Discovering Sibillini Bikepcking
Sibillini Bikepacking is not a race, but a on one's own journey to discover a territory full of fascination and mystery, as beautiful as it is severely wounded.
"We had already been in the Sibillini National Park in 2016, when we rode the G.A.S. (Grande Anello dei Sibillini), one of the most beautiful hiking-paths in central Italy. Two months later an earthquake struck the Sibillini area and the access to many of the sections we rode was forbidden for safety reasons. Three years later many of those interdicted areas have been reopened. This route, which is based on a specially revised version of the G.A.S., is the result of the joint efforts and love of Ivano D'Orazio, Fabrizio Castelli and Loretta Piergentili towards their land, which we thank for wanting us to come back to the Sibillini Mountains."
- BEGINNINGO: 23 May 2020, 8.00 am Visso (MC)
- EVENT TYPE: Adventure Cycle Touring
- DURATA EVENTO: about 2/3 days
- ROUTE: 160 km | 4700 d+ | 90% off road
- DIFFICULTY: Medium
The Sibillini Mountains have been the subject of travel and exploration since the fifteenth century, exerting a
sinister and ambiguous charm on the imagination of scholars and adventurers from all over Europe sensitive to
the call of the legend that made one of its peaks the magical residence of an ancient oracle, called Sibilla. Even
today, centuries later, the Sibillini Mountains transmit a sense of magic to those who travel this route.
Starting from the ancient village of Visso, the route offers the bikepacker an incredible variety of environments and panoramas in close succession, despite its short mileage development. Through gravel roads and doubletracks this clockwise 160km loop provides a truly complete and suggestive view of the massif. From the wonderful Val di Panico (tr. Panic Valley) which goes towards the mountains lapping the "dolomitic" Monte Bove, to the ever blue lake of Fiastra, where you can taste the delicacies of Italian cuisine and take a bath in its crystal clear waters. On the east side, in Prati di Ragnolo area, some doubletracks proceed among slight slopes meadows that allow riders to enjoy breathtaking views, with the Sibillini group to the west, overlooking the wild valleys of the Ambro and the Infernaccio, and the Marche hills and the Adriatic Sea to the east.
The route is mainly all rideable and it's not very technical, even in the singletrack sections, and if you decide to get off the bike, you will only do it to contemplate the most suggestive views. Among these are certainly the Piana di Castelluccio, which can be accessed from the Forca di Presta pass in the southern part of the route, from which you can also admire the magnificent profiles of the Monti della Laga. Through a grassy singletrack first and doubletrack then, you get to the town of Castelluccio, after passing through Pian Piccolo and Pian Grande which make up the Castelluccio plateau. Here between the end of May and the beginning of July, in the shadow of Monte Vettore, the highest peak with its 2476m, an incredible flowering takes place that lights up and colors the entire plateau. After reaching the highest point of the route (1820m) located in the eastern part of it, you begin to lose altitude on doubletracks that travel through barren and remote areas to return to Visso (600m), the starting point of the loop, through a very fast snaky gravel road.
The rider who rides in these places finds himself involved in a mystical experience, surrounded by a magical atmosphere that accompanies all along the route. It's not about suggestion. Often along this route, the bikepacker finds himself immersed in surreal landscapes, lost in the singletracks that disappear in the boundless meadows and in the gravel roads, that wind between the folds of the mountains. Here the light captures glimpses of timeless beauty where remote valleys alternate with pyramidal-shaped mountains.
• Fiastra Lake and the trail that runs along the eastern shore, from which you can admire splendid views.
• The Sanctuary of Macereto which stands in an isolated position on a plateau in the western sector of the route. It is a religious complex and one of the greatest expressions of Renaissance architecture of the 16th century in the Marche region. It can be reached with a detour of 1.5km from the route, but it’s definitely worth it!
• Epic view of the Adriatic sea along the Prati di Ragnolo, near Pizzo Meta, in the north-eastern side of the route.
• From the Forca di Presta pass at 1,550m, you can enjoy the spectacular views of the Piana di Castelluccio and, in the opposite direction, the peaks of Monti della Laga.
• Epic view of Monte Vettore, the highest elevation of the Sibillini mountains (2476m), whose top stands out over the Castelluccio plains.
• Fiorita di Castelluccio, between late May and early July you can admire thousands of flowers that bloom the plateau, bursting with colors, with shades ranging from yellow ocher to red, from violet to white. The species of flowers that dye the Piana di Castelluccio in that period are countless: lentils, gentianella, buttercups, poppies, narcissuses, violets, asphodels, Eugeniae violet, clovers, oxalis and many more.
• The Italian-shaped forest near the plain of Castelluccio where conifers were planted in 1961 in memory of the nation's first centenary of unity.
The Monti Sibillini area was hit hard by an earthquake in 2016. It is therefore recommended not to enter the "red zones" of the historic centers of Visso, Ussita and Castelluccio villages.
Best bike: a front MTB or a fully rigid plus bike is recommended for this loop which has different types of
terrain. Even a gravel bike would work, especially with wide and tough tires (700x45s or 650b x 2.1) due to
some rough sections.
When to go: the ideal riding season is between mid-May and mid-October. In winter some sections of the route
are not practicable due to the snow.
The route passes through grazing areas, where there could be sheepdogs. In case they chase you, get off the bike and continue on foot, placing the bike between you and the dog.
• Wild camping is permitted along the route, except for the Castelluccio plateau (from Km120 to 129 /from mi 74.5 to 80). Remember to #leavenotrace.
• Just before the no camping zone, there is an excellent location to place the tent or bivy. It is close to the Belvedere mountain hut and offers a spectacular view of the Monti della Laga.
• Campfire are banned in the Sibillini National Park.
• There are two campsites along the route. "B-Site Camp" on the banks of Fiastra lake and "Camping Sibilla" in Montefortino. (noted on the GPX)
• Lodging is possible in some villages along the route or nearby. More info here.
• Drinking water is never an issue, there is plenty of water fountains along the route. Only in the stretch between Castelluccio and Visso (about 25km) there is no possibility of water resupply.
• On the Fiastra lake there is "La Spiaggetta" where you can eat and, if necessary, repair your bike thanks to a repair bike point. In front of the restaurant there is also a small beach where you can relax.
• A "must-stop" is at La Capanna, in Pintura, where you can enjoy typical cuisine, take sandwiches or even sleep. There is also a bike repair point available for riders.
• Food can be bought from grocers in Visso and Fiastra. (noted on the GPX)