Join us on a ride of historical proportions and take your chance to be part of one of the world’s greatest cycling events – L’Eroica (literally, ‘The Heroic’). Conceptualised in 1997, by the visionary Giancarlo Brocci, as a means of protecting Tuscany’s fabled ‘strade bianche’ (white gravel roads) from being paved, the ride can normally only be entered via a lottery system.
We have the good fortune of being able to acquire guaranteed entries as one of the official Eroica tour operators. We bypass the lottery system and therefore guarantee entry to all of our riders.
In the lead up to the main event we will give you the chance to acclimatise to the challenges posed by the strade bianche whilst also incorporating other elements such as a Chianti Classico wine tasting and exploratory rides in cycling pearls such as Val d’Orcia and the Chiantigiana. On the day itself you can choose how ‘Heroic’ you want to be with 4 ride options available – 48km, 75km, 135km or 209km.
In terms of your steed for the rides in the lead up to the event you can choose. Bring your own, rent a ‘normal’ bike from us or spend the whole tour on a ‘vintage’ bike (either your own or rented from us).
For the Eroica the rules are that you must ride on a pre-1987 steel frame bike with ‘rat trap’ pedals, down tube shifters, and exposed cables, wearing woollen jerseys, and fuelled by decadent Italian food and wine! Vintage bikes are available if you do not own one.
Join us on this cycling odyssey leading up to what is known as the ‘most handsome race in the world’.
Eroica Bike Tour Highlights
> Choose your distance for the Eroica – 209km/135km/75km or 46km – and guaranteed entry that normally requires entry by lottery
> Explore the ‘strade bianche’ of Tuscany in the lead up to the big event
> Visit the atmospheric city of Siena and take an aperativo overlooking the campo
> Sample the fine Chanti Classico wines at our friend’s winery in the heart of the Chianti area.
> Warm up rides in and around Chianti, Crete Senese and Val d’Orcia – truly world class cycling
> Personalised vintage woollen jersey and access to a wide range of pre-1987 hire bikes
Eroica Bike Tour Dates & Prices
|Tour||Start Date 2019||End Date 2019||Days||Cost (Euros)|
|Tuscany – Eroica Weekend||4th October||7th October||4 (3 nights)||€1395|
Eroica Bike Tour Food & Wine
Tuscan cuisine is characterised by its close association with the land. The unique language of the ancient Etruscans may have all but disappeared but their earthy cuisine lives on in Tuscany. Simplicity is the key to Tuscan cuisine that reflects the region’s peasant traditions and changing seasons. You’ll get plenty of chance to experience the essence of Tuscan gastronomy on the Eroica tour with the rest stops renowned for their novel approach to cycling nutrition. Where else on a cycling sportive would you be offered Ribollita, a hearty soup based primarily on stale bread, cabbage and cannelloni – Tuscan white beans – which is the essence of peasant fare? If you prefer something a little lighter you could always sample Panzanella – a unique a bread salad with tomato and basil. Our personal favourites on the ride though are the salami and bruschetta that are moreish in the extreme!
On the wine front again you won’t be disappointed when it comes to the Eroica rest stops – yes they serve wine! Home to many great wines, Tuscany is the great rival to Piedmont for the mantle of being Italy’s premier wine area. The Tuscans certainly believe that they are deserving of the honour and with Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the ‘Super Tuscans’ all produced in the region they clearly have a strong case. In the lead up to the Eroica event we will visit our friend’s vineyard in Montalcino for a Brunello wine tasting, as well as exploring the Chiantigiana where a lunch time tipple is almost obligatory.
Molinello pizza – photo taken by Marco Pullia
Eroica Bike Tour Accommodation
Borgo Casa al Vento
The stunning hamlet of Casa al Vento provides our abode for our Eroica weekend. Situated a couple of kilometres from the village of Gaiole in Chianti the ‘hotel’ has been beautifully renovated by the Giofredda family, and provides a wonderful base to experience the Eroica.
Immersed in the Tuscan countryside and aptly only reached by a ‘strada bianca’ the quaint houses of the hamlet are built from traditional stone that respects the architectural tradition of the territory.
Producers of a fine Chianti Classico we don’t have to travel far to embrace the finer elements of authentic Tuscan hospitality. Being situated a mere 2km from the start and finish of the Eroica it is also super convenient.
The spa that offers a bath in Sangiovese wine, their own extra virgin olive oil and a restaurant that is renowned across the region for its excellence, all serve to reinforce why we have chosen the Borgo Casa al Vento as our base for the Eroica weekend.
Written by Australian expat Isabelle Dusi, this book is slightly different from most of its genre in that the author had already been in Montalcino for a number of years before she wrote it. Slow in parts this book nonetheless provides a charming account of Tuscan village life.
Isabella Dusi, Vanilla Beans & Brodo
Written by tour guide Dario Castagno this book provides a humourous insight into some of the extreme situations he has found himself in. Heavy on anecdotes about tourists you hope you’ll never encounter, this book, whilst slightly shallow, is still a good read.
Dario Castagno, Too Much Tuscan Sun -Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide
Finding a book that focuses on Tuscany and the Romans is hard given the all encompassing nature of their empire. As an overview of Roman influence in Tuscany though the Blue Guide does a great job. Be warned it contains over 500 pages but as a definitive guide of the region it is hard to beat.
Alta Macadam, Blue Guide – Tuscany
Iris Origo’s book is a classic that is written in diary form. With an immediacy that only a diary can give, this chronicle of daily life during the Second World War is powerful in its simplicity. In light of the affluence of the area today this book presents an insight into an altogether less fortunate era.
Iris Origo, War in Val D’Orcia – An Italian War Diary 1943-44
Named after the Etruscans, one of its original inhabitants, Tuscany or Toscana in Italian corresponds closely geographically to ancient Etruria. The Etruscans, known mostly nowadays for their impressive tomb sites, withstood the inevitable Roman expansion for a century or two until succumbing in the mid 4th century B.C.
Roman rule lasted close to 8 centuries and besides a few minor hiccups (such as Hannibal!) the region flourished. Road networks throughout Tuscany facilitated transport and trade and settlements on the sites of modern Florence, Lucca, Arezzo, Pisa and Pistoia prospered.
After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century BC, and brief occupations by the Byzantines and Ostrogoths, Tuscany became a Lombard duchy (6th-8th cent. A.D.), with Lucca as its capital. Charlemagne destroyed the Lombard kingdom and the Frankish Empire ruled from the 8th to the 12th century. Castles, Monasteries and Abbeys were built, many surviving today, and many of the towns developed into communes independent of the Holy Roman Empire.
The rivalry between these communes in Trade and war was intense and after a period of Pisan dominance in the 11th to 13th centuries Florence became the foremost city in Tuscany. The relative peace that followed, initially ruled over by the Medici, was the catalyst for the prolific artistic style that identifies the area today and is known as the Renaissance period. This period marked great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe.
After the Medici, Tuscany was ruled by the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine. The Dukes of Lorraine modernized and developed the area but in 1861 Tuscany voted in favour of annexation to a united Italy. Florence was briefly, prior to Rome, capital of the kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1871.
Sunset on Siena – photo taken by Antonio Cinotti
A once in a lifetime experience. It was challenging, but fun, a great festival and full of nostalgia and atmosphere. James our guide on the day was incredible and the food and wine were superb along with Ride and Seek’s knowledge of all things Italian. My biggest worry was Anne-Maree as a non rider, in terms of what would she would do whilst I was riding. The way she was included in the group made the trip an unforgettable experience for us both. Thanks again Dylan to you and your colleagues, it was a special ride.
Dave – L’Erocia & Tuscany
I didn’t fully understand what I was in for, but the tour far surpassed my expectations. The rides leading up to the event, visiting Nostra Vita, the vintage bike preparations, the vintage shopping in Gaiole, our top-notch accommodation at Agriturismo Molinello, and the professionalism of the Ride and Seek crew, made this week one of my all-time favorites. I’ll be coming back next year!
Sarah R – L’Erocia & Tuscany
Tour at a Glance
Length: 4 days I 3 nights
Distance: different options
Dates: October 4th - 7th 2019aa
Length: 4 days I 3 nights