L’Eroica is a sort of Sportive/Grand Fondo type of event that takes place in the Chianti region of Italy each October. It is one of the events on my list of ‘Rides I would like to do but probably won’t’. Others on the list include Paris-Brest-Paris, The Fred Whitton and the Dunwich Dynamo. Actually I might get round to doing the Dynamo one day.
The event, you can’t really call it a race, started in 1997 as an attempt to draw attention to, and help preserve Tuscany’s ‘strada bianche’. It has been remarkably successful in that respect and has even spawned a race for the professionals, the Montepaschi Strade Bianche. The other purpose of the event is to connect to a (partly imagined) time in the past when cyclists were real men (and women) of steel. The type of people who would and could repair their broken forks using a borrowed blacksmith’s forge, like Eugene Christophe but without the aid of the boy to pump the bellows.
In keeping with this ethos you are not allowed to take part in the event on a bike made later than the mid nineteen-eighties. Many people take part on bikes that were originally built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most participants dress in retro cycling gear appropriate to the bike they are riding. Woollen jerseys and shorts, with a spare tubular wrapped round their shoulders in the style of the pre-war heroes like Alfredo Binda, is the look to aim for.
Additionally, while I’m sure that there is no ban on energy drinks and bars, they are not exactly encouraged. The correct food and drink for cycling is water, or better still red wine (this is Chianti country) and some good bread, cheese and a bit of prosciutto or salami. If you need a caffeine boost an espresso will do the trick.
The video gives a fuller flavour of the event.