L'Eroica 2018 a Gaiole in Chianti

Jump back in time to live the charm of the thrilling vintage bike ride

07 October 2018

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On the gravel roads of Siena, in the Chianti area, near Val D'Orcia and Crete Senesi, one of the highlights of biking in Tuscany is back on October 7th: the Eroica, with departure from Gaiole in Chianti. It is a fascinating Italian cycling race which is completed using vintage bikes by ‘heroes’, dressed up in line with the vintage theme. It is like jumping back to the past, both for those who will do the pedalling and for those who simply decide to admire the picturesque view of cyclists riding by. The Eroica race in Gaiole animates the whole village not only with the buzz of the race but also with the collateral events such as photo and book exhibitions and, as expected, also with the 'heroic bikes'! Not forgetting the long trail of cars and motorcycles - these too are vintage – that are there to help the race and cyclists. A real jump back in time to return to real and clean cycling, embodied by the likes of Coppi and Bartali. Cycling isn’t 'scientific and aseptic' like it is today, but rather it comes with dust, mud and fatigue, and above all it is driven by an incredible lust for adventure. Just take a look at some Eroica Gaiole photos to realize that one of the added values of this race lies in the wonderful Tuscan landscape that unfolds along the dirt roads that make up the track of the Eroica.



The idea of the Eroica bike ride was conceived by Giancarlo Brocci in 1997, when he invited a small group of enthusiasts to go for a ride on dirt roads. He was motivated by the desire to return to a genuine type of cycling which could also safeguard and promote the beauty of the area from the viewpoint of the characteristic dirt roads that cross the wonderful Chianti area. In these lands you cycle through vineyards, followed by sunflower fields dotted by ancient castles, villages and rows of cypresses. The success of the event has grown exponentially, so much so that the famous ‘Strada Bianca race’ (Italian for dirt roads) has more than 7,000 members, and more than 15,000 people flock to Gaiole in Chianti on the first Sunday in October. For now, the trend seems to be promising even for the 22nd edition of the Eroica!



Without wanting to go too deep in detail we’d like to tell you some of the features that make the Hero of Gaiole so special. But if any of you readers are aspiring heroes, we advise you to take a look at the details on the event website. Let's start from the bicycle that must be a real heroic bike. The Eroica is a vintage bike ride, so you must ride a vintage bike or a vintage-inspired bike. To be more precise, you must exclusively use road racing bikes that were built up to the year 1987, both with and without a gearbox, in steel frame like the ones built at the end of the 1800s or at the beginning of the 1900s. The bikes for the Eroica in vintage ride style, however, can be produced more recently but must have similar characteristics to the Eroica bikes of the past. Naturally, you can’t ride such bikes if not with vintage cycling clothing! It would be a sacrilege to wear the latest technical clothing! Even the Eroica clothing must be adequate and follow precise characteristics, one of which stands out above all the others: no lycra! Participants must wear sweaters and shorts made of wool and every accessory from gloves, shoes, bottles to glasses must follow the theme of the Chianti vintage bike race. It’s a beautiful show to see them pass by! The Tuscany vintage bike race is not competitive and the various routes start French-style, that is, in dribs and drabs.



The itinerary crosses some of the most beautiful roads in the province of Siena: only cycling on dirt tracks can recreate the atmosphere of times gone by. Upon completing the Eroica Gaiole registration, which can be done conveniently online, you can also choose the route that best suits your athletic preparation! In short, what matters is your spirit, you don’t have to be a hero at all costs! One of the most beautiful things of this race is the atmosphere at the refreshment points: between one snack and another, the agonism definitely fades into the background! That having been said, here are the routes:

  • Promenade (46 km): it is the easiest way to enjoy the spirit of the Eroica Italian bike race and not only as spectators, but without exaggerating by engaging in too demanding performances. The route takes about three hours and is characterized by a difference in height of 691 meters.

  • Short route (75 km): It lasts about 4 hours and is considered the 'gateway to the Eroica, Italy'. It has a height gain of 1522 m but the Lamole restaurant at the end promises a lavish reward with the ‘ribollita’, typical cured meats and excellent wine.

  • Medium route (135 km): this is when things heat up and enter into the realm of heroic cycling, with an itinerary that takes 10-12 hours to complete, obviously with some breaks, but still the number of kilometres is high! Even the difference in height, and consequently the number of steep sections, is no joke: 2.300 meters.

  • Long route (209 km): this route takes at least 15 hours to complete, so the departure is before sunrise and the arrival in Chianti in Gaiole will be at around 22.00. It is very a charming spectacle to see cyclists arrive in the darkness of the night, especially when they pass by the Castle of Brolio. After 3,251 meters of altitude and 15 hours on the saddle, those who complete it are true heroes. Heroes with the kick and passion of times gone by!

The Eroica Gaiole 2018 route can be followed independently all year round, perhaps it is best to split it into several stages. It is indicated by special signposting and you can find it in Eroica maps. You can also buy the Road Book where you can place all the stamps you collect at authorized shops. Once you have them all you can also request the 'Hero' certificate! Apart from this, traveling along these itineraries is an incredibly fascinating way of experiencing Tuscany by bike: wonderful landscapes and excellent local products! Much better than doping! In these areas the fuel is cured meats, pecorino cheese and wine!

Keep yourselves free for October 7th and go to Gaiole for the Eroica 2018, the most fascinating bike route ever. Whether you are a cyclist or a mere spectator, Chianti during the harvest period will be simply magical: warm weather, pleasant temperatures and beautiful autumn colors. Explore it with our fantastic tours in Chianti... if you really cannot get off the saddle, there is one even by bike!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff