29 Sep L’Eroica – Period Cycling in the Heart of Chianti
On the first Sunday of October each year, cyclists gather in the heart of Chianti for an event like no other. L’Eroica is a non-competitive cycling event, created to capture the essence of a cycling golden era. Thousands of riders travel from across the world to take part in this wonderful event, dressed in historically-inspired costumes (Merino wool jerseys, leather shoes, small peak caps) and riding vintage bikes (only those made prior to 1987 may be used).
There are several routes of various lengths that riders can follow, enabling cyclists of all ages (above 15) and abilities to take part. But don’t be fooled – the name itself, L’Eroica, literally means “the heroic” and that’s precisely how it feels. Most of the course is made up of the “strada bianche” – Italy’s crushed gravel tracks. The rough surface breaks bikes and shreds tires, and crashes are a distinct possibility. And since 2015 every participant has been required to submit a medical certificate in order to take part.
Most riders choose to follow one of the shorter routes, such as the 38km one which gives them a chance to ride along the ancient roads without it being too overwhelming. However for the more adventurous there is the full 205km coure, which is so demanding that anyone who finishes it in under 12 hours is awarded a huge hamper.
All riders, no matter which route they choose, are fuelled by a mouth-watering selection of food and wine along the way. The food stops are lavish buffets, rather than places to simply wolf down calories – cakes, stews, and fruit are all laid on, and gallons of local Chianti are on tap. This is all designed to be as authentic a slice of the golden era of cycling as possible.
Since it was first held in 1997, the event has become a massive part of the local calendar. It offers an entirely different ethos to modern cycling events, and the whole community enjoys welcoming riders to our beautiful corner of the world. Here at Le Pratola, we look forward to this event every single year, as the route passes just beneath the villa, and it is a delight to watch the riders passing by in their vintage costumes and on obsolete bikes.
To find out more about the event (including information about its history and how you can ride the historic route at any time of year), visit L’Eroica home page here.