The 20th edition of the original Eroica ride in the heart of the Chianti hills attracted over 7,000 riders on Sunday 2nd October, all riding bikes from or inspired by the pre-1987 era. External brake cables, traditional pedals and down tube gear levers were obligatory, with most people showing off specially restored bikes and carefully selected matching clothing.
After riding the short 46km route, I watched as hundreds of riders reached the finish of the five distances (46, 75, 115, 135 and 209km) and grabbed some photos of the bikes I liked best. Those tackling the longer rides had set off in the dark and finished tired but happy after a special day out. Everyone got a medal, enjoyed a plate of pasta and promised to come back next year.
There are now Eroica rides in Britain, California, the Netherlands, South Africa, Japan, Spain and Punta del Este in Uruguay, giving everyone a chance to try riding on dirt roads with a vintage bike.
Scroll through the gallery above for lots more photos of what we saw…
The special bikes of L’Eroica 2016
1. Bianchi Basso
The good looking champagne-coloured BassoStephen Farrand
Four gentlemen from Essex were the first to show BikeRadar their bikes after completing the 115km Eroica. We suspect the bikes were provided as part of one of the many of the holiday packages available, but the Basso was especially good looking.
Two Bianchi bikes rest after riding the EroicaStephen Farrand
Bianchi is one of the official sponsors of the Eroica and there were dozens of old Bianchi bikes being used for the different rides. Some were old basic replica models that had perhaps been found in the garage, others were fully restored models like these two, which we saw ‘resting’ together after a day out on the dirt roads or strade bianche as they are called in Italy.
2. Classic orange Tommasini
A stunning orange TommasiniStephen Farrand
Bike maker Tommasini is from the coastal town of Grosseto, just over the Tuscan hills from the home of Eroica. This orange bike was a classic Tommasini, with intricate carved lugs and details.
3. Dark blue Pinarello
A classic deep blue PinarelloStephen Farrand
We spotted a stunning dark blue Pinarello fitted with an immaculate Campagnolo groupset and the standout Campagnolo Delta brakes that were first introduced in the mid-eighties, making them eligible for use at the Eroica by just a year or two. The Delta brakes were notorious for their poor stopping power, and the Italian owner admitted he had struggled on the muddy dirt roads this year.
4. Pink Mercier
The full effect of the pink MercierStephen Farrand
The Italian owner of this pink Mercier bike had a perfectly matching Miko-Mercier-Hutchinson jersey as worn by Raymond Poulidor and Joop Zoetemelk in 1977 and 1978 when he challenged Bernard Hinault at the Tour de France. The bike had been lovingly restored and registered with the Mercier Service Course.
5. Sannino with yellow Galli brakes
The stunning steel SanninoStephen Farrand
Sannino hails from Turin and became well known after sponsoring the Polish and USSR teams in the early eighties. Sannino eventually moved into the same building as the Galli brake company and that is why this stunning bike is fitted with yellow Galli brakes, adding some bling to an already stunning bike. We’ll forgive the owner for the Rapha bidon.
6. Stelbel Strada replica
The Stelbel logo was engraved onto the leather bar coveringStephen Farrand
Stelbel sounds like a German brand but the classic bikes are actually built in Curno near Bergamo and represent the very best Italian frame building craftsmanship. The name comes from that of Stelio Belletti who built car, motorbike and aircraft frames before beginning to build custom bikes as a special project.
Stelbel offer clients a chance to ride one of their bike at Eroica. This replica model was number 12 of a limited number of 25 bikes made to celebrate the Strada bike first created in the eighties. It looked like a perfect bike to ride the Eroica.