Mountain Bike - L'Eroica Influenced Ride

Posted: Sunday, 30 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

A few days ago I spotted this interesting post on the splendid RetroBike forum. Pete aka Longrider1, suggested a Sunday ride with this curious itinerary:
Like l'Eroica its very hilly, with lots of ups and downs, and some narrow roads. However its all on tarmac, but will be hilly and pretty, e.g. Ranmore Common, Leith Hill, Holmbury Hill, Whitedown, etc, on minor roads, some potholes/gravel to beware in places. Route is similar to the CTC Hilly 50km route. Pub lunch stop, maybe in Holmbury St Mary. Around 60km (Effingham to Effingham) but pace will be pace of slowest rider i.e. re-group at tops of climbs.
I have to confess I didn't know what L'Eroica was, I thought it was an opera, but I was wrong, Eroica is the name of Symphony No.3 by Beethoven. Of more relevance, it is a serious "Heroic" race across the hilly landscapes of Tuscany in the North of Italy, you can get a flavour of this event at the Brooks England Blog

I let Pete know I would be coming and managed to bring my mate Caspar along, who I know has a bit of a cycling fetish. This morning when we met, he admitted that he had been up the whole night getting the bike ready and had only managed to snatch a 40 minute nap.
His steed was to be a blue Motobecane 10 speed racer, all very original right down to the steel rims. It was an item he had rescued via Freegle and treated to a thorough clean, some new brake pads and a front tyre.
He thought that it would be a better bike for the hills, but as it turned out that was not to be the case and his trusty old Saracen mountain bike may have been a safer bet.

Like L'Eroica the route had its ups and downs

The weather was exceptionally mild for the time of year and at one point I was just wearing a polo shirt and its November next week. Five of us set off and made our way along some beautiful country roads, the trees all in shades of gold and brown. All too soon the hillier sections arrived and we settled in to a rhythm of steady climbs followed by some exhilarating descents. Poor Caspar found himself having to walk up some of the ascents, but stoically he carried on.
After a much needed lunch break, I suggested to Caspar we swap bikes, my Marin Stinson only has 7 gears but they are much more widely spaced, with a handy "winch gear" for the tough bits.
It took me a little while to get used to Motobecane's narrow drop handle bars, toe straps and gear levers on the front tube, but I felt much more at home after 10 minutes or so. Sadly the weather began to close in and set into a steady drizzle. This made the faster descents all the more exhilarating with the combination of steel rims, wet roads and skinny tyres.
Arriving back at our starting point some 6 hours after we had departed I felt that curious merging of time, where you could have been gone a lifetime or just 5 minutes.