L’Eroica is an annual cycling event in the beautiful Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. This unique event is a celebration of vintage cycling, and it attracts cyclists from all over the world who come to ride the picturesque roads of Tuscany on their vintage bicycles. The history of L’Eroica dates back to 1997 when a group of cycling enthusiasts decided to organize a non-competitive event to promote the cultural and environmental heritage of the Chianti region. The event was an instant success; over the years, it has become one of the world’s most popular vintage cycling events. Strambecco rates the event as one of the Best Gravel Fondo’s in Italy.
The event is held each Fall, usually in October, and it offers riders the opportunity to ride on some of Tuscany’s most scenic and challenging roads. The route is a 205 km loop that starts and finishes in the town of Gaiole in Chianti, and it takes riders through vineyards, olive groves, and medieval villages, with plenty of hills and gravel roads to test their skills and endurance.
What makes L’Eroica so popular is its unique spirit and atmosphere. Unlike many modern cycling events, L’Eroica is not a race, with no prizes or rankings. Instead, it’s a celebration of vintage cycling and the culture of Tuscany, and participants are encouraged to ride their vintage bicycles and wear vintage clothing. The event is also known for its strict rules, which require participants to ride bicycles made before 1987, with down-tube shifters and without clipless pedals. The event organizers also limit the number of participants to maintain the intimate and authentic atmosphere of the event.
L’Eroica is not just a cycling event per se; it’s also a cultural and gastronomic experience. Along the route, riders can stop at the numerous rest stops, where they can taste local wines, cheeses, and other Tuscan specialties. The event culminates in a festival in Gaiole in Chianti, where riders and spectators can enjoy live music, local food, and wine.
In recent years, L’Eroica has inspired the creation of similar events worldwide, from California to Japan. However, the original event in Tuscany remains the most popular and prestigious, attracting thousands of participants each year.