Italy is well known to cyclists for its white gravel farm roads, mainly thanks to the annual Strade Bianche classic and Eroica gran fondo events held in central Tuscany. But Italy’s heartland does not have ownership of these memorable pathways. In fact, they can be found around much of Italy, where limestone remains rich throughout this fertile land. Even in the north, where the plains of the eastern Veneto region climb into the Alps, the white chalk-like roads can be found skirting the vineyards and olive orchards on the lush hillsides that dot this rich landscape.

They provide the perfect terrain to test Wilier-Triestina’s elegant new Jaroon gravel bike. “It’s the perfect compromise,” says Luca, who lives in Bassano del Grappa. “It’s is the ideal way to bring together mountain biking and road riding.” Luca, who is a top local mountain biker, jumped at the chance to try out the new Jaroon. And he looked no further than the local grappa vineyards around Bassano—home to one of the world’s most coveted liqueurs—to test ride this elegant bike with its steel frame and carbon fork.

As he suited up, it was clear that Luca was more than ready as he wiped clean his stylish Moncler vintage ski glasses. And soon enough he was off, sprinting up the first rise and jumping off the descent. “I come from mountain biking, so the gravel bike is really exciting to me,” he said. “I just love to be able to get off the main roads and get away from it all. And the Jaroon allows me to go off road while still maintaining a road feel. I just love the gravel bike. It has a different feel than mountain bikes. There is something more direct about them. And of course as soon as you start climbing you feel the difference.”

Luca loved the added stiffness when climbing and he was also attracted to the bike’s graceful lines, assured in no small part by the Jaroon’s tasteful interior-welding method. And while the Jaroon has the classic looks of any Wilier bike, it is clearly a modern machine.

“What better way to ride through the these historic vineyards. Our own strade bianche are just perfect for gravel,” Luca says. Indeed these hills of northern Italy ooze history, and control of them was highly sought after in both World Wars. The grappa area is part of a vibrant modern industrial region, and for decades it has been home to much of the Italian bike industry. But while the roads nestled in the valleys of this region can often be heavily trafficked, once on these old farm roads, time fades away. Luca took in the scenery as he cruised past aging farmhouses. But he also enjoyed attacking the steep pitches often found here. And in keeping with any self-respecting mountain biker, he reveled in the technical descents.

“The Jaroon is really a wonderful compromise between mountain biking and the road,” he added. “I have the freedom of getting off the roads, but I still have the feel of a road bike.”

 

Words/Images: James Startt