Thursday, October 7, 2010

L'Eroica 2010

Back in the States after our 2-week trip to Italy for the L'Eroica period cyclotouristic rally. Truly a unique event that takes a step back in time to the heroic early days of cycling. Held in and around the Chianti Region in Tuscany, the course is characterized by the Stada Bianche, the famous white gravel roads that traverse the region. The event offers several course options with the longest being 204km, a shorter 135km route, and numerous shorter routes. I ended up doing the entire 135km route plus the 25km's from the finish area back to our villa. Riders go off as early as 5am for what can be an all-day ride. Riding that early has numerous challenges to say the least. With 3,500 total entires hitting the road, driving anynear near the start town or on the course was tricky. The entire course is open to traffic which you could never get away with here in the States, but in Italy, where cycling tends to be on another level of the public's conscious, the two co-exist nicely. I have ridden in Italy for 5 years and never once felt in danger on the roads. The famous Stada Bianche are an amazing historical feature similar to the cobbled sections of any Belgium 1-day classic. The entire route is registered as a historic cycling route with clearly-marked signs. Most of the sections are very smooth and fast, and very fun to ride. Other sections get very steep and loose with numerous sharp rocks. An early morning drizzle left them perfectly tacky and dust-free. This also helped on the many steep climbs later in the day that many had to walk up. Thankfully my mtb/cross background providing the requisite body english to get up them on standard road tires, although I could have used something smaller than the 39x25 I had. The rest/food stations along the route were amazing with plenty of very-Italian treats and wine to fuel up. I did have the luxary of riding a relativaly modern bike and it was amazing just watching all the riders on vintage equipment and clothing. The gears are already turning on putting together a bike for this event next year. At one point I had more than enough stuff in the parts bins to do it but I can't keep everything around forever just in case. I have to build up a new bike to take over next year anyway so it's just as easy to build one up with this event in mind. Pictures coming once we get them all sorted through.