L’Eroica is a popular adventure ride for cyclists dressed in vintage cycling gear — wool jerseys, caps, and goggles — and riding vintage (built up to 1987) or historically inspired bikes, meaning newly constructed with downtube shifters, pedals with toe clips, external cables, and 32-spoke wheels.
The event started in 1997 in Gaiole in Chianti in Tuscany, among the many green, rolling hills near Siena, on the white gravel roads used at the Strade Bianche WorldTour race.
“The Heroic” in Italian, the event was launched by Giancarlo Brocci, who wanted to reconnect other cyclists to the golden era of cycling, when Bartali and Coppi reigned supreme, influencing Italian history, literature, culture, and music. The event also serves as as a foundation for the protection and preservation of the last gravel roads in Tuscany.
From March through October, L’Eroica events are held on gravel roads around the world, including in South Africa, California, Japan, Spain, and Great Britain. However the Italian version is the original, and remains the most popular.
The 21st edition took place on Sunday, October 1. Over 7,000 participants chose among five courses around Gaiole in Chianti: the 46km leisure route, the 75km short route, the 115km Chianti Classico route, the 135km medium route, and the 209km long route, which begins before sunrise.
Among those riding was 74-year-old Felice Gimondi, the 1973 world road champion, a winner of Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, and Giro di Lombardia, and only the second rider, after Jacques Anquetil, to win all three Grand Tours.
Event sponsors range from Bianchi and Brooks, both perfectly in line with the vintage theme of the event, to Chianti Classico, the wine consortium of the area, which is served at aid stations in villages along the route, paired with soup, bread, cheese, prosciutto, and figs.
Bianchi, a long-running sponsor of the entire Eroica circuit, provided the following images from this year’s event.