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Vintage sportive will be part of three-day cycling festival

A British version of Italy’s famous Eroica event is to be staged in the Peak District on June 22, 2014.

Like its Italian parent, L'Eroica Britannia will be restricted to riders on pre-1987 bikes, which means down tube shifters and almost certainly no carbon fiber.

The ride will be part of a three-day festival of cycling over the weekend on June 20-22 and will offer : 30, 60 and 100 miles, with the rest of the weekend devoted to a festival of cycling.

Entry fee is £55 for the first 500 riders and £70 thereafter. You will be expected to provide your own insurance.

The originsl l'Eroica is run on Italy's famous 'strada bianchi' white gravel roads. The British edition will start and finish in Bakewell and will use a mixture of dirt roads and minor roads, including the Monsal Trails and private roads on the Duke of Devonshire's Chatsworth Estate. 

While the Italian Eroica is a race, the British edition will be more of a vintage sportive celebrating the ‘heroic’ era of bikes and bike racing (hence the name - ‘eroica’ is Italian for ‘heroic’)

To keep things heroic, therefore, other equipment rules include a restriction to steel frames except Alan and Vitus aluminium; road racing bikes only - no cyclo-cross or mountain bikes - and clip and strap pedals unless you’re brave enough to take to the open road in a pair of Cinelli M71s

Some of the road.cc crew are on their way back from this year’s Eroica, which happened yesterday, and report that the equipment rules are enforced in spirit rather than to the letter. It’s to be hoped UK organisers take the same attitude.

For more information see l’Eroica Brittannia.

[Editor's note: this story has been amended with up-to-date, reduced, entry fees]

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

23 comments

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Ducci [90 posts] 2 years ago
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'While the Italian Eroica is a race, the British edition will be more of a vintage sportive....' not quite, the Strade Bianche is the race event while the Eroica is still a sportive.

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andybwhite [248 posts] 2 years ago
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The over-65 age group will only be allowed to participate in the 30 or 60 mile routes.
WTF ! ageist or what?

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shay cycles [322 posts] 2 years ago
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Pity I sold my last camapg record pedals this year whilst I still ride my 1985 racing bike when I want a fast bike.

Have no shoes with traditional soles and plates anymore so the cost of pedals, shoes and a £70 entry makes the event really prohibitive.

Might be nice to see though!

 7

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't really do Sportives but I don't think £70 is too bad for this when you factor in the food and the three days worth of camping.

I'm not suggesting it's cheap, but it's not scandalous.

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KiwiMike [1187 posts] 2 years ago
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£55 for 3 days camping for an entire family in the Peak District in summer*? That's a bargain right there.

* assuming 'summer' means sunshine, warmth.

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andybwhite [248 posts] 2 years ago
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I emailed the organisers with a piece of my mind and got this response..

"I'm really sorry to have caused you to be unimpressed...The decision has been to remove the rule about the 100M ride. But we will be instructing participants over 65 that they must make a call on their riding ability before taking on the 100m."

Why couldn't they have thought of that in the first place?  7

And yes this is a good price considering camping is included.  1

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mattsccm [330 posts] 2 years ago
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sorry but to me the whole thing is just too much. the price ma sound good for a family for a weekend but its not good for 1 single ride. Its just joining the current trend to screw cycling for all its worth with no thought for tradition or the future.

And you have to find your own insurance.
The age thing stinks. to applude the changes is wrong. I dare bet that if they had said that women had to apply to ride there would be s*** flying. Without being sexist in anyway I bet that there are more men over 65 who are capable of riding a 100 miles than there are women.

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Grubbythumb [61 posts] 2 years ago
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I have been watching and waiting for this event for nearly a year. I am even in the process of building a 1970's clubman's racer, all with age related parts, with this event in mind, and then they released the price of entry and now I seem to have lost all interest, given that I will be a single rider and that I won't be camping.

I think the idea is great, unfortunately the organisers seem to want to reproduce what L'Eroica has grown into, rather than what it started out as.

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Kapelmuur [317 posts] 2 years ago
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I was interested in this until I read the prices  13

I live less than an hour from Bakewell so there's no way I'd want to camp there for 3 days - even if I liked camping, which I don't.

As the event will be on public roads I may well be taking my 1975 Italian racing machine for a spin in the Peak District that weekend  3

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davidjks [2 posts] 2 years ago
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Entry fee for this years Eroica started at 40 euros but you had to subscribe another 2 euros to have your name added to the lottery. Except over 60's who had automatic entry for 40 euros without lottery. After that batches of entries were released for upwards of 100 euros with the money going to charities. No camping except in a small football field in the centre of Gaiole. Soon filled by the 5000 entries.

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Ghedebrav [1100 posts] 2 years ago
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Who checks the age of the bikes?  39

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nostromo [55 posts] 2 years ago
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Don't really understand the issue with the price. In Chiantishire the whole area is onboard with l'Eroica and everyone seems happy to help. The villages all enter into the spirit of the thing and I suspect there is an army of volunteers helping out while the regional authority is supportive.

In the UK, nothing is for free and where cycling is concerned everything costs and putting something like this on will cost plenty. So as far as I'm concerned, if you want a truly unique and glorious cycling event in the best traditions of l'Eroica then this is a reasonable price to pay.

If you can't or won't afford it, then fine, but I don't see the point in kneejerk grumbling. But there again, most cyclists in the UK would rather shit in their hands than start clapping I reckon.

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monty dog [457 posts] 2 years ago
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Just returned from Gaiole from riding the real "Eroica" and the general consensus was that this is an over-priced rip-off. Some of the commercialisation of L'Eroica is starting to spoil a great event, and this franchised version just seems to confirm that. The weekend before this is the Retro-Ronde in Oudenaarde and that's where I'll likely be heading - 10 euros entry, a great atmosphere in a cycling-friendly region.

