On Sunday 21st June 2015, over 3000 riders sporting their best tweed and pre-1987 steel bicycles braved the Peak District in Derbyshire, over 3 cycle routes spanning the short 30 mile ride, the medium 55 mile ride and the long 100 mile ride.
Mixed in to the wonderful 3-day festival that was Eroica Britannia held at the Bakewell showground in Derbyshire.
From the 19th – 21st of June, the wonderfully art directed festival included live music, a fairground, what the festival called ‘The World’s Largest Bike Jumble Sale’ (all true), great food and multiple drink possibilities, glamping grounds (if you were so inclined – we booked ourselves into the Rutland Arms Hotel however) and the sheer extravagant beauty of the Peak District.
We rode our pre-87 Eddy Merckx and Francesco Moser single-speeds across the Peak District doing just the small ride – possibly the worst ride of our lives but the most impressive and joyous moment to have crossed that finish line with all our fellow vintage steelers. The ride was less about our physical fitness but and more about the collaboration between human and machine with that one goal. To finish, no matter how long that took. At the end of the race, everyone is a Hero or a Heroine. And a winner.
Eroica Britannia was in its 2nd year in 2015 and is the British take on the original L’eroica Italia which was started in 1997 in an effort to preserve the beauty of vintage steel bicycles pre-dating those nasty carbon pieces that men and some women) in spandex often like to pursue.
It was also born out of a purpose to maintain the lovely white roads of Tuscany and at its conception, L’eroica had a mere 92 cyclists. Much has changed since then. They now stand at a maximum number of 5000 riders per L’eroica and the concept of The Eroica is now alive and very much peddling in Japan, Spain, California and of course, Great Britannia
Would we do it again? Yes, absolutely! But perhaps with 3 gears this time.