Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking
When I told Mrs. Spirito about l'Eroica back in March it took her all of 5 minutes to say "sure, let's go".
It never seemed quite real until about 10:45pm the night before we were flying to Italy and when I finally had my bike assembled and tested for about 200m on the street where we live before breaking it down again to pack for the flight. I recall getting into bed perhaps 10 minutes before the alarm rang for us to wake up, shower and set off for the airport. Flying with 2 bikes + luggage for a few weeks for me and the Mrs. was a challenge but luckily all went well and no drama's although catching regional trains from Rome to Siena was tricky (with train/platform changes).
Tuscany was everything I'd imagined and infinitely more beautiful on top of that. We toured the week before the event with a group, did and finished the ride and then spent a week in Rome before the time of our lives had to end. l'Eroica is such a magical experience and truly memorable. The roads, the scenery, the mass of bonafide bike mad devotee's .... I cannot even try to cover the experience but below is a taste of what we saw and enjoyed. One day soon I'll try to load up all the pics of our epic adventure.
My thoughts exactly, just worded a little more politely.
As soon as I figure out the interwebs I'll post them all and add details and share thoughts
Wow, looks like you had a beautiful day for it. I'm surprised at how easily I recognised the locations of your pics, each one transported me straight back there. Walking up this hill in '11 was particularly memorable, a lot of footprints in that section of strade bianche
Well, in a way it's a thank you to yourself and others who posted stories & pics of their l'Eroica that had me dreaming and inspired us to do it ourselves.
The day was perfect and somewhat of a miracle. The previous day was raining cats and dogs and a complete washout. Many of the vendors and sellers of bikes and parts didn't even bother and left all their treasures hidden under tarps for the whole day prior. All forecasts for the Sunday predicted heavy rain to continue and I was more than slightly daunted about a totally wet and muddy l'Eroica, not much for myself but for Mrs. Spirito as she's a naturally nervous about descents on loose surfaces and whether the brakes would be effective in the wet.
At 4am when we awoke to get ready and travel to Gaiole I couldn't believe my eyes when I peered outside our window and saw a starry sky (meaning no clouds). We got there just prior to 5am and part nervous energy, part still asleep we rode out and along the course for about 5 km's before realizing we'd missed the official start gate and procedure. So against the wall of lights we rode back into Gaiole, stopped at Cafe Jolly, espresso'ed up, then started properly. From there on we took our time and tried not to get caught up in all the buzz around us, riding at our own pace.
It was only about an hour into the ride as dawn began to rise that we knew our fears about the weather, by some miracle, were over. It was a perfect day and the only sucky thing was carrying arm warmers, gillet's, rain cape's etc but I'd rather that small burden than the other way round. And it really was a miracle, the roads were mostly dry and the biggest obstacle was keeping an eye out for gravel that had been washed away, settling in some places a good couple inches thick, very soft and easy to get stuck in and lose a front wheel on turns.
European vaction, legendary event, Tuscany, amazing food and wine, incredible memories, most likley taking your bike (or at least part of it) back to the place of of it's birth. Whatever
The only good Cyclist is a Bicyclist
Huge fan of booted RGers who just can't help themselves
Now you're just teasing us.....c'mon finish the tale, more anecdotes. Which distance did you do? Did you find any treasures? Most exotic bike you saw? See any other Aussies?
I think I need to go.
Thanks bro ... but nah, Ron from DHBC is the real Vincitore. A sprightly 71 years young, he rode around Europe prior to the event on his Nervex lugged Jim Bundy staying at youth hostels and loading up the rack attached to his bike with p-clamps. There were tough roads where I dared not put a foot down because Ron was still pedaling. We found he was often getting lost .. then came the familiar chant "Where's Ron ??" but soon we twigged that all we had to do was look for the nearest woman and voila, there's Ron by the fair maiden's side and being his smooth old self. So cool, he even had time to read about himself in the paper.
He is an inspiration and I Iook forward to catching up with him soon.
And Morini, yes, there were Aussie's !! We road l'Eroia as part of a package tour with Ashley Petito from http://www.pelotoncyclingtours.com/index.php?page_id=43 Best decision we ever made: all the details were taken care of, we road the best roads, at and drank enormously well and we're looked after the whole way. Oh .. and our home was a Castle
That's Ashley with the camera below and the ridiculously brown guy is Andrea the local Tuscan guide whom we taught to speak Australian by pinching his nose (so he'd sound more nasal). Great guys, great times.
+1 to all of that, especially going over there .
