A flavour of L’Eroica’s 2010 instalment from the Tweed Run‘s own Ted Young-Ing. (Bregan and Tim doing their best for the camera)
“The organization will not admit riders with farcical or ironic clothing or behaviour.”
(Excerpt from the 2011 Rules and Regulations)
As autumn approaches, 500 lucky non-Italians are doubtless polishing their first generation Campa Gruppos, Proofiding their leather helmets and scouring vintage stores for a decent woollen maglia. Yes, Siena’s l’Eroica is once again soon upon us!
The 500 non-nationals will join 2200 native Italians on October 2nd for another instalment of one of the world’s most stylish yet authentic celebrations of bicycle racing culture. Brooks, naturally, is again a sponsor.
Even without such a race, the region boasts some Europe’s most beautiful landscape to ride through at this time of the year. Factor in a weekend-long cycling attraction with course distances suitable for riders of all ages and abilities, and it becomes easy to see why l’Eroica has been over-subscribed in recent times.
So this time around, the organizers have capped entry at a managable 2700 racers.
In the spring, the region’s crushed white gravel roads provide a stern test for professional road racers on modern machinery when the Monte Paschi Strade Bianche is held. A clique of participants at l’Eroica, of course, try to outdo each other not by having the newest and lightest equipment, but rather the oldest and most cumbersome. The rest meet some way in between, riding classic steel road frames built generally around the 60′s and 70′s.
Scenes from 2009.
In a certain light, it could resemble masochism to consciously tackle these tracks on a frame from the 1930′s, or earlier, as many do. But the consolation of feeding stations without so much as an “energy bar” or “sports drink” in sight is obviously a strong one. At l’Eroica, soused figs and ham-stuffed panini are the order of the day. Wine is also available in industrial quantities.
Essentially l’Eroica is a gathering of kindred spirits. That anyone previously caught doping in a race is automatically barred entry merely reflects the organizers’ preference for mood- rather than performance-enhancing substances.
If anything, L’Eroica is powered by vino rosso, and a dim view would be necessarily taken of anybody spoiling the whole affair by doing anything so tacky as to ingest or inject anything illegal that might help them ride faster. On top of everything else, they’d miss all the beautiful scenery.
Sunday, October 2nd, 2011
Gaiole in Chianti, Italy.