Article Submitted by: Ben Stott
Now in my fifth year, I’m very fond of the L’Eroica. After all, what’s not to like? Beautiful old road bikes awash with classic Italian styling, sharp shots of espresso in the freezing mist, pit stops of Prosciutto, Parmesan and Chianti and those breath-taking, awe-inspiring rolling Tuscan hills. For the uninitiated L’Eroica is a very special kind of cycling sportive (or ‘Cicloturistica’ as it’s known in Italy). The ride is held annually in Italy with the majority of the cycling taking place on ‘Strada bianche’ – the old, white dusty gravel roads that criss cross the Chianti region of Tuscany. You’ll need a road bike built before 1987 to take part and there are strict rules on the period specifications.
The above photo's (mostly iPhone) encapsulate the entire trip, including the event, the race and the surrounding villages. If you have any specific questions, feel free to drop us an email. You can see the full cycle route here, along with various points of interest.
➊ — Flying from the UK: A / Rent or borrow a good bike box and pack your bike carefully. B / Check with the airline regarding additional charges and weight limits. C / Book early if possible. The cheapest and best served destination is Pisa. D / You will need to rent a car for the 2 hour drive to Gaiole; don’t forget to allow space for the bikes. E / Get to Chianti on the Friday or Saturday to visit the bike jumble and register for the ride.
➌ — Accommodation: A / There are a limited number of rooms in Gaiole, so look within a 15/25k radius. Also try Airbnb as well as the variety of hotels and apartments in the surrounding area. B / There is a campsite available for the event, check the L’Eroica website for more details. If you are making a holiday of it, is probably a good idea to purchase a local guidebook (physical).
➍ — The Event: A / The rules on bike specifications are taken very seriously and you will not be allowed to start the event if you bike does not meet the rules. B / If you are riding anything over the 75km course, be prepared to start very early. C / It gets very cold early in the morning so arm warmers or longer sleeves are recommended; it warms up later. D / Early starting times require lights, for your safety and by the marshals. E / There is plenty of food available, if you are taking energy gels/bars keep it low key. The chianti will look tempting but be careful.
➎ — Dress Code: A / L’Eroica is a vintage ride. The Italians do classic very well and the majority of riders will wear a degree of vintage clothing. If you don’t have any you can stock up at the jumble or a new wool vintage style jersey will also do nicely. B / Helmets. Many riders will only wear a cloth cap, or an old style leather ‘hairnet’. Obviously safety is a personal choice and you are free to wear a modern helmet.