Heroic – and a little bit crazy

How to organise the perfect mass-participation bike ride

by Martin Thomas   October 11, 2013  

If you’re going to organise a mass-participation bike ride here are a few tips designed to ensure maximum enjoyment for you and your riders:

  1. Ban any technology that makes cycling easy. Indexed gears, out; compact chainsets, out; brakes that work, out; clipless pedals, out; lightweight frames, out; modern clothing designed to increase comfort and regulate body temperature, out. In fact, why not specify that all bikes taking part must be at least a quarter of a century old? Yeah, that’ll do it.
  2. Organise a huge dinner the night before the ride and feed all riders a rich diet of meat, pasta, puddings and cheese, washed down with liberal quantities of Chianti. Keep them up until midnight and cheer wildly whenever one of them attempts to drink an entire bottle of wine in one.
  3. Encourage all riders to stay in hotels where the early breakfast offering consists of nothing but coffee and cake (more than one type of cake is allowed but all must be extremely sugary and free of any form of dried fruit or nuts).
  4. Ensure that lengthy sections of all routes follow unpaved dirt roads that are dusty and slippery when dry and treacly and even more slippery when wet.
  5. Encourage as many riders as possible to use tubular tyres so that when they puncture there is a satisfying explosion that can be greeted with a hearty cheer by anyone within earshot.
  6. At the feed stations, offer weary riders glasses of wine and pieces of bread that have been soaked in Chianti and then sprinkled with sugar. Alternatively, feed them rich stews and homemade fruit tarts.

Combine all these elements in the breath-taking countryside of Tuscany and you have last weekend's l’Eroica, probably the most magnificent and absurd bike ride I’ve ever taken part in; definitely the most fun. I am officially hooked.


5 user comments

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Sounds like a lot of fun (except that downing a bottle of wine in one business!). I'm definitely up for pit stops that include stews! Beautiful photo. I'm guessing lots of Bianchi logos on show?!

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

sm's picture

posted by sm [355 posts]
12th October 2013 - 11:13


More Bianchi logos (and bikes) than anything else, yes. Some truly gorgeous bikes on show... I was riding an Olmo Grand Prix from around 1979. Drop dead gorgeous. If I wasn't saving the photos for my Simpson Magazine article I'd share more of them here Wink

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [600 posts]
12th October 2013 - 12:04


Sounds similar to the Anjou Velo if you want something different. I hear it was based on the Eroica.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1315 posts]
14th October 2013 - 0:35


Yes a mate cycled this year's Anjou Velo and had a great time. No strade bianchi (dirt roads) or boozy feedstops there though...

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posted by Martin Thomas [600 posts]
14th October 2013 - 5:48


You forgot to add the grappa which could be sampled generously at the food stops - even at the first at 9am!

The climbs to Montelcino and Monte Sainte Marie really are leg-burners if riding traditional gears, with the dirt road descents equally fearsome.

Bianchi try as they might are actually ruining the character of the event as 'official' bike sponsor by insisting that no other bike companies can exhibit their wares without having a Bianchi alongside. This kept a number of small Italian companies away which was a shame, as I can see a Bianchi down the High Street.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [395 posts]
14th October 2013 - 17:55