L'Eroica Strade Bianche Bicycle Gran Fondo in Toscana

There's a sense in cycling of retrieving an authentic tradition, that's the synthesis of L'Eroica.........the pleasure of the effort, the adventure, the voyage. L'Eroica bicycle gran fondo has been running since 1997. Conceived by Giancarlo Brocci with the aim of preserving the dusty gravel roads of Tuscany, the"strade bianche". Brocci also wished to re-establish the ambience of cycling and pay homage to the efforts of legendary cyclists. So he conceived L’Eroica as a gran fondo with four different length courses beginning and ending at Gaiole in Chianti Tuscany.  L'Eroica ultimately inspiring a new UCI - Europe Tour race which kicked off in 2007 on similar roads, the ‪Monte Paschi Strade Bianche‬, complete with a mad dash in the final kilometre to the finish line at Piazza del Campo in Siena.

"I personally have a huge passion for cycling" says Brocci. In 1995 Brocci organised a Gran Fondo dedicated to Gino Bartali, the great Tuscan champion known the world over, the gran fondo was held on normal roads. In 1997 Brocci proposed the organisation of L'Eroica dedicated to the preservation of the Strade Bianche as a gran fondo event.

Brocci says the message for all cyclists is that it touches all generations and encourages old and young alike. Intertwined with the collectors passion for old bicycles and authentic woollen jerseys and the passion for the legend of cycling. According to Brocci the notoriety of L'Eroica is attached to the beautiful course, and because of the beautiful strade bianche nothing like this exists anywhere else in the world. Brocci says that by re-introducing the white roads into the course - part of the romance is it takes you back to a bygone era. In cycling there is a formative discipline a tradition, from the young to the old, it continues throughout their lives. There's a sense in cycling of retrieving an authentic tradition, that's the synthesis of L'Eroica, the pleasure of the effort, the adventure, the voyage.

L'EROICA (french version) from Edouard Sepulchre on Vimeo. Edouard Sepulchre has a penchant for creating emotive films, here's his take on L'Eroica. Check out the guy with a hand full of thumb tacks and how to use them to win - Circa 1910 style.

In 2012 L'Eroica will run on Sunday October the 7th. There were about 4,000 starters in 2011 and the age range for riders is between fifteen and sixty years. A limit of 500 foreign riders under the age of sixty means you have to get in early to register. If you are over sixty you can still register and you'll be exempted from the usual field limitations, but you'll be expected to ride on one of the shorter courses, not the 205 km course. The courses are 38 km, 75 km, 135 km and 205 km. The two longer courses have permanent signage. Registrations begin in early March. Keep an eye on the official website for registration details - L'Eroica

The start is in Gaiole, participants in the two longer rides are sent off early, in the dark with lights. By the time the sun is up riders on the shorter courses are getting under way. The ride can take up to ten hours or more, even on the 135 km course, let alone the 204 km course. Stops to repair punctures, rest stops and the course itself all add to the time taken, obviously how long it takes depends on your own ambition, aptitude and intent.

Picturesque Strade Bianche form the core concept of L'Eroica, yet these white hilly roads snaking their way through Toscana present hardships dealt in many forms, punctures, loose gravel - even more treacherous in the dark, hills which punish tired legs and gravelly technical descents all adding to the test of skill and endurance. For the uninitiated changing a single / tubular (sew up tyre glued to the rim) can be a challenge in itself.

The Bikes L'Eroica is a dream come true for hardened velo aficionado's, if the scenery isn't enough, the bikes add to the authenticity. Bikes must consist of frames created prior to 1987, and the group sets must be from that period or earlier. Meaning cables exiting from brake hoods, rear brake cable attached externally along the top tube, and feet strapped into pedals using toe clips and toe straps, perhaps you'll need a good old fashioned Italian boot maker here for a replica set of Detto Pietro's. The gear on show translates into a veritable vintage bike lover's paradise.

Brooks of England produced their take on L'Eroica 2011.

Velo fashionista's pay homage to past racing greats, donning woollen jersey's, some even wrapping a spare tyre around their shoulders. Many stalls have vintage paraphernalia on sale including woollen jerseys.

An official time limit applies, riders who finish by 7.30 pm receive a bottle of chianti and a commemorative plate to celibrate their achievment. There are many other special prizes for bikes and riders.

Riders commented"It's not being strong, it's having fun."

"I like the beauty, not the technique."

"I like the old style tradition -- competition, natural competition"

"About the myth like ancient Greece."

Today the world of cycling is diversifying in many new directions, L'Eroica manifests itself as unique for cycling enthusiasts - velo aficionado's, historians, collectors, those who seek beauty in the landscape, camaraderie and those who revel in the strength and courage to participate, and importantly those who immerse themselves in L'Eroica - the heroic.

Gran Fondo From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclosportive

A cyclosportive, or often simply sportive, is a short to long distance, organised, mass-participation cycling event, typically held annually. Cyclosportive is short for the French term randonnée cyclosportive (the spelling cyclosportif is sometimes also used but cyclosportive is correct as randonnée is a feminine noun in French). The Italian term gran fondo is commonly used for these events in the United States.

Participants, many cyclists use sportives to challenge themselves in a personal battle against the distance and then ultimately, the clock. Also like the marathon, the top placed riders in a cyclosportive ride the event like a race and there are prizes awarded and considerable prestige for top place finishers in events like La Marmotte, L'Étape du Tour and the Ardechoise.

A cyclosportive falls between a traditional cycle road race and the more challenging non-competitive randonnée or Audax events. Riders normally carry a number and the time they take to complete the course is recorded. There is usually an upper time limit within which the course must be completed (unlike many randonnée events, there is no lower limit preventing riders from completing the course quickly). The already lengthy course will traditionally include climbs and difficult riding conditions, adding to the merit of the event (e.g. the cobblestones of the Paris–Roubaix).

The routes will usually be well sign-posted and/or marshalled (some cyclosportives take place on roads which have been closed to motor traffic for the duration of the event), riders will be able to use feeding stations positioned at intervals along the route to replenish their food and drink supplies and mechanical and medical support may also be provided. Some attract thousands of participants - since 2000 l'Etape du Tour has offered places to 8,500 riders each year.