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Friday, February 6, 2015

Eroica: A Chance to Bike As They Did in the in the Early 1900s

Posted By on Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 10:12 AM

click to enlarge spokesman.jpg

Ever had the desire to live out the legendary Italian cycling racing heritage, from the glory days of pro-cycling, back before EPO and HGH? Want to ride the legendary Strada Bianche in the hills of Tuscany, but don’t want to pony up airfare to get to that fancy gravel? Well, Eroica, perhaps the only vintage bicycling race in the world, is coming to California this April, as the first event of its kind stateside, and if you’re lucky you can still score a spot.

Eroica launched as L’Eroica in 1997, with 92 "hunters of feelings and emotions" (according to a Google translation of the Italian website). Now the event has swelled to over 15,000 worldwide, with rides taking place in Spain, the UK, Japan, Italy, and now California.

Cycling reenactment courtesy Eroica email newsletter.
  • Cycling reenactment courtesy Eroica email newsletter.

The ride is for charity, as is most ride that’s got the audacity to charge you $150 to do it. But Eroica isn’t just any charity ride. It’s also kind of like a Civil War Re-enactment, except instead of muskets and wool coats, everybody’s got to wear vintage jerseys and ride “historical bikes.”

Item six of the Eroica regulations state that, “Historical Bikes (also called Bici Eroiche in Italian) are all road-racing bikes built in 1987 or earlier both with gears and without gears, as those built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. These bicycles most likely have a steel frame, but also other types of rare frames are permitted, such as the aluminium frames built by Alan and Vitus with screwed or glued joints and the Exxon Graftek frames of the late 1970’s with carbon tubes glued to aluminium lugs.”

Got it?

There’s also a dress code, namely “participants must be donning period cycling garb. Specifically, they should wear wool jerseys and shorts.They do recommend, the use of a helmet in Italy, but it isn’t required, and they still manage to get participants covered by insurance. It'll be interesting to see how that fares in California. 

The Eroica California Route
  • The Eroica California Route

In any event, the ride will come to California on April 12, starting and ending in Paso Robles. The limit for the ride is 1,000 cyclists, and you can bet that there will be plenty of re-enactors lining up to get in on this first California edition.

The event will offer three different routes, including 35-mile, 50-mile, and 107-mile flavors. The three-day event will include other mildly hilarious bicycle foppery such as a Vintage Bicycle Concourse d’Elegance complete with judging, screening of classic cycling films (Breaking Away is the only one I can think of, but that film isn’t exactly kind to Italians), and an after ride “Pasta Party” (the mind reels!). Of course, there will be a wine tasting tour.

And just so you know the profits will go to Hospice of San Luis Obispo County. If you've got $150 burning a hole in the pocket of your wool-jersey, then you'd better sign up for the Eroica newsletter at because registration will open February 16, and preference will go to subscribers. 

Have fun! 

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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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