Eroica Britannia: a ride for heroes
The original L’Eroica sprang from the Tuscan hills of the Chianti region back in 1997 as local Italian cyclists sought to preserve the strade bianche (literally the 'white streets', which in reality are chalky white gravel roads) from being tarmacked over. This ride saw 92 riders set off on steel steeds (pre-1987) in woollen vintage outfits, and from these humble beginnings a legend in the amateur international cycling calendar was born.
Now, over 5,000 cyclists battle the steep slopes of Chianti every October on courses of 30, 50 and 100 miles long, and the small town of Gaiole-in-Chianti turns into un casino, as the Italians would say, with 15,000 arriving for the cycling festival and to wish their 'heroes' well on their journey.
In 2014, just like Bianchi, Colnago and Campagnolo before it, this fine Italian export made its way to British shores and settled in Bakewell for the inaugural Eroica Britannia. The ethos is the same: good spirits, steel frames and a challenging ride. Only good Derbyshire ale and hearty British fare has replaced the Chianti and cucina Italiana on the menu.
Cycling UK will join the Eroica Britannia team again this weekend (19 – 21 June) to contribute to the fun of the festival and, through our stalwart volunteers, to the smooth running of the ride. A number of staff and fundraising riders will also be brushing the dust off our bikes, donning our distinctive blue and white jerseys - featuring a Winged Wheel naturally - and joining the 3,000 other cyclists in the lush setting of the Peak District. If you see us do say hello!
On the Cycling UK stand this year is the opportunity to enter a fantastic prize draw for a chance to win a collection of appropriate prizes, including: a Le Coq Sportif cycling cap; a Tour de France retro 2015 jersey; dedicated 2015 jersey and socks; a Brooks Limited Edition bike saddle; a bronze Campagnolo big corkscrew; a CycleMiles vintage bicycle cushion; and two retro cycling mugs.
Getting into the spirit of the event, we will also be encouraging visitors to our stand to take part in a 'Snap & Share', where you will have the opportunity to don a fake moustache - of varying styles to suit your preference - and use an array of props to create a fun memory of your time at the event. As well as the fun side, staff will also be present to let you know about Cycling UK’s broader activities, as we campaign to make the roads safer for cyclists and encourage more people to see the benefits of cycling.
The success of our involvement, like so many of Cycling UK’s activities, however is entirely down to the dedication of our volunteers. Whether pointing you in the right direction on the course, serving tea at a pit stop or ensuring the festival fun never stops, over 100 people have volunteered their free time to make sure that Eroica Britannia is a success.
We look forward to seeing you there – tally ho!
You can find out more about volunteering with Cycling UK at other events and in general on our website: www.cyclinguk.org/volunteer