L'Eroica bike race held in Gaiole in Chianti in Tuscany every first Sunday of October is something really traditional and truly unique. Imagine to cycle on gravel roads (the so called “strade bianche”) with a vintage bike coming from the eighties, with an appropriate suit coming directly from those years and wonderful landscapes of Sienese Chianti, the Valdarbia, the Crete Senesi and the Val d'Orcia all around. The name literally means “the heroic”, and that's precisely how it feels: no support cars and gravel dirty roads that might ruin the bikes.
A little bit of history
L'Eroica was first held in 1997 with the aim of saving Tuscan crushed gravel tracks from being replaced with asphalt. So the race was born for a “romantic” purpose strictly connected to the territory and today it is an example of appreciation of the environment, sustainable lifestyle and “clean” cycling. But there is more. L'Eroica has also a wine and food tradition, with lavish buffets of beef stew, jam tarts, other dishes of the Tuscan tradition and gallons of Chianti wine at the food stops.
Participation rules and dates
There is a strict regulation for this bike race and only a limited number of participants (about 5.000 cyclists) can join the Eroica, you will find the detailed info in the official guidelines. Another thing you should know is that it is possibile to choose between five different paths: 209 km, 135 km, 115 km, 75 km and 46 km. In 2016 the Eroica took place on October 2 and celebrated its twentieth edition. In case you are interested in taking part in the 2017 edition, write down the date: Sunday October 1, 2017.
L'Eroica all year round: the permanent route
In case you don't have the possibility to participate in the official event in October, don't worry: you can ride on the permanent route every day of the year! The path is open to all, it can be completed in one or more days by anyone who wants to test their skills or simply wander the area by bike. You can also get a special road book that you can use to collect the stamps along the route and receive the "diploma". Discover more here.
L'Eroica beyond Gaiole
Following after the great success both in Italy and worldwide, the Eroica experience has been successfully exported in Japan, Great Britain and many other locations all over the world. Here is the list of the Eroica related events as for 2017:
- L'Eroica South Africa in Montagu, Cape Winelands (March 18)
- L'Eroica California in Paso Robles, US (April 7-9)
- L'Eroica Nova in Buonconvento, Tuscany (April 30), which is the only Eroica race open to modern bikes
- L'Eroica Montalcino, also in Tuscany (May 7)
- L'Eroica Eiyu in Mount Fuji, Japan (May 12-14)
- L'Eroica Hispania in La Rioja region, in Spain (June 2-4)
- L'Eroica Britannia in Bakewell, Great Britain (June 18)
- L'Eroica Limburg in the southern region of the Netherlands (July 1st)
- L'Eroica Punta del Este in Uruguay (December 2-3)
The original version of this article was written by Serena Puosi.
Cover image credit: Gian Luca Gagino