Riding l’EROICA With Scatto Bike Tours
The preparation for any new bike tour requires a lot of planning and ground work. Scatto Bike Tours’ EROICA/GF Roma is their newest trip and they recently drove from their home base in Vicenza to riding EROICA – the now famous cycling event that requires riders to use antigue bikes – and sort out some of the logistics and details. Here is what they found.
– Words and photos by Scatto Bike Tours. –
Our faithful mechanic David, who is also a vintage bike expert and 9 time participant of the EROICA, set me up with one of his vintage bikes. My longtime friend Steve, who is quickly becoming an EROICA expert, with already six EROICA event participations under his belt, became my faithful assistant, consultant and driver for the weekend.
We arrived already on Friday evening since we managed to get invited to the EROICA Club private dinner at the Castello di Broglio. This is an event for the “hard-core” EROICA riders from all over the world and it was great to talk to Danes, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, Germans, British, and Italian riders and get real first taste of the EROICA from the experts. Great way to start the EROICA weekend… and yes, the Chianti was flowing!
The Saturday weather forecast was giving rain in the afternoon so we decided to register early in the morning and take a walk through the expo & market area. The market is nothing like I have ever seen in my nearly 30 years of working in the bike industry; the market for vintage bikes is alive and rocking, as evidenced by stand after stand of old vintage parts, frames, bikes clothing and more.
The rain arrived in the afternoon but this was no problem for my faithful chauffeur Steve who happily (at least I think so) drove me around to check out a few locations around Gaiole where we will be lodging, eating and wine tasting during our trip. We finished off the day with an early dinner of classic “Fiorentina” steak and a Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 to wash it down.
The EROICA has five different routes to choose from: 32 km, 46 km, 78 km, 130 km and 209 km. There is no timekeeping and no official start times just a starting window during which you have to depart. Large portions of the event are on gravel roads and riding on vintages bikes makes the rides all the more challenging.
Unfortunately, it was still raining early on Sunday so the riders who opted for the longer routes (209 and 130 km) probably had to start in the rain. We rounded up of group of 5 friends and opted for the more reasonable 78 km route and 9 am start time… by that time it had even stopped raining. At the start there is bike check by EROICA staff that makes sure that all the bikes fit the vintage rules set by the organizers.
As we started riding you cannot help but notice the huge variety of people riding; the EROICA is for anybody and everybody. All sizes, ages and fitness levels… all out just to have a good time. Many have certainly dedicated some time to preparing their EROICA; not training but preparing their clothing and vintage look.
I was pleasantly surprised that even though there were 7000 participants (3000 non-Italians),there were no bottlenecks, even in the initial stages on some of the narrow roads. The organization is impeccable and everything runs smoothly in a very laid-back manner. A very special mention goes to the food rest-stops… I have never seen such a huge variety of food and beverages at a cycling event in 30 years of cycling. They had all kinds of cold cuts, sandwiches, bruschette, cakes, bread+nutella, fruit, the famous “ribollita”, steaks and of course more Chianti wine. I think this is the first time a have finished a ride heavier than when I started. Especially in the later rest stops you could find numerous people having a nap… nobody at the EROICA is concerned about personal bests!
One thing that I noticed was that if someone had a mechanical problem (many flats…) there were always at least two/three others ready to lend a helping hand… such is the EROICA spirit. This is an event that brings out the kid in you… the kid that just liked riding his/her bike and enjoying the freedom and going places.
This is an event any cycling fan MUST do at least once. Whatever route you ride you will live an experience that brings you back to cycling in its purest form.
Scatto Bike Tours runs an EROICA/Gran Fondo Roma trip next year that in 9-days includes the 2 epic Italian cycling races and gives you a real combination of great cycling, amazing Italian food and Italian culture.
Check out all the info HERE.