The 25th edition of L’Eroica has come and gone, and what an amazing week it was. As the event kept building throughout the week, our L’Eroica and Tuscany tour guests enjoyed a full week of festivities and local experiences, culminating in the ultimate experience on the Strade Bianche on Saturday.
The ethos of L’Eroica is about rediscovering the beauty of fatigue and the thrill of the conquest, all while honouring cycling’s past and looking to it to inspire the future of our beautiful sport.
It’s the riding of pre ’87 steel bikes and the wearing of vintage woollen jerseys which shifts the attitude of riders and amplifies the feeling of a beautiful shared experience.
Our L’Eroica and Tuscany tour started with an eye on the weather as we dodged the rain on our lead-up rides through the magical Chianti hills. This was also where we became familiar with our beautiful steel machines with their down tube shifters and somewhat smaller rear cassettes, and the continual, undulating landscape complete with stone hamlets, green forests, olive trees, grape laden vines, and at this special time of year, road side stalls selling the amazing ‘just-foraged’ porcini mushrooms.
As the riding group familiarised and felt more comfortable on the bike, the excitement continued to build off the bike as more and more vendors arrived to town to sell bikes, parts, and every vintage cycling related product you can imagine. Individual shopping lists were fulfilled quickly and then exceeded, with many hours spent by riders wandering between the tents.
The changing of the seasons also brought with it beautiful light, morning mist, amazing sunsets and an atmosphere to the landscape that was sublime, whether we were on the bike, hiking through it or enjoying an aperitivo at the close of the day.
For Damian, riding L’Eroica is his ‘on the bike highlight’ every year and this edition was no exception. We started the day in darkness in the piazza with an espresso and a crema filled cornetto, and after receiving our first stamp, we were away. With only the sounds of changing gears and light chatter around us, we climbed up the cypress and candle lit gravel road to the imposing Castello di Brolio.
As dawn arrived, the early morning mist made the landscape atmospheric and breath taking. We kept pushing along the winding roads and up the pinches on our way to Siena, and then up into its historic heart where we had the very unique opportunity to ride around Piazza del Campo, shrouded in mist. It was truly spectacular!
As we rode south of Siena past more vineyards and into the incredible landscape of the Crete Senesi, it was here on a long stretch of Strade Bianche that we found ourselves with clear roads ahead and behind. It was a remarkable 16 odd k’s, with the conditions idyllic. With not a breath of wind, and the quiet only broken by the crunching of wet gravel as we navigated the technical descents and soft gravel on the climbs, it was just impossible to keep the smiles off our faces..
After the last gravel section, we made our way once again to Castello di Brolio and finished with another beautiful free flowing descent, before returning to the village of Gaiole in Chianti and the many cheering people at the finish.
With a great sense of achievement, it was now time to reflect a little, enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes, and then join the party in the piazza to celebrate with our group and other riders who we’d met along the way, and also our partners, friends and the many locals who work hard to create this wonderful festival every year.
The most amazing element of the whole week is the people from all walks of life and from many countries across the globe who come together with a shared passion, a sense of adventure and a respect for each other.