A gravel road winds off into the countryside; there’s no sign of civilization as far as the eye can see. An old steel bicycle rides into view. The frame is bulky, the pedals are clipped, the seat is leather. The rider sports a wool jersey that looks like it was designed right after World War 2.
A few similarly outfitted cyclists trail closely behind. One of them pulls out an iPhone and snaps a pic of the gorgeous landscape. No, this isn’t a time paradox—it’s the Eroica.
The Eroica is basically the cycling version of a Renaissance fair or a Civil War reenactment. It’s an event where a bunch of dedicated bike nerds get together and relive the glory days of the sport. They bring the coolest, oldest bikes they can find, suit up in period-appropriate garb, and then go for a good old fashioned ride—just like their forefathers would have.
It’s not an easy ride—and it’s much more difficult without the conveniences of modern cycling design—but that’s part of the fun of it. Experiencing what cycling used to be like can give you a greater appreciation of the sport in general. Living a piece of where we were 50/60/100 years ago really puts the state of cycling today into perspective.
“We want people to rediscover the beauty of fatigue and the thrill of the conquest.” That’s the mission that drove Giancarlo Brocci to create the Eroica, a ride designed to let cyclists experience a taste of the golden age of the sport.
Brocci started the event in his native Italy in 1997, with just 92 of the most hardcore old-school cyclists that Brocci could find. Turns out, there are actually quite a few historical bike fans out there because the Eroica spread like wildfire. Today, just a mere 20 years after its inception, people are riding Eroicas in 7 countries across the world.
Each event is a party for bike lovers. Riders show off their vintage bikes and outfits, share tales of rides gone by, partake in local cuisine, and just generally have a blast. The rides were designed as tours of the best scenery the world has to offer. Dirt and gravel roads wind through verdant hills, historical villages, beautiful orchards, breathtaking coastlines, with each turn opening up into another stunning vista.
It’s a way to geek out with a bunch of other bike nerds, get in touch with cycling’s history, and experience some beautiful locales—what’s not to love? Sure, vintage bikes and gear may seem a little silly compared to the modern stuff, but there’s a sort of beauty in embracing the archaic. The best way to truly appreciate what we have today is to look back and see how far we’ve come.
If you’d like to learn more, or to find an Eroica near you, check out the Eroica home site. Luckily for us at Art’s HQ, Eroica California takes place right outside our doorstep on the beautiful Central Coast—we’ll see you there in April.