When you’re a cyclist everyone is expecting you to attend races and popular events. I did, I attended few very well known events, but still, I prefer cycling on my own!
Everyone knows L’ Eroica, right? L’Eroica was born for the love of the cycling that formed a good part of the history and literature of Italy, especially in Tuscany. The idea was to seek out the authentic roots of this fantastic sport, with its great, popular heart, and rediscover the beauty of fatigue and the thrill of conquest. Today Eroica is organised in 5 continents.
So here some memories of my first Eroica in Gaiole.
The arrival in Gaiole is always exciting, approaching you can recognise that you are on the right track when you glimpse the first intrepid cyclist peddling and the crowd approaching the center of the village. Looking around I redeem myself that there are two worlds, the heroic one with its perfect, shiny, refurbished bikes, as beautiful as they used to be and then me, who got an old bike, a bicycle from 30 years ago or more that lived and crossed roads with me and before me.
The world of bicycles is loved by many, demonstrated by the more than 8000 participants in the event, curious armed with cameras and drones and enthusiasts, the ones, fully equipped, we often meet on our roads.
The Chianti hills have beautiful roads, both white and asphalted, you go up and down from one hill to the other without continuity, between vineyards and cultivated fields.
Eroica is also a party, like a festival with food and wine, a market with a lot of vintage clothes and spare parts, it is the town opening its door and offering it’s delicious Chianti Classico.
Sunday is the official day of the competition. There is one Eroica for everyone, from the classic simple one with the 46Km route to the most demanding with its 209Km. The important thing is know how to check your preparation to be able to enjoy the route. For my first Eroica I chose a moderate route of 75km.
I left the camping side after a plentiful breakfast around 8am. I faced the first difficult slop at the “Broglio climb”, that after a few tight bends took us to a road from which I stoped to observe the succession of hills as far as my eye could see, a breathtaking ups and downs.
I reached the first refreshment in Radda in Chianti, a really well-preserved village as well as a crossroads of roads to cycle on. From there after having filled up with wine and sugar my bottle, I continued along the route, first on a provincial road and then again on a dirty white road, this time very demanding. The infamous climb of the “Volpaia”. Some participants in front of me gave up and started pushing their bicycle discouraged by the slippery mud and the slope, but as a true hero I did not give up, I reached the summit and a new refreshment point to grab a well-deserved ribollita dish. Then I went back on my bike, again for the last stretch, a challenging descent and then again up and down but this time on the asphalted main road, many people applaud on the arrival screaming “brave” at loud voice, let’s face it, women in muddy cycling competition are still a rarity!