L’Eroica 2013: A photo journal of Road Cycling’s favorite Tuscan race

As far as European road cycling events go, L’Eroica has always been at the top of the Stylesight bucket list. Its stringent rules (only pre-1987 frames with top-tube shifters), picturesque location (Tuscany), and restricted number of available entries make it a highly coveted ticket for those eager to put in some miles in the zig-zagg-y hills of Chianti.

The course begins in the charming Italian village of Gaiole-in-Chianti (pictured above and below), right smack in the middle of one of Italy’s most significant wine-producing regions.  Of course, once you’ve done L’Eroica, [Chianti] word-association tends to elbow out that first impression and conjure instead skinny tires on terrifying gravel-y roads, rather than college-era hangovers. Despite the torrential downpours that befell the region the day prior, the clouds miraculously parted the morning of L’Eroica 2013 and cyclists enjoyed an inspired ride through the tough terrain along the offered routes of 35 or 75 kilometres, and 135 or 205 for the true masochists cycling enthusiasts.

Awaiting takeoff. Participants can begin their chosen ride whenever they wish, starting from 4am for the 135-205 kilometer races.

L’Eroica represents a true mélange of ages and nationalities, and seems to encourage a healthy sense of camaraderie and competition. Recreational cycling teams often get custom matching kits made just for the event.  Shaved legs seem to be optional, however. 

& while it all gets started on asphalt….

…much of it takes place on Chianti’s infamous “strade bianche,” or “white roads,” strewn with gravel.  Not the easiest to navigate with skinny tires, but the trepidation subsides a bit as the terrain becomes more familiar throughout the day. Fortunately this year the sun dried the mud from the day prior, making the 12%+ grade descents a touch more merciful.

Left, a local Italian charges up the hill; right, a member of the Brooks team smiles for the camera. 

Socks make the look. Duh.

L’Eroica is a true mecca for vintage cycling jerseys and a rich source of inspiration.  The sheer volume of retro typeface staring back at you from every angle is enough to send one’s head spinning.  Rare color combinations abound, too.

…Two gorgeous vintage jerseys are always better than one.

The ultimate L’Eroica outfit: 100% anachronistic, with an expertly-restored early 1920s bike to go with.

Quirky caps on handsome folks. Authentic vintage accessories make the look.

Drool-worthy vintage head badges and restored frame embellishments are what make L’Eroica bicycles a true source of pride for their owners. Vintage parts like rare Campagnolo shifters inspire bouts of giddyness amongst L’Eroica bike geeks  attendees.

& yes, it really is that beautiful.  Until next year…

-Kelly Miller

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