The best time of the year is the first of October in Tuscany, Italy. And that means L’Eroica, the most famous vintage bike ride in the world and we were there. Vintage wool jersey overload. Everywhere you look it was an endless sea of colorful vintage wool jerseys. That made us smile! And if that didn’t do it the vast specimens of vintage racing bikes did. Every vintage brand could be found: Masi, Cinelli, Lygie, Gios, Legnano, Dei, Bianchi, Colnago (saw a 1969), and list went on and on.
The weather was very warm 87 degrees in the Chianti/Tuscany region. Crystal blue sky and the sun baked down on everyone. Landscape was dry as a bone. Dust was a problem on the ‘strada bianca’(gravel roads) when cars passed. They made a dust cloud that seemed to linger for ages.
Our team did the 135 km ride which meant departing at 6:45 a.m. Didn’t like dragging out of bed at ‘O’Dark Thirty’ but once a year we deal with it! Of course no one bothers to warm up, they just go full speed for the first kms on adrenaline.
Within the first 6km everyone climbed the candle-lit road up to Brolio Castle which is an enchanting experience in the early dawn. Grand vistas of Chianti region await at the top. Met several riders wearing Woolistic wool cycling jerseys on the first climb. One guy had already broken two spokes on the climb and was trying to get back to the start to repair it. Not sure what became of him.
Rest stops were just a big o’ vintage bike/wool jersey party! Delisch Italian bite-sized food was spread out on long tables. Damn near wanted to roll around on that table it looked so good! Ha! When viewed from the side all you see are hands darting in and out grabbing food. Unfortunately, we had been filming and shooting photos all morning and were too far behind our team to loiter.
After the second L’Eroica food stop the gravel roads turned nasty. We saw lots of wrecks and many mechanical failures. Too many think they can just grab some old bike that hasn’t been ridden in 30+ years and go. We saw forks break (face slide in the gravel-ouch), chains break, old tubulars explode, frame issues, derailleurs stuck, etc. Some riders were just out of their depth on the gravel, especially on the descents. Saw a few riders were using brakes in the deep gravel powder and riding stiff-armed on the drops. Some just wiped out.
Overall, L’Eroica is a great time. Seeing all the like-minded folks, bicycle wool jerseys, vintage Italian bikes, beautiful Tuscan landscapes, and eating Italian cuisine for few days is worth it. Saw several customers wearing Woolistic jerseys from as far as Australia. Those guys were hardcore to make that trip! Will post more photos and some good footage of L’Eroica soon. Just wait until you see the new team jerseys that we debuted at the race!