Gravel races
The Glacial Age

At fizik, we are passionate about exploration and discovery; whether it comes from the lab, developing innovative products as part of our Concepts initiative or out riding quiet roads and trails just to see where they take us. So, when Davide of Alvento cycling magazine presented the idea of designing a new and challenging gravel route retracing the ancient, glacial history of his northern Italian home, we were eager to support the project and help to get the job done.



About a million years ago, the area of Canavese in Italy, where I live, was buried beneath the Balteo Glacier with only its highest peaks visible above a staggering mass of snow and ice. As the glacier crept its way through the region, it forever shaped the landscape of the area we call home. By following its footprint, my friend Danilo and I decided to travel back in time and explore this ancient landscape.

Glacial race


Starting in Piverone, we tightened our Powerstrap X4 gravel shoes and set off into the crisp autumn chill of late November for a 200km+ exploration. We started by following the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim road to the Holy Land, towards the towns of Palazzo and Bollengo, our Canyon Grails as our time machines, kitted out with Aliante saddles and Terra Bondcush Tacky bar tape.

At the base of the first climb, we observe how the surrounding landscape was formed as the Balteo Glacier receded.

“leaving behind stepped terraces with punchy climbs broken up by long, flat stretches that seemed designed for cyclists like us..”

Over the ridgeline, remnants of former settlements silently overlook the vast panorama below. We test our fitness, climbing higher towards San Giacomo, before a sweeping descent to Valle d’Aosta, the cold air temporarily transporting us back to the Ice Age as we chase one another to the valley below.


After fifty kilometers, we pass through light and shadow as we reach Lugnacco and then Brosso, the path changing between gravel and singletrack as the climbing starts to take its toll. We breathe a sigh of relief as we finish descending the dirt road towards Rueglio, knowing the toughest terrain is behind us. Distance-wise, however, we’ve yet to reach the halfway mark and must carry on with no time to waste.

The kilometers tick by as the light fades and night approaches. We reach Lake Viverone, the main body of water left behind by the ancient glacier, under a full moon and following the beam of our bike lights. Leaving the lake, we make our exhausted way back into Piverone finally, tired, numb and happy, and celebrate by making plans for more time travel in the future.

The new gravel route designed by Davide and Danilo is nearing completion and will be revealed soon. 
Photographs: ©Daniele Molineris / Alvento magazine