Marmöl Gravel 2024

An italian gravel party in February through quarries in Brescia

You might ask yourself who organizes a cycling event in February in Central Europe? But not only the time of year, but also the setting through quarries where Marmor is being excavated with huge rocks, mud, slippery surfaces and heavy machinery around the area of Brescia in Italy?
The answer is Niccolò Varanini.
I’m not sure what’s the first time I met him but let me tell you this much: his smile and great attitude are absolutely infectious, his ability to push hard on the bike makes your legs cry.

Niccolo Varanini and his cargo bike are able to transport everything. Even his girlfriend.

He told me about his hometown Brescia and not only through him have I heard that it’s amazing for riding bikes. In fact he invited me to his event this February. The Marmöl Gravel.

Honestly it’s hard to describe what it is. It’s just two courses, one easier, one a bit longer and harder on gravel and secondary roads.
It’s not a race, just ride any pace you like. And the scenery is most unusual. The quarries around the town are dominating the landscape on the course. The Marmor is shining bright and white. Literally cut off the mountain in perfect straight edges.
The lighting through those large white, beige and red surfaces? Stunning.
The climbs? Steep and sometimes on very loose and rough rocks. Niccolò even put some sections of hike-a-bike in there so you don’t get bored. 😜

Bikes and heavy mining machinery at Marmöl Gravel in Brescia.
The quarries at Marmöl Gravel provide a stunning scenery to ride in!

All the heavy machinery standing around and security guards patrolling so you don’t venture into the workers space makes for a special atmosphere.
I always wondered what fascination my friend Jost Lietzen from Basic Bikes had for taking pictures with diggers and large trucks and his bikes and him squatting on them. Honestly, now I get it. It is impressive.

Max Riese riding the Marmöl Gravel on a Cervélo Aspero 5

You might ask about the weather and I can’t tell you but yeah I brought 3 different outfits for 1 day of riding. Every scenario: rain, cold, sunny and fairly warm.
On the evening before the event we went for the mandatory Italian aperitivo at a bar. Chatting to people they told me Niccolò is always lucky with the weather. And he was!
The weather forecast was terrible. Rain, single digit temperatures. However at the startline we found… sun!

Andrea Galanti and a classic 26" MTB for Marmöl Gravel
The start location at Mille Millia Museo in Brescia was beautiful.

I will never complain about a getaway in February, riding bikes in the sun with friends.
Friends, yeah I should touch on that topic, too. There were not a lot of international riders at Marmöl Gravel. However, literally everyone I know from the Italian gravel and bikepacking scene was there. (Ok, some were missing. But we will catch up, friends!)
My friends from enough Cycling (how I missed riding with Manu Truccolo and Federico Damiani. Even some nice chat with Mattia de Marchi) were there, of course!
The crew around Jacopo Lahbi lightened up the party. I wasn’t aware you could have such a rave at 3 in the afternoon right after a huge bike ride. Just look at the picture of Fede beaten up after some pogo. You gotta love them.

Fede Damiani from Enough Cycling after the party at Marmöl Gravel in Brescia.
The party after Marmöl turned into a rave with gravel cyclists in Lycra.

My friends from Alba Optics hosted the feed station. With mulled wine, grappa, salamini and panini. There was some party even during the ride!
Videomaker Alessandro Ponti made me smile a few times, and many familiar faces joined the journey through the hills around Brescia. I was especially happy to see Fede Albertini from wizard cycling Milano. And surprise we got to celebrate his birthday on the bike! 🙌

Party and mulled wine mid course by Alba Optics at Marmöl Gravel

I must have forgotten countless other people to name. However, please forgive me: 450!!! People joined the event and made it a massive party. I am still amazed by that fact.
But then honestly it’s not surprising. The event is superbly organized. Easy to reach within Italy, offers a unique scenery, amazing vibes and will just rip you out of your winter depression.

Regional food and drinks were included in the registration at Marmöl Gravel in Brescia.

If there would be one thing I’d change? Bigger portions for food. But I’m probably not the right measurement. My friend Ondrej from Bohemian Border Bash once put it like this: „you eat like a horse.“
And the food was great. Local specialties. With vouchers included in your starter bag. Even two beers were included. For the price of the event I was surprised by how many things were included.

There was a lot of dancing at the finish line of Marmöl Gravel 2024.

When it came to say goodbye I was sad. I would’ve gladly stayed a few more days. Discover the area, stay with friends. But that’s how things go and one thing is for sure: Brescia is now on my list to return to, along with Marmöl Gravel.

Cervélo Aspero-5 in the quarries around Brescia. Perfect for riding gravel bikes.

Chapeau for the amazing event and thank you for organizing it Niccolò and all the team behind.