Vintage gear for old Italian roads
The Handsome, Throwback Magic of Italy’s L’Eroica Bike Race
In 2014 bike parlance, L’Eroica is the ultimate gravel grinder, a 38-204 kilometer ride along the strade bianche (“white roads”) of Tuscany, Italy, with ascents steep as 23 percent grade and sketchy, sandy downhills as a reward for the hard work. Unlike the Dirty Kanza, though, you won’t find riders toeing the line in Gaiole in Chianti with carbon bikes, electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes. At L’Eroica, advanced gear is forbidden and contemporary garb is discouraged: the rules dictate that all riders must use bikes made before 1987, of steel, with shift levers on the downtube, wheels no larger than 20mm and no clipless pedals. Without all the extras, it’s just you and the open road — plus a few old-timey extravagances for good measure. Here’s what one of our guys used.