We’ve covered the fine work of Trail Brothers Tuscany in a past article, and I had the opportunity to ride their hand-dug tracks a few weeks back during the Bike Connection Agency (BCA) winter edition. The BCA is an event designed by two Roman bike industry veterans, where journalists get to connect with brand representatives, conduct interviews, and test new products to share with readers. Founders, Giulio Neri and Simon Cittati, picked an ideal location for their winter gathering, in the warm hills of Massa Marittima, Italy.
The beginning of the eight trail system can be reached by way of Trail Brothers’ shuttle service, or a calm pedal up the aptly named Spaghetti Trail. Pedaling on either the twisty Spaghetti track or roundabout road climb takes from thirty minutes to an hour depending on how much pasta you have to burn, while the shuttle ride is closer to twelve minutes. The Trail Brothers have opened a warming hut at the drop off point, equipped with a pump, tools, a bonfire, hot coffee, and sweet snacks. For folks moving at maximum vacation speed, it’s a sweet spot to stop and chat before dropping in.
Though they’re signed and rated from green to black, all of the trails in the network offer a similar level of difficulty. Most of them take off from a rocky peak called Monte Arsenti, just above the hut, starting out a bit technical and becoming increasingly more flowy as they descended either side of the mountain. Each of the trails has harder and easier line options that are signed a meter or two prior to the splits. Though the “hard lines” are likely worth a look before you leap, they all consist of manageable rock rolls. Apart from a few small jumps I didn’t see any true drops or other technical features that require more than a little speed to clear.
While the trails are not packed with rock gaps, there are continuous features that riders of any skill level can enjoy. The longest track, called Benedetto, is 3.8 kilometers of full-on flow party. Like El Nino, Gambler, Cicalino Freeride, and any of the other blue trails in the area, Benedetto is lined with small rock gardens, shallow speed-built berms, knee-high jumps and hips, and a load of belly-tickling compressions. It’s a notably fun trail to ride and nearly anyone can find what they’re looking for therein. Benedetto finishes with about 1km of pedally singletrack to warm things back up after the windy descent.
The black-rated trails in Massa Marittima are not noticeably more difficult than the blue, and it’s likely that a few brief steep sections give them the darker diamond designation. If you are comfortable riding on grippy rocks, the black trails should suit you just fine. Rock ‘N’ Roll Queen was the only black trail open while I was visiting, as Bonatto was being worked on. The track rolls off the rocks from the western side of the peak, and the most technical section lies within the first two meters. It’s a messy natural rock roll with some larger holes to consider. At roughly 2.5 kilometers, Rock ‘N’ Roll Queen winds between the thick Turkey Oak forest with some tight turns and tiny gap jumps. It can be difficult to find and maintain momentum on the twisty track, making it a super fun one to ride multiple times in search of speed.
- Shuttles and trail guides: Trail Brothers Tuscany
- Closest airports: Pisa or Rome
- Nearby MTB hotel: Tenuta Il Cicalino
- Nearby ride alternatives: Elba island, Punta Ala, and countless others.
- 21-minute drive to the seaside town of Follonica
The Trail Brothers shuttle service offers a fantastic way to learn the trail system quickly and hear about other nearby ride centers. They use a set of Land Rover trucks to ferry riders to the hut, making the ride up easier on the stomach than a traditional shuttle van on the rocky roads.
Tenuta Il Cicalino is a traditional agriturismo (farm-based hotel) at the base of the trails that caters to mountain bikers in a number of ways. There are safe places to lock up your bike, hoses for cleaning gear, a weight room, swimming pool, tools, and most importantly — delicious food. The breakfast, lunch, and supper offerings are varied and plentiful, and they made grub to suit us vegetarians and gluten-free eaters as well.
With loads of hiking in the area, the Mediterranean sea only 20 minutes west, and historic cities like Sienna and Pisa roughly 1.5 hours away, there is something near Massa Marittima to occupy any vacation itinerary. You can bring non-cycling friends along and reconvene at the end of the day to share the stories of where you played and what you found to eat. I recommend the ribollita soup.