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
The gentleman in the pics above wearing the yellow Wolf jersey and riding the Bertin I'd never met nor do I even know his name. The pic is of him at the finish and his grin just shone. We did however ride some sections together, especially near the end. Some the roads were quite rutted and on one steep descent his brakes weren't wokring too well, his front wheel sank deep into gravel and he went down. Luckily he was ok, dusted himself down, checked his bike and rode on. There were some rough roads and it was the tough end of the race. I had my own demon's to battle and it was only at the end that I saw my friend. I think I called out "you made it" and his grin said it all. I was grinning just as much ... in fact the last 10km's was for me an internal "yeah" and grinning all over.
So yeah ... I don't know who he is except he's English and I'll never forget riding part of the way with him. My story was his story, his story was my story. The day was like that over and again. So happy to see he finished.
Btw, we rode the 135km course.
Too right, Ron's a bottler. Took his bike up on a Greyhound bus from down south to do the Noosa L'Eroica a couple of years ago and managed to complete the 120odd km course that had young blokes (myself included) completely exhausted by the finish. IIRC he was on a BSA or something similar for that ride?
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
"Awesome Ron" (as DHBCer Dayna refers to him) is a true legend. I was talking to him last weekend and he told me what a great time he'd had.
He raced in Lindsay's team in July at the Nowra team time trial on his early 1960s J C Higgins. He'll be at the Ride for Life on 17 November in the Vintage race on the same bike.
At Nowra (left hand side behind the mustache):
Excellent. I sent Ron an email but please let him know about this thread here in case he's missed it (I got a lot of pics of Ron).
Add to bucket list.
The photos are inspiring. I got goose bumps and tingling, at the thought of following in your footsteps. But the photos of the hills left me in a state of wondering if I would make it to the end.
I bumped into Ron at start of the Syd - Mel Audax ride on Sunday. He was then heading to Heffron for the vintage race. I expect I'll see him at ' In Search of Hills' in a few weeks.
Fight till the end n never give up. Cadel Evans 2012
If I did, anyone could (I suck at hills)
Tuscany is more rolling than very steep. There are some steep sections but they're relatively short. Sometimes I'd get off to walk before realizing it was harder to walk than ride, so I'd get back on and ride the rest of the hill. Both our low gears were 32t x 26 and that was plenty fine ... I didn't envy the rider's who rode on period bikes with a 48 x 21 small gear and others who rode fixed wheel.
I will say it's better to have a bike with good brakes then easy gearing for this ride, some of the dirt/gravel descents were a little tricky and whilst our bikes were well set up we saw so many riders having a trick time with sub par brakes, and parts/pads that were well and truly past their best.
Also, keep in mind there are different course lengths .. 40km, 75km, 135km and 200km (we did the 135km). Next year they'll have the Super l'Eroica which will be 250km's in length ... I'd rather coast and enjoy the day doing the shorter courses but some might like the challenge.
Thanks so much for the effort of reporting it to us all. Fantastic
I am sure I am not the only cheapskate/broke person who is wondering how much the minimum cost to do this ride from Oz? Obviously 'ball park' figures only but then I'll know if its ever going to be feasible. :p
I dunno to tell you the truth. We did a group tour with Peleton Cycling Tours which include most everything. Not cheap, but in my mind worth every cent because it made it a real holiday and we were looked after very well for the whole week prior to the event.
We flew with Emirates as they have a generous 30kg weight allowance and weren't stung for "sporting equipment". Big relief !!
Train from Milan or Rome to Sienna is tricky but not very expensive and I'd advise to pre-book. $20-$40 each way depending on where you're coming from.
You could stay at an Agriturismo in the Tuscany area for relatively small coin and there's a wide variety of options $50-$100euro should cover per night.
Obviously the further out you are from all the of bigger towns the cheaper it will be, but all the roads are sweet to ride on.
Food and wine in regional area's is quite inexpensive if you look for the local co-op's and cafe's. $10euro for lunch for two, $0.80euro for a coffee.
The event itself is not expensive but you'll have to enter to lottery draw to get accepted. They limit the numbers at 5000 entrants.
By signing up with a group tour you're at least guaranteed entry.
I'll be honest in saying I'm broke right now, we stayed at some fancy places in Rome afterwards and had the time of our lives. The whole trip was just a dream come true and I wouldn't change a thing
Italy is very different to Australia and I'm starting to think their way of thinking is a whole lot smarter than ours. Seems like chaos until you immerse yourself in their ways, then it's all exactly right in every way. Very addictive
Honestly, just go ...
Great photos Spirito, also remember Robert's original thread on his adventures. One of the main reasons I am still trying to cobble together a requisite bike that will fit me and survive beneath me .
Mentioned that to a friend who I guide with who lives in Tuscany and apparently he is very good friends with the organizer ... was talk of organizing a tour ... really hoping it comes off!.
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