Inspiration, organisation, and not enough time!
With L’Eroica Britannia right around the corner we wanted to find out more about what has been going on behind the scenes to get the event organised. So we got together with one of the organisers, Tim Hubbard, to have a chat about his experiences over the last year. Without further ado, we present L’Eroica Britannia – The Interview.
Why did you decide to launch L’Eroica Britannia ?
Having been totally mesmerised by taking part in L’Eroica Italy for several years we always discussed what it would be like in the UK, and specifically in the Peak District. We have got to know the organisers in Italy over the years and mooted the idea in 2011. We have the location; Derbyshire is our backyard and was the natural choice. Not because it’s local but for what it offers. You could say the Peak District is the home of British Cycling and there aren’t many places in the UK that have such a strong connection with the history of cycling. It’s the epic terrain that has brought us here, and the area is so steeped in the Industrial Revolution on a manufacturing level that you don’t have to look far to find strong links with the bike. So in a nutshell, we have think we have strong elements to celebrate the original Italian version.
Why did you think such an event would work in England?
As I said previously, even though cycling always plays… for now anyway… second fiddle to football, Britain’s pivotal role is deeply ingrained in early cycling history. One of our goals, as with the Italians, is to promote heroic cycling and the enjoyment that comes from it. We also want to recount the history of British cycling, and show specifically what this and the surrounding area has to offer. The exciting thing for us is there is do much to go at in terms of delivering history and heritage of the area and allowing people from all over the country and the world to be part of a very British take on a very Italian event.
The L’Eroica is a world class event and we are privileged that the Italian founders saw our vision and agreed to have a British version. It’s a bit similar to the way the Tour de France organisers were overwhelmed by Yorkshire; the Italian founders were just so excited to see what we had in store.
It’s a British version and we think that it could be as strong as the original. Italy has bread and wine we have beer and Bakewell pudding. The Japanese event has sushi and sake!
We are really focusing on the festival as well as a wonderful trio of routes. It’s a free family festival celebrating the best of British from a golden age. The guys and girls riding are heroes… that’s the direct translation of L’Eroica. We value heritage, style, effort, local qualities. Food and drink.
It’s a local British event. Let’s be proud of that!
What have been the best and worst bits of organising so far?
The worst. Time. By far this is the biggest challenge. Designing and building any event would be a challenge for the best resourced team, never mind planning three world class bike routes and designing a festival. We have been overwhelmed by the response and this has kept us motivated when the going has got tough.
The best. Meeting brands and partners who totally get the vision and want to be involved. No sales pitch, just get it. It’s a wonderful feeling. Also just dealing with day to day emails from entrants, and seeing tweets and Facebook messages that communicate the passion and excitement. We have a lot to be thankful for.
What are you most looking forward to on the weekend?
Great weather! Having sunshine over the weekend will be the icing on the cake. Knowing L’Eroica Italy as well as we do, seeing the riders all dressed and bikes ready is a brilliant experience. Seeing the festival in full swing, seeing people enjoying the exhibitors and the entertainment. We have a grand British pub, The Thornbridge Tavern on site, seeing this in full swing with drinks flowing as the sun goes down. We are all wondering how much L’Eroica Britannia beer we’ll have left!
Did you expect it to be as popular as it has already proven to be?
Certainly not with so much else happening this year and especially with the Tour de France starting only two weeks later. Again, year one has been a really steep learning curve. We are all in and have put an awful lot on the line to bring this event and create the festival. We were always confident of making a great successful event over the space of a few years and the enthusiastic feedback has given us a huge lift and confidence to keep developing. We know we probably won’t get everything right first time out but it’s a great start.
Where do you see the event in 5 years’ time?
The festival for us is key. Our vision is for a family friendly festival with something for all. We have a great location in Bakewell showground and the most stunning part of the country in the Peak District. Develop strong relationships with our brand partners and this will allow us to deliver a better experience year on year. The routes are brilliant. Something for everyone, and again these maybe need tweaking over the next few years but the plan is… like Italy, to have a signed route for people to enjoy 365 days and year.
Thanks Tim, look forward to seeing you at the festival. Let’s hope for sunshine. We’re off to get some practice in on our ten speed, ready for those hills!
Find out more about L’Eroica Britannia on their website - http://www.eroicabritannia.co.uk