We said when we checked out l'Eroica in Tuscany a few years ago, these bici d'epoca (pre 1987 bikes, downtube shifters, exposed brake cables and clip & strap pedals, plus you're encouraged to wear period-correct clothing and no helmets are required) create an atmosphere that reminds why we took up this wonderful sport all those years ago!
La Campionissima in Piedmont near Ovada, didn't let us down. A small event, unlike the thousands who show up these days at l'Eroica (if they're lucky enough to get an entry via lottery if you're a man under 60..and YES, Larry did luck out and will be there in October of this year) this was a wonderful first-time for us. Above you can see the small number of participants, probably around 100 by a rough estimate. All shapes and sizes, though most of the bikes are form the later decades, though their riders are not!
In Piedmont the winters are wet so most roads are paved, but the organizers did their best to come up with some strada sterrata for us. Skill, or lack thereof, becomes very visible on these sections. Things were slow enough here that we stopped to take photos.
We opted for the 52 kilometer loop which included a short out-and-back to the famous Caffe Trieste, a place that's been on the Milano-Sanremo route forever it seems. Snacks were provided there and also around the halfway point as you can see above. This unpaved detour also provided some secluded woods in case one needed to pee.
They routed us over this ancient bridge, which required a SHARP turn in a screaming descent - meaning Larry missed it and had to backtrack a bit, but Heather waited to get this nice photo. This course was challenging, especially for those with old-time brakes and hard, oxidized brake blocks, you could hear the squeals and smell the burning rubber!
Rubber of another kind, being repaired. Heather blasted into this unpaved section full of sharp rocks and promptly pinch-flatted, though it did make for a nice photo that evokes earlier days in cycling history. It's probably better that ol'Larry didn't look up for the photo as he was growling as he worked to repair Heather's flat!
It was pretty much all downhill and with a tailwind from there (total contrast to the gusty winds we fought on the steep climbs out of Ovada, you can see those in this video CLIP) and we made it back to Molare with plenty of time to spare. There's one of these events going on pretty much every weekend somewhere in Italy and there's even a Giro d'Italia di Epoca series now. We're already looking forward to our next one. More about that, and photos of some gorgeous bikes and famous celebrities in the next post.