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chorltonjon [36 posts] 2 years ago
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Now this looks like fun! It could be a fabulous weekend. My family love the area and Chatsworth in particular. My '85 Raleigh Royal would be excellent. Need some size 12 vintage shoes..

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nostromo [55 posts] 2 years ago
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monty dog wrote:

Just returned from Gaiole from riding the real "Eroica" and the general consensus was that this is an over-priced rip-off. Some of the commercialisation of L'Eroica is starting to spoil a great event, and this franchised version just seems to confirm that. The weekend before this is the Retro-Ronde in Oudenaarde and that's where I'll likely be heading - 10 euros entry, a great atmosphere in a cycling-friendly region.

Just got back from Gaoile myself and didn't get the same 'general consensus' about UK l'Eroica, but then I didn't have time to sample everyone while I was there ...
I also like the idea of the Retro-Ronde as well as the Anjou Velo and I admire anyone who has the vision and energy to make them happen.

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Kapelmuur [317 posts] 2 years ago
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If £70 is "a reasonable price to pay", then cycling truly is the new golf.

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KiwiMike [1187 posts] 2 years ago
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Having put on a lot of events in the past, I know how the balancing act goes. No doubt the numbers are limited for good reason (landowners, police, councils etc) and three simultaneous courses of that length will be hard to marshall and support logistics-wise properly. They will have worked out the support costs, their desired profit, divided by the number allowed to ride, and come up with what they did. I'm OK with that, and i'll judge by my experience and that of others whether the 100-mile day out was worth £55. Going on my likely time for 100 on a creaky bike over hills, that'll be about £5.50 per hour. Not bad at all I reckon. With 2-bedroom cottages going for £700+ a week in Bakewell that time of year, it's never going to be a cheap trip for those of us not living close. Hell, I'm looking at a £150 diesel bill just to get there. No, I don't fancy staying 50 miles away and driving in/out.

Yes, they could give people a weak cup of tea and an Eccles cake at the 50-mile mark, and expect you to know where to go. I imagine the level of support is going to be considerably higher.

Yes, you can ride parts of the course (the ones not through private property) for 'free'. Way to totally miss the point. Quality costs. If you want to spend £10 for an entire day out, join Audax UK* and go sleep in a hedge somewhere.

Good on the organisers for sticking their necks out to put this on. They will already be far, far into the red on this with no certainty of places going hence the earlybird discount. Their challenge won't be in putting on a good bikeride. It'll be in making the event into more than a Laura Ashley-themed up-its-own-arse posh food fest with a two-wheeled sideshow. Done right it could be magic. A 3-day Tweed Run with lashings of Real ale etc.

* Disclaimer: I am a member.

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pablopuncheur [1 post] 2 years ago
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"I think the idea is great, unfortunately the organisers seem to want to reproduce what L'Eroica has grown into, rather than what it started out as."

This ^

"If £70 is "a reasonable price to pay", then cycling truly is the new golf."

This ^

"They will have worked out...their desired profit"

Strikes me that the fact that they reduced the prices by £20 within 48 hours of announcing them means they have quickly realized that their original pricing was more than the market would bear.

In the end the proof of the pudding is in the eating and only time will tell if the event is worth it, but being roughly twice the price of an ordinary sportive event they have set themselves a tough task in my opinion.

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nostromo [55 posts] 2 years ago
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If it's anything like an 'ordinary' sportive event you can count me out.

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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I'll be up for it. It's only 10 miles down the road so it would be rude not to as £70 is a lot cheaper than the bus fair to Italy.

As KiwiMike said there plenty knocking the price, but if you view it as a 3 day festival it ain't that bad, plus I suspect that the catering will be a bit more than a few slices of flapjack on a pasting table at the fifty mile mark.

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cisgil23 [55 posts] 2 years ago
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How can you discover the age of a bike ?
I have a Team Super-U road bike (with tubulars, down-tube shifters, and an orange leather/rubber saddle) that I bought in about 1997 second-hand from a small bike shop in Aubres, near Nyons (often included in the route of the TdF).
It's frame has a transfer that it's made of Carbon-Manganese.
I can't take a photo of it as it's in the cellar of my flat in Nyons, and I'm in London at the moment.
Any bike historians have any idea if it's age ?
Would a bike like this be allowed to take part ?
I'll be 65 in two weeks time. Will I be allowed to take part ?  1

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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cisgil23 wrote:

How can you discover the age of a bike ?
I have a Team Super-U road bike (with tubulars, down-tube shifters, and an orange leather/rubber saddle) that I bought in about 1997 second-hand from a small bike shop in Aubres, near Nyons (often included in the route of the TdF).
It's frame has a transfer that it's made of Carbon-Manganese.
I can't take a photo of it as it's in the cellar of my flat in Nyons, and I'm in London at the moment.
Any bike historians have any idea if it's age ?
Would a bike like this be allowed to take part ?
I'll be 65 in two weeks time. Will I be allowed to take part ?  1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_U_%28cycling_team%29

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shay cycles [322 posts] 2 years ago
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In spite of my earlier comment I still think this is a nice idea and I accept that the new prices are better - especially including camping etc. I still feel there ought to be a better option for those like me who can't give a full weekend or 3 days to such an event due to family and other commitments and therefore would come along just for the ride. But the entry fee alone wouldn't stop me taking part.

People might take issue with my comment about other commitments and question my commitment to the cycling - to which I would answer that we're I able to commit the time then I'd probably be racing instead and I'd probably be doing so on my original 1980s bike but with its current clip in pedals and 8 speed cassette (with non-indexed down tube shifters).

I guess my biggest personal hurdle is just the idea of buying a pair of shoes and pedals for just one or two rides a year.

Maybe the lottery .........