Eroica California is the US version of L'Eroica, which began in Italy in 1997. Dedicated to vintage cycling, featuring rides in vintage clothing, riding vintage bikes and in part, gravel roads. This year it was a 3 day festival held April 8-10 in Paso Robles in Central California. The festival culminates in the rides on Sunday, with routes ranging from 38 to 127 miles.
Joe Bellas, our intrepid BCI member, successfully completed the Heroic Route of 126.9 miles, including some 9,828 feet of climbing, and 36 miles of gravel/unpaved roads! Joe rode his vintage (and beautiful) 1972 Peugeot PX10. And it was quite the adventure as Joe described it in his own words:
I did the long ride and it was....long.
12:45 on the road, 4 flats, but I made it. About 11 hours riding (I was shooting for 10:30-11:00 riding - so I was on pace) Pulled in at 6:45 p.m.
The first 2 flats were probably a rock through the tread - there were a couple small cuts all the way through (Panaracer PTs, 32mm @ 90#), the next 2 were likely a stem cut at the rim hole (that I patched with some duct tape and was good from Cambria on). I put on a new tire after the 3rd flat. Keep in mind, I'm 230#, so your mileage will vary with these tires.
It was mentally much more difficult than I expected - I thought I was ready for the dirt and hills with my training and gears (28 front/32 rear), but having to walk up that first steep at Cass was heartbreaking, especially after just having the Mavic guys change a flat out of the rest stop and lose the group.
I didn't see anyone on the road for the next hour and it started to rain, the roads were wet and I'm thinking "Can I really make it?"
Then I came across the back of the field and had some company, by the time we had french fries - I was back baby!
As one guy put it, he "broke the cask" of having to walk up hills on that Cass rise, so there should be no shame there - all in all, I probably walked at least a mile, but I knew there was a very large climb after 100 miles of riding, so saving something became important.
Another motivator was a guy I encountered on the Cypress Mt. climb (who let me use his pump, as my Zefal had turned my arms to rubber) - He said something about having unfinished business - So I'm thinking, I'll need to do this again if I don't finish!
All in all a great event, and something for everyone (I did see 3 or 4 Peugeots, including a lady on a UO-8 that was on the course probably an hour longer than me). Maybe next time I'll do a shorter route and enjoy the rest stops more.
Joe began training for Eroica last year, riding in BCI rides on most Saturdays, training rides on Fridays and Sundays, the Amtrak Century and some of the Bear training rides with OCW. He also had to prepare his 44 year-old bike, doing all the work himself, including rebuilding his wheels.
Congratulations Joe! Well done!