Eroica is the name of a vintage bike event that started in Italy and now also has a California edition, a few weeks ago in Paso Robles!
Ah that sound an analog dérailleur makes, no index shifting, just move the handle until it falls into the next gear. The bike I rode made that noise, all bikes around me made that noise except for a few single speeds and a few with a Simplex 3-speed. And one of them rode up the steep unpaved hill in the lowest of his three gears where the majority of us had to walk our bikes, on a heavy steel bike, and he didn’t even appear out of breath. Toeclips. Clipless pedals were not allowed. Luckily my bike had toeclips with straps and Jon also lent me his brother’s cycling shoes. Getting into the toeclips never was a problem during the ride. My feet still remembered how to do this. I didn’t manage to get the cleat to catch on the pedal’s ridge and so I had to learn not to pull on the pedals but just push. This made the steeper climbs a bit tricky especially with the high gearing on the bike: 44×26 was the lowest I think (have you seen my thighs? Not Tony Martin material I tell you).
A forty-something year old Mondia Special, Reynolds steel frame, Campy Record. Borrowed to me by Jon on behalf of his brother. The lesson: it’s okay to have short friends as long as their siblings are tall! A great bike. It got a lot of looks and I heard many a “oh a Mondia!” as I rode along. It handled very well on the unpaved roads and descended really nicely.
I rode in replica jersey and shorts of the Peugeot team of the 80-ies. There were many Molteni jerseys of course and Bianchi. I also saw several Atala’s, Raleigh and some Look jerseys. A few went further back for their outfits and wore woolen jerseys from the 20-ies and 30-ies; some with the spare tube wrapped around their shoulders.
The scenery, the route.
Gorgeous. Hey, we’re in California, so duh. The route out Paso Robles was via a bike path, followed by the first unpaved road and climb, and then we were out in the country. The rest stops were at wineries (hips. pardon.) and the route meandered over their property, over their unpaved service roads. The pace of the ride was unhurried. You’re here to see and be seen, to chat, to admire, to encourage. The miles just flew by.
You have to participate in one. These so-called Eroica rides are becoming more popular. There’s the original one in Italy of course but there’s also one in Spain, in Japan and here in Paso Robles! It’s fun, it’s a trip back in time, it’s nostalgic, it’s delightful.