders and was looking for some on bike photography and to share the experience with Breakaway in order to try to open up it’s offering to a wider audience. Not that Nick needed much promotion that is, I mean he’s already considered an expert for his knowledge of the gravel in the region and consistently running bespoke and corporate trips out to his famous Tuscan farmhouse hidden in the hills.
Upon arriving in Pisa we jumped into our transfer bus and headed further South. Within a matter of minutes, the scenery had already transformed. We swept past the iconic Strade Bianche that we know and love from the spring classics. The excitement was certainly growing. As too were the nerves. I’m a roadie you see and with only a recent trip to Wales to tackle Gritfest and a few ventures onto the South Downs with Liam, I didn’t consider myself much of a gravel rider.
For this trip, I decided to keep my setup super lightweight. I’d be using the Sony a6500 with a 30mm Sigma prime lens. I knew this could sit nicely across my back and allow me to capture all the action alongside the riders on the move. I didn’t want to have to keep jumping on and off and it was important I stayed with the guys and not force any unnecessary delays. It’s quite acceptable to sneak in an extra espresso delaying proceedings but nobody wants to arrive back late because I insisted on that extra shot.
We had a comprehensive itinerary lined up for the trip which was to include several other riders Nick already had booked on, but ability and experience where similar matched so it meant we could further our range from day to day and test out a few of Nicks famous “just up there” shortcuts. If I learnt one thing aside from Nick is the master of gravel its that he keeps actual distances close to his chest.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Tuscany, I knew it was beautiful but had no idea how extensive the gravel roads were across the region or that so much of it was so accessible. If you were looking to avoid traffic and move in and out of small-towns one coffee at a time the routes Nick has devised are simply perfect. Aside from the odd farmer heading out to plough his field or prune his vines the white roads were empty. Ours to play!
Each day we’d arrive back at the farmhouse suitably hot and dusty only to be met by our friendly hosts who put on cold drinks and quite frankly the best olives I’d ever tasted. This was my first year enjoying olives I have to admit but I’d like to think I’d tasted enough cold counter samples to know a good one by now. Having taken the edge off the day’s ride calorie deficit I headed back to the sanctuary of our room to begin the real work, the edit! Liam our breakaway influencer would already be calling first dibs on the shower so this meant I could hunker down in the corner in my dusty bib shorts and begin downloading the days images. On all Breakaway shoots we try to be as productive and effective as possible, meaning once the days action has died down we’ll slope off and begin editing the pictures taken during the day to ensure the client can have full exclusive access as soon as possible. When creating content for social we know how important is to be the first, but unfortunately in most cases users will compromise quality for speed and we strive to ensure both.
The Farmhouse itself we shared with a few non cycling travellers whom all in all made meal times and after ride encounters a welcome break. Aside from the shared experiences of Italy we were able to share stories of new experiences and hidden local gems we’d equally all uncovered be it by bike or by foot during the day.
The open dining and tranquil setting made for an incredible experience I’ve not encountered before on a cycling trip. Nick has really gone above and beyond in his quest to become Tuscany’s gravel expert. Prosecco lead evenings and 5-course fine dining certainly made for a unique and memorable experience and cement his claim.
All in all riding the white gravel roads of Tuscany was incredible! On 38mm tyres at times I found the descents a little challenging, especially with the camera dangling round my neck. But that said it’s a true gravel playground ready to be enjoyed and I can’t imagine a better guide than RPM90.