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102014: The Year British Mountain Bikers Showed the World Who's Boss
Autumn in Italy is somewhat different to the same period in the UK. While Bike Magic HQ was experiencing relentless rain and sopping-wet trails, the week we chose to fly out to Pisa and then take the short car ride to Il Cicalino, set at the foot of an impressive and steep hillside atop which sits the town of Massa Marittima, our only concern was locating the sun cream.
Let me give you a little more idea of this location, for I myself had underestimated its splendour. The main ‘hub’ and base for Il Cicalino’s restaurant, swimming pool and apartments sits centrally on an estate that has for many years harvested its olives, vines and fresh produce for sale and consumption locally and further afield. A u-shape of hills surround, with the hazy view down to the coastline as the focal point in this vast natural amphitheatre. Old stone buildings are scattered around the estate and provide a setting unlike anything you will find outside of Italy, while creased and crumpled roads lead to further properties within the estate, some inhabited, some for rent and at least one providing fine dining (we’ll get back to that in part two). It’s a fabulous setting for a mountain bike holiday.
Of course it’s all well and good to stay in pleasant surroundings, but what if the trails suck? They don’t. There are fantastic rides within Il Cicalino, and then head just outside and to discover rides of every type and technicality. There is an absolute wealth of mountain biking to be reaped around the pleasant rolling hills of the greater area.
To the lower slopes of Massa Marittima’s majestic hillside: nestled in dense woodland just outside the boundary of the Cicalino area there is true trail gold to be found. The snaking gulley that makes up one of the most famous runs in the region – and which is featured in this first of a two-part Trail Guide TV – is easy to access, relatively fast to summit via a simple fire road climb and stupendously fun to ride. We’ll leave it at that for now and let the moving images of riders Andrea Bruno, Leoluca Scurria and Marcel Beer along with Bike Magic’s James McKnight show you why it may be a good idea to head over to Italy.
Il Cicalino mountain biking information:
120km of singletrack and over 500km of ride-able varied terrain in the wider area accessed from and including Cicalino estate.
Rent of mountain bike: €36 per day. 178€ six days.
Guided tours: €36 half day. €59 full day with lunch and drinks included. (Option of a tour of nearby isle of Elba for €95 with transfer, lunch and drinks included.)
Food at Cicalino