Many of you reading this blog will remember a simpler life. When I finished my A levels in 1993 the internet was just being born and the idea that in my late 30’s most of my work would come from it, was an impossible dream since simply no one had got that far ahead in their thinking. My other passion is sailing where in the early 90’s Volvo Ocean round the world yacht race, spectators would watch the boats go to sea and watch them get into port with only the odd salty tale telling them what happened between – yet in the 2018 edition, you will be able to watch live footage of the sailing at any time, even 1800 miles from the nearest civilisation in the Southern Ocean.
Cycling has hit high speed too. Technological advances have meant that bikes are super light and super strong. The whole sport has been subjected to high science with riders having target wattage output in order to know they will be competitive on the mountains, and everything from superfast electronic gear changes to carbon brakes.
L’Eroica – a dream is born
In 1997 an Italian called Giancarlo Brocci set up a cycling festival that has eschewed the trappings of science, and made cycling heroic again. Riding on and off the roads of Tuscany, cyclists must ride pre 1987 design road bikes.
It isn’t just the bikes – riders must wear clothes from the same era, as well as keeping hydrated and nourished using systems of the day too. This all combines to take the science out of cycling and make the best man or woman win.
Tuscany has a network of ‘strada bianche’, gravel paths that connect towns and villages yet where cars cannot now go. This means cyclists need skill to go quick, yet are safe from other road users.
Where in the UK, we have other cycling events where the roads are closed (much to the annoyance of drivers) the L’Eroica goes where cars generally do not. In the eyes of Brocci, the ride is about “return to the deep roots of cycling, rediscovering the beauty in fatigue, getting back to real needs, like hunger and thirst, which must be satisfied, or being physically tired, as opposed to stressed.”
The Eroica events now take place all over the world in five countries, culminating with L’Eroica 2015, with the 18th annual event taking place on 4th October 2015.