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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Giancarlo and all the good people of L’Eroica should be honored. In the home of Fausto Coppi comes La Mitica. While I have every intention of riding another L’Eroica, I’m eager to ride this and the Retro Ronde. It’s not a slavish interest in the minutiae of vintage bicycles; it’s the culture that surrounds the period when bike racing was not dominated by expensive sponsorships, radio communication with the team, armadas of support vehicles. Don’t get me wrong. I’d jump at the chance to spend some time as a spectator at Grand Tour events. And, I watch plenty of TV coverage of the pro circuit, attend local events and read as much as I can.

But, there is something that inspires me about participating in events like this. You feel somehow more connected to the origins of the sport and to a time and place that seems original. I fight the cynic in me that says these events are produced as a way to build tourism interest, especially among people “of a certain age” who have the means to travel and harbor nostalgia for a period they probably never lived through. No matter.

It can only be a matter of time before an event like L’Eroica or La Mitica is held here in Oregon. For that, I cannot wait.

(Thanks to Rory Mason and his blog, Masini’s Breaking Away blog, for alerting me. Links to that blog, please visit it, on the home page here.)

A vintage ride in the land of Coppi

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The reality of the L’Eroica experience far exceeded the dream. To start there was Lecchi in Chianti, a village that one can only imagine being part of a dream. Hospitable, ideally positioned and filled with friendly residents and visitors alike.

Having my family there was a great treat and I can only hope that the favor was returned. Most nights, we came together for the evening meal and the laughter and boisterous conversation was non-stop.

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Then, there was Joao and his troop of former pro cycling colleagues and clients, living their own dreams on the roads of Chianti. An article in Bicycling magazine describes Joao’s approach to hosting cycling enthusiasts as the best ride on earth and it’s easy to see why.

Nothing matched the ride, not even the “favor” I did of delivering the commemorative Brooks B-17 saddle to ride director Giancarlo Brocci.

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I plan to write a bit more, both here and for Brooks England for their blog. Stay tuned.

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Mia famiglia greeted me on the ride into C. Beredenga.

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Enjoying the break after 85k, some of it punishing.

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First rest and refuel stop. The climb to Castello Brolio lit by candles.

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If you plan to ride L’Eroica, this is part of the training.

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For a slightly different take on the ride, take a look at Brooks England video from 2009. Among my obsessions, the traditional leather saddle is high on the list. So much so that I initiated a Facebook group page two years ago with content about the iconic leather saddle. Naturally, I ride one and have had a great time exploring the various connections between the saddle and bike culture. It’s a natural that Brooks would be a L’Eroica sponsor.

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