Most people interested in cycling have heard of L’Eroica a cycling event in Tuscany for vintage bikes (and Guvnors), it is however a very long way away and the Guvnor is a little over sized to be stuffed into an aeroplane’s hold.
Last year a whisper was heard at Assembly Towers that the event was coming to Derbyshire, home to some of the best cycling in the country, whilst we hoped the event would be good it is fair to say none of us had an inkling of the cycling extravaganza the organisers had in store for us all.
After a little organisation on the the forum, a few missives dispatched in preparation for the weekend and camp Guvnors’ Assembly was struck by Mr Fossil claiming the corner of a field that will be forever GA. Through the day the team assembled, drawn like moths to the Thornbridge beer tent for a pint of “Handsome” the festival’s beer of choice, especially brewed for it’s restorative properties after a ride.
Saturday morning walking around the the festival village the penny dropped this was something a little bit special, more lovely bikes than you can shake a pump at with top tubes that “tink” when flicked, accessories galore, bike manufacturers displaying their wares, enough to keep any fellow happy. It may have escaped your attention but not everyone is interested in 531, these unusual characters were also catered for with a Vintage Village keeping the beautiful ladies and dapper gents happy.
In addition to the shopping, a full day and evening of entertainment was put on to keep us quiet. Special mention must go to Mrs Adam for keeping the GA end up and winning “Best in Show Festival Go-er Lady” in show. A bite to eat a few quiet pints and an early night in preparation for the ride ahead.
Sunday morning and Bakewell, a town that had already embraced the event was transformed with thousands of riders assembling for the off. After a team talk the previous day consensus was the majority of the GA would ride the 55 miler with a splinter group on the 30. At 7.30 am prompt the Team started to assemble ready for a heroes send off a quick interