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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

l'Eroica - part 2 "we ride"





This event made us remember why we took up cycling in the first place! These folks express our philosophy of pedala forte, mangia bene in a special way. We drove up to Radda in Chianti on Sunday morning and unloaded our bicycles, donned our retro-CycleItalia jerseys (which you can order here) and headed up to see the cyclists pass through a control point and ristoro, as they say in Italian. These stops offer ribollita, the tasty vegetable soup, bruschette and a glass or two of Chianti to provide energy for the ride. NO engineered food in mylar wrappers here! Since we were not officially participating we did not partake in any of the delicious offerings here but we were inspired to get on our bikes and see more closely the event and the participants so off we went down from Radda. There were all shapes and sizes, both riders and bikes, with classic machines of the past in various conditions, along with their riders. Francesco Moser had a group there, all dressed in "team" kit, they blew past us rather quickly. Rumor has it Franco Bitossi and Italo Zilioli were there among others. Larry stopped to aid one unfortunate fellow with a flat tire - mechanical issues were prevalent, our guess is some of these old bikes don't get much of a shakedown before the big day and problems crop up. On the climbs we heard plenty of chains skipping and auto-shifting as the old-time shift levers failed to hold the gear position along with squealing brakes and the smell of burnt rubber brake blocks on the descents. Dressed in our retro jerseys and riding steel bicycles painted in the Italian tricolore, we fit right in, despite our automatic pedals, aero brake cables and bar-mounted shifters (all prohibited by the regulations) and were cheered by the crowds as much as any, especially as we (having ridden only a few kms and having low gears) managed to complete a tough climb on a rocky dirt surface where most walked. We took a detour on another dirt road back to Radda, leaving the official route, only to rejoin the parade once back on pavement. We returned to Radda and enjoyed a panino and bottle of Chianti in a tiny square surrounded by re-enactors of WWII along with the old-bike fans. We left convinced we want to scare up some bikes which meet the regulations and participate in a future event, especially as they're popping up all over Italia.

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