- Doors of Italy
- Nadia's L'Eroica Report
- Headtube Badges of L'Eroica
- Italians Like It Low, Low, Low
Dreams do come true. Don't let anyone tell you different.
I was a teenage bike racer brat a long time ago and back in those days of leather hairnets, steel road bikes, and all things road racing - Italy was where it was at. In my mind, Italy was a mythical realm, filled with pasta, winding roads through picture perfect terrain, ultra fast pro bike racers, pizza, and Campagnolo.
I'd always wanted to go to Italy and ride my bike around and guessed it would probably be incredible, but I hadn't planned on going anytime soon. You know, working and life and stuff. I was content on getting my Italy fix from afar: watching pro cycle racing on the intranetwebs, eating pasta, drinking chianti, and finally riding a bike with Campagnolo on it.
So an email arived one day, out of the blue. It was from Michele at Brooks - we (Nadia and I) were invited to attend the 2014 L'Eroica in October, in, you guessed it, ITALY! >SQUEAL!!!!!!!!!<
L'Eroica is "a poem written with a bicycle" - maybe best described as a heritage festival celebrating road racing history: wool jerseys, racing bikes made of steel, gravel roads, and local communities. To some, it is a pilgramige. The very first time I found out about it I've wanted to go SO BAD! I could never get in through the registration and had basically given up ever riding in it. To think that suddenly, out of the blue, I was in? So amazing.
Here is my L'Eroica photo essay. I chose the 135km route, which proved to be equal parts gorgeous, inspiring, painful, and magical. Enjoy.
|Day before the event preride leg shakeout to Siena (in the distance). My first day of riding on Tuscan roads gave me a sweet taste of the incredibly fun roads we'd be tackling tomorrow. It also let me know that L'Eroica would be as big a challenge as many had mentioned!|
|A few "heroic" participants enjoying the Saturday afternoon market day. So many period bikes and costumed riders!|
|Many vendors had new and old versions of these cyclist figurines on hand, some new, some old - or really old in this case.|
|All the Brooks England people enjoying the festive night and the endless parade of tasty eats. I still can't figure out how Italians can eat so much!|
|Pinned up and ready for tomorrow! The map was useful and the roadbook would collect the stamps at the checkpoints along the way.|
|Awake at 4am, a quick breakfast of croissants and coffee, and out the villa door for the 5km ride into town for the start. Participants in the longer distances had to depart Gaiole between 5:30-7:30am. I started my ride at 5:45am.|
|The scene at this cafe in the Gaiole town centre was great. The cafe was packed and so many milling about, just felt like magic.|
|Cold, and excited riders lined up and slowly making our way towards the first checkpoint. This is where the judges would check your bike for appropriate "vintageness". Not vintage enough, NO STAMPA! (inside joke)|
|The sun rising over the Tuscan countryside. Not much more to be said :)|
|Somewhere around 65km in the route went straight through a small town into the town square. Lots of people watching and cheering the riders.|
|In the town square was another rest stop with more of the same tasty eats.|
|One curiosity of L'Eroica were the "teams" of riders who were all dressed in their vintage club kits rolling around together and having a great time. So much noise making, yelling, and general rabble rousing was fun to be around.|
|95km (111km for me) checkpoint at Asciano. More of the same tasty Tuscan eats but with a bonus: traditional bread soup and red wine!|
|The spread of food was eye-popping. So was trying to get to it, you definitely had to get your"elbows up" to get into the food line :)|
|Little did I know that from this point on, the "real" ride begins: read, very steep roads on very loose gravel.|
|Getting close to the very very top of the climbing section out of Asciano. I'll never forget the families hanging out on the road for the day, cherring on the riders, handing up food and water, and making me smile although I mostly wanted to grimace.|
|Arriving back into Gaiole there were throngs of people lining the road to the finish, cheering on each and every rider. This, coupled with how demolished I felt after completing the 135km route and the knowledge that I had made one of my dreams come true, brought tears to my eyes. I'll never forget the feeling of excruciating joy I had.|
What a day!
Nadia (pictured above) also had her own heroic day at L'Eroica and we'll have a report from her soon!