Monday, July 2, 2012

Faces of L'Eroica

A race lost in time: The participants of L'Eroica are as vintage as the race itself. Photographers- Nicola Carignani, Ertzui Film, also follow them on Flickr.

Welcome to Gaiole, a small town in the state of Chianti, Italy. Here is where the L'Eroica bicycle race is held, a race that has it's own unique following. Bicycle racing is big all over Italy, so it's no surprise that there would also be a bicycle race in this area. The difference is that this race comes with a theme of it's own; vintage bicycle racing. And the participants are no less vintage than their bicycles, whether it's in appearance or in age. This bicycle race does not allow any bicycles made after the 1980's. The rules also specify that the bicycle needs to have shift levers if geared. You can see bicycle's here from all the way back to the 1920's and even older still in working function and actually being used in the event.

A tweed ride on steroids, L'Eroica winds through gravel roads that out of tradition have never been paved. It follows some of the route of Strade Bianche, a race also held in Chianti. Riders race on these roads the same way they have been for almost a century. The race is known for being self supported, but if you happen to catch sight of the pit crew they might be able to lend you a spare wheel.

No Mavic Yellow cars in this race, but this guy might help you if you happen to have a flat. Spinwell
A race full of hardcore, handle-bar mustache sporting guys. My kind of peeps. By Velorunner

Taking a rest break. Courtesy of Cicli-Berlinetta

This race truly embodies the romanticism of the golden age of cycling. It personifies the ideals and visions shared by those who have an appreciation of the old-school and long for simpler times. And these guys don't merely collect their bicycles in a show room and use them as conversation pieces. They are out there mashing on their cottored cranks taking their heavy bicycles up and down winding hills, through pot holes, and through loose gravel and unpaved roads. Guys like these can just take the easy route and sit on their lawn chairs drinking their Ensure. But they choose not to, and that's why I admire them for their hardcore ability.

I'm a niche blogger, and micro-niches like these fascinate me. I learned about L'Eroica researching if there were any bicycle races that were suited to people who rode on old bicycles. In an age were carbon fiber is king and the cost of professional gear turns away many people from getting into racing, this might be the answer to the common person. This looks like a fun event to hold in my area, and collaborating with the community I would like to one day host such an event in my city.

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