L’Eroica is celebrating a landmark 25th year and the annual event is a veritable Mecca for passionate cyclists from all across the world looking for an amazing atmosphere, great food and wine, beautiful scenery, and of course vintage cycling.
Its success over the years has meant L’Eroica has expanded to hold events in many different countries, but the original here in Gaiole, Chianti not far from the wonderful city of Siena is considered to be its real heart and soul.
L’Eroica (Heroic in Italian) is different from other cycle events as it celebrates a past ‘golden age’ of cycling and entrants dress in traditional costumes and ride strictly non-modern bicycles over the course. There are six different ‘races’, over the weekend ranging in length from a manageable 46km route to a hardcore course covering 207 kilometers, entrants of which start early in the morning and finish late into the night.
Actually, when I say ‘races’ the thing I love so much about L’Eroica is its distinct lack of competitiveness. Instead, there is only supportiveness and enjoyment. As you may expect with older cycles, engineering problems are common along the route (as are punctures), however common also is the eagerness of fellow entrants to stop and assist and the friendly comradery runs through L’Eroica both on and off the road.
Organised stops along each route serve local delicacies and refreshments to the tired, but happy riders and locals and visitors alike come together to make the event something really unique.
Many of the visitors (of all ages) come as part of a team with matching uniforms and all participants are given a fantastic commemorative steel tin containing a local bottle of (wonderful) wine, pasta, and other racing and non-racing essentials.
Aside from the different events the beautiful town of Gaiole becomes a bike lovers’ thrift shop paradise with dozens of stalls selling every kind of vintage cycle clothing and cycle spare parts. As you may expect in one of the most famous food and wine regions in the world there are also some delicious stalls selling local culinary delights such as local cheeses, bread, olive oil, and especially moorish are the Porchetta Panini’s (roast pork sandwiches) and do I need to mention the wine?
All routes wind through breathtakingly beautiful countryside and at times you have to just stop to breathe in the scenery. It’s early October, and despite heavy rain in the days leading up to L’Eroica, the sun delivers when it matters over the weekend.
As day turns to night the cycling turns to dance and merriment, all done in such a festive atmosphere I almost don’t want to tell you about it. One thing is for sure, I will be back again!
For more info on next years event and their other events around the world visit https://eroica.cc/en