Veneto Gravel: Volevi la Gravel, pedala!

Bikepacking is gaining in importance in Italy and with international highlights like Tuscany Trail as a an outrider it was natural that other regions of Italy will follow. The range of bikepacking and gravel routes is growing and growing – very pleasing.

Veneto Gravel is a successful compromise to provide the growing segment of gravel bikes or cross bikes much more than just a route with alternating terrain and surfaces. From road biking to trail biking – it’s all there.

The 2017 edition started in Piazzola sul Brenta. A relatively unknown nest – but the hometown of the initiator Roberto. As is the case for a long-distance event, the start takes place in the Audax/Brevet mode. At 10 pm Italian time, the troupe of almost 200 participants will start at the first edition of the Veneto Gravel. With 185 starter packages Roberto did not expect, especially since the advertising costs have kept very limited.

Start with Audax / Brevet tuning – 185 participants push in the pedal at 10 pm.

On bike paths, agricultural roads, side roads and smooth trails, the route passes through vineyards, corn fields, suburbs, borghi and city centers. The route has a total of almost 600 km and just under 2,000 climbing meters according to my GPX record. The event takes place in self-supported style. To become first or last is not the decisive factor: to persevere, to make friends – with people, animals, nature and culture, that is the aim of the event. But nevertheless, because of cycling one is there!

Almost at the end of the tour on the Lago di Arsiè in the Valbelluna

For me personally it was my first participation in a self-supported bikepacking event and I will become a repeat offender. The during-the-night driving was mental, in the preparation time, the biggest challenge. Being on the road with a lamp and stubbornly following a GXP track made me quarrel a bit – but it worked.

Not to call the route a highlight would be a kind of fake news. The Colli del Soave, Vicenza, the Arena in Verona, the Venetian Lagoon, the landscapes of the Sile, the old town of Treviso, Prosecco hills, the Dolomites, Feltre, etc. Experiencing the whole Veneto by bike is “Veneto Gravel”.

The weather during the 2017 edition was cold, damn cold for the season. When the first rays of the sun on the never ending straight between Rovigo and Mestre heated my feet much too slowly, we were already about 200 km on the way. Tempo, landscape, companions and loneliness merge into a rhythm that seems to have no end.

After 380 km at 8pm my first day is done. The climbing meters I pass on to tomorrow. After the excellent dinner (tagliatelle di polipo XXL), besides the stomach, the positive ambition begins to rumble – just fine. I’m looking forward to day number two of Veneto Gravel!

Roberto has assured me that Veneto Gravel 2018 is in planning. The gravel bike community is very active in the Veneto and the response after the event was continuously positive. The reason for this I seem to have understood. Along the extensive river landscapes of the Piave and Sile, there are a variety of barely used trails, where the gravel bike can play its strengths.

The participation in Gravel Veneto is valid for the accreditation ARI AUDAX (within the given time limit). The route is also suitable for hardtails MTB, rigid bikes, plus bikes or adventure bikes, etc. – find your riding style!



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