Wool, Steel, And Grit: L’Eroica Vintage Race Coming To U.S.

A popular vintage-era bike ride is coming to America, and it’s time for cyclists with dust in their teeth to smile.

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Gravel roads, steel frames, wool clothes, true grit…

These are words that have inspired a reverent group of historical bike purists to swing a leg over a lugged frame to ride Italy’s infamous L’Eroica.

Cyclists have been celebrating the bygone era of bikes in the Tuscan hills since 1997; when the event started with just under 100 riders. Now, with over 5000 riders each year, the Italian ride has become so wildly successful, it’s spun off a series of sister rides around the world, including Eroica California.

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The April race will be the second running of Eroica California. Held in Paso Robles, it’s about the closest thing to Tuscany one might find in the States.

The event offers four distances, ranging from 38 to 120 miles, each with variable lengths of the requisite gravel road.

Registration for the April 8-10th event closes March 31. The cost is $175 through March 15, after which it will rise to $200.

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Wanna ride the L’Eroica? Gotta look the part. Riders are required to ride vintage era bikes and dress in period-appropriate cycling clothing, including wool jerseys and shorts.

L'Eroica Bike Requirements

  • Frame: Pre-1987 road bike, or modern vintage bike mounted with components as detailed below
  • Gears: Original shifters, mounted on down-tube shift levers
  • Pedals: Toe clips or straps (or original pedals)
  • Brakes Cables: Must pass outside and over the handlebars (no rules on brake types, as long as they comply with era of bike)
  • Wheels: 32 spokes
  • Rims: 20mm or less; aluminum, steel, or wood!
  • Tubes: Tubular tires and clinchers with inner tubes
  • Saddle: 1987 or older, or modern vintage replicas

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L'Eroica Clothing Requirements

  • Vintage era kit is recommended
  • Tech kit may be worn as a base layer, as long as it is covered by vintage apparel
  • Leather shoes are recommended
  • Traditional cycling caps
  • Aluminum bottles
  • Exception? You bet – wear a helmet!

For more information, check out the 5-minute video below highlighting last year’s Eroica California.

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Contributing Editor (and Gear Junkie Idaho Bureau Chief) Steve Graepel is allegedly a crook and a thief, conning his friends to steal away time from their families in pursuit of premeditated leisure, which typically involves a bike, a pack-raft, skis, running shoes, climbing rack, or all of the above.

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