Celebrating Cycling’s Heritage & HistoryCelebrating Cycling’s Heritage & HistoryCelebrating Cycling’s Heritage & History

L’Eroica is an event that celebrates the romance of cycling’s past. Rooted in history, L’Eroica was founded in 1997 in Italy to allow people to reconnect with cycling’s heritage, which inspired so much in Italian literature, culture, and music. This year L’Eroica came to the US for the first edition of Eroica California, held in Paso Robles on April 12, 2015. Giro attended the event as a global sponsor not only to connect with the many people who attended, but also to ride the 127-mile route for the true Eroica experience.

L’Eroica is Italian for “the heroic,” and we discovered why the event is given this name as we rode the longest route. Completing this ride was truly a heroic achievement. The challenge of riding Eroica comes not only from the route itself, but also from the bike and equipment you must ride. We left our modern machines at home because Eroica is all about history, and to participate, you must embrace all aspects of vintage cycling, from bikes to apparel. It’s required that you ride a bike that was built pre-1987, with classic components including downtube shifters and toe-clip pedals. When riding Eroica, you should feel like you’re riding amongst the forefathers of cycling, experiencing the sport in its purest state.

The 127-mile Eroica route took us on a challenging mix of pavement, dirt, and gravel roads that started in Paso Robles and journeyed throughout San Luis Obispo County. This area is known for the rich agricultural history and hilly terrain, and the route embraced everything about its location. We meandered through vineyards, rode amongst California Oak trees, and struggled to make it up steep climbs. Proper gearing was key as some of the climbs reached a 20% grade on loose gravel, but all hard efforts were rewarded with stunning views and delicious rest stops. The rest stops included wine tastings from local vineyards, some of the tastiest French fries we’ve ever had that were made with local olive oil, and fresh fruit smoothies made from locally grown produce. The route paid homage to its location, and riding Eroica California gave you a deep appreciation for the beauty and culture of San Luis Obispo County.
Once riders completed Eroica California, they were greeted with an opportunity to take a finish-line photo in a very special photo booth. To keep with the vintage event theme, Giro hosted a 1966 VW Bus that had been converted into a photo booth. This was a fun opportunity to meet with Eroica participants, hear stories about their ride, and gather a unique collection of images that conveyed the spirit of cycling’s heritage and captured the positive emotion created by a long day on the bike with good friends.
Eroica California was an incredible experience, and a truly special day on the bike. We can’t wait to step into our toe-clip pedals and ride this event again next year.

For more information on Eroica, visit the website here.

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