Great write up ed, and thanks to yourself, monty dog(?) or whoever recommended Siena camping via the forum. It was nice to briefly meet under the sun of Siena, yip a pity we didn’t hook up earlier..
Thinking back, your 2010 account was one of the final pieces of research I read before committing to do the l@eroica
I had held out for the recommended few glasses of robust red at the last stop, however the last stop/check was a junction on a strade bianche road when the official stamped your card on top of his car roof with no refreshments…. Probably just as well as the last section of climbing before and after Radda just about finished me off
Here’s my post event thoughts and observations for anyone interested or considering a future crack at the Il’Eroica.
1. We arrived in Pisa on Saturday about lunchtime, a restriction due to one of my lot playing in a band the night before and there wasn’t much in the way of flight choice either. We all knew this was too late but still hoped for a miraculous quick journey to the campsite for a warm ride to Gaiole but common sense prevailed and we ended up driving straight there.
Gaiole on Saturday is to be savoured and (unfortunately for us) not rushed..
So get to Italy on Friday, and have a warm up ride to register on Saturday and observe and enjoy the Battaglins, De Rosas, Pinarellos, Olmos, Coiccs, Rossins, Leganos, Wiliers, scores of Alans, plethora of Colnagos, an embarrassing abundance of Bianchi lying about. Then there’s the stalls whoooa (bring your savings), like minded retro riders from around the world and good food to enjpy.
2. Bike preparation - my preparation wasn’t much better, I’d started building my old yates several months in advance and finished only a couple of weeks before, managing to get a couple of hundred of miles (bonking on one run) . The bike had been fine, however upon rebuilding in Siena and taking a pedal around the campsite (to see if I could spot any retrobikers) on Friday evening my bars tilted forward. I hadn’t loosened the clamp for the flight, so panic set in when upon inspection the threads had given in on the bar clamp. Luckily we headed back to Gaiole to find some stalls open at 9pm and help at hand.. many thanks to these guys as this would have almost certainly been a ride wrecker at any other event
Make sure your friends have prepared, our first hours involved stops to adjust brakes, a rear mech and then to tension up the friction shifters (on two bikes).
3. Get some sleep, we were up at 4am Saturday for flight, and 4am on Sunday to get to the start. The start for the 205Km is between 5am & 7am (we set off at 6.15am)
4. Bike set up
Gears - I found 42 x 28 to be adequate gear wise
Rubber - 25mm tyres were ok, but reckon I’d put a cyclocross rear tyre on next time for traction on the steeper strade bianche sections.
Lights – I’d taken a powerfully cree/xml light which serves me well when night riding on my mtb. This is fastened to the bars with big o ring thingy, this is fine on my local trails in the dark of night however the rough bianche descents caused this to bump/vibrate so it was pointing at my feet by the bottom of any hill.
5. Time – it takes as long as it takes. The bianche is rough, some sections are fine, some are rutted with water erosion, some covered in loose gravel etc all in it’s much heavier slower going than your average Sunday run. We decided to stick together, waiting after climbs at feed stations etc, and with mechanicals (one bike gave in, are the body of the freewheel broke). All in all with planned stops, interruptions, heavy roads and a difficult (never flat) parcours, it took us twice as long to complete as a 100 miler back home.
Hitting a strade bianche in the dark is eventful, within a couple of hundred meters on the first stretch you hit a decent. Not long after one of my mates said he’d rather climb on the strade bianche roads than descend which is fair comment.
For us all in all it was a great event, for two of us, our first event overseas. We’d all go back, I’d like to do the 205Km again then retire it and just go and enjoy the 135Km on a near annual basis.
It’s a beautiful place, where you could easily include the l’eroica during a holiday, Siena was lovely for some rest and recreation on the Monday.
My two mates we’re new to retro rides, both loved it and we agreed to the retro ronde over dinner after finishing. (Unfortunately this is not on the same weekend as the ronde in 2014, so has been put on the back burner until 2015).
Birra Moretti is legendary, Peroni is sh*t
Yip – whole heartily agree
The L’Eroica wine they give you at the end is good for cleaning your chain, not so good for drinking…
Glad to hear it after not getting mine due to a jersey fabric non-conformance.. ball0cks!
Although we tasted plenty of the local grape juice on the Monday.
(btw - bring your own whisky, Italian bars don’t have much of a selection..)
Can’t wait to go back