L'eroica Britannia 2014

by Maggers   June 17, 2014  

Anyone else out there planning to attend? Just looking for opinions on a few things.

I'm currently torn on how "true" to the original build to be. 9000'+ of climbing with 42/25 as my lowest gear is sobering to say the least. My old CLB brakes also have about the same effect as Swiss cheese on a long steep decent.

I know it's all about the challenge but is it poor form to at least change out for a 14/28?

I know the route will be marked but I guess it can't hurt to have the Garmin in the back pocket. I think pinning it to the handle bars is asking a bit much. Is this poor form?

Anyone got any knowledge of the route and the surface. 30% being "off road" I'm also querying my tyre choice. I managed 6500' over the same distance the other day on the bike I'll be using but the climbs for l’eroica seem a lot longer and steeper.

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I'd say all those things - the 14/28, modern brakes, and phone/gps in case of trouble - are common sense necessities.

The frame is the only thing they're likely to be fussy about; beyond that it's up to you if you want to show 'good form' by being retro, but jeopardise your chances of a grand day out...

posted by chokofingrz [284 posts]
17th June 2014 - 14:59

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The rules are pretty specific about pre-1987 bike. Must have downtube shifters with some very specific exceptions. Must be steel with some very specific exceptions. Definitely not allowed clipless pedals.

Reviews I've read on the original Italian version suggest they are fairly tight on these rules. There's also a bit about "inappropriate attire" potentially getting you booted out which I'm guessing just means Team Sky kit Wink

I've got a couple of vintage jerseys. Ideally I'll wear my Peugeot team top as I'll be on a Pug bike, but as it's long sleeve if the forecast is warm it might have to stay at home in favour of an early '80s French regional sponsored team jersey that I picked up a while back on Fleabay. I'm guessing there will be a few Peugeot jerseys on show but if you see someone advertising "Credit Agricole de la Moselle" that will be me.

No chance of me wearing anything other than modern shorts below that but I'll go for a plain black pair.

Can't see anyone having a problem with you switching the freewheel. I originally had a 14-24 on mine with a 52-42 chainset but I've now got a 14-26 on the back. That got me round the Wild Wales Challenge last year with similar elevation over a slightly shorter route so this should be do-able.

I find the old Mafac 'Racer' centre pulls on my Pug are actually superior to the modern Tektro cantis on a CX bike I have. Try to source some Koolstop pads if you can as they seem to make a difference and they do replica versions of a lot of the old pads.

Can't speak for all the surface but I think most of the 'off-road' stuff is tarmac. The bit I have done is the Monsal Trail and that is very hard packed gravel. Rode it last year on the same bike I'll be riding this weekend and it was no problem though we had a couple of thunderstorms on the way back so I did get pretty mucky! Lucky there are tunnels to shelter in.

Incidentally I only just found out I will be taking part in this. I really fancied it but couldn't justify the entry fee - but then I won an entry for me and a guest through Brooks. So now I am super excited. See you in Bakewell!

posted by Bhachgen [89 posts]
17th June 2014 - 17:00

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Cheers chokofingrz. I'll be on my '70s Hirondelle so will look out for you, in a far too warm green LC KAYL tecnoplast jersey.

Good point about the pads. I'll have a dig around in the shed for a pair of composite ones And switch out to a more sensible freewheel.

posted by Maggers [47 posts]
17th June 2014 - 20:29

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I'll be riding an '85 Merckx in Molteni Orange that's got a mix of Campag from down the ages so I do have the benefit of 39/29 which I'm sure I'll be glad of, along with 90's dual pivot callipers. The gruppo's shiny silver so looks period from a distance!

Tyres-wise I wanted gum-walls so was a bit restricted in choice: Challenge Elite 23's. They look the business on shiny box-section rims. Hope they don't get too shredded on any gravel sections as they weren't cheap.

Clothing - repro Team Bic jersey (decided not to be a total Merckx fanboy) and plain black modern bib-shorts. Hoping to borrow an original bright yellow 80's Bell helmet from a friend: it looks terrible! I was trying to get hold of a leather 'hairnet' helmet but they're too expensive for just one ride.

The main thing that's vexing me is pedals and shoes. Getting NOS cycling shoes in my size has been too difficult. I've tried some normal shoes that look the part with toe-strap cage pedals but they are far too flexy and I find I'm straining calf muscles that don't usually get a workout. I have a nice pair of Giro Republics but they don't properly fit into the toe clips (don't want to wreck them). They'd look fine on Shimano SPD/cage combination M324 pedals and no-one would be able to tell I'm clipped in: seems crazy to object to that but I'm not sure I want to take the risk of being DQ'd...

posted by Pauldmorgan [173 posts]
17th June 2014 - 21:16

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I'll be there, and can't wait.

I rode the route the other week on modern bike with compact chainset to assess the surfacing/gear combo questions...

If you have a 14/28 you might consider it, if only for the ascent of Mam Nick out of Edale. The issue isn't so much getting over the climbs but stretching your energy reserves out over the day. Mam Nick is about a quarter of the way through and it has the potential to burn a match or two. If you don't pace it right you might start to suffer by the time you start the long drag out of Ashbourne towards Cromford. And there's a real kicker near the end just to make you earn the 'Man of Steel' title...

The off-road surfaces are mostly fine, especially along the Monsal and Tissington Trails. However there are a couple of real rucked sections that have to be negotiated with some care. Keeping the pedal straps loose on these bits is mandatory, or there is huge potential for coming a cropper. Going downhill on these bits is extra fun as the surface is so gravelly you only have to dab the brakes to start sliding the wheels out...

One section was impassable when we rode the route due to a track collapse. We had to divert around over a very muddy path that would be better suited to a cyclocross bike rather than a handbuilt vintage Italian piece. I'm hoping they have sorted that out by the weekend as several hundred cyclists carrying their pride and joy over that path will not make it any better.

My Garmin will be in pocket to record the trip for posterity (and to beep if I make the wrong turn Confused ) The route is quite straightforward and I imagine that with signs and a peloton of vintage cyclists to follow you won't go wrong.

I have also ridden the southern section on the vintage steed earlier in the year so I am reasonably confident I can get round on my 42/25 combo, but I know the area quite well so I may have the advantage of knowing where and when to put an effort in and where not to. If I end up walking bits of Mam Nick then so be it...

My tyres are original to the bike as far as I can tell Laughing Old Vittoria tubs with cracked rubber and everything. People keep telling me they should be changed but theres a few hundred k left in them yet I reckon Wink

Enjoy it, see you there.

posted by synoptic [8 posts]
18th June 2014 - 13:10

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What a brilliant day! A really cracking event and the organisation generally excellent. Couldn't fault the route and of course the weather helped immensely. Blasting down some of the white gravel stuff guaranteed to put a big grin on the face though had it been wet it could have got a bit messy. No doubt there will be lots of pics, blogs and reviews out there once everyone has recovered.

posted by Bhachgen [89 posts]
23rd June 2014 - 9:29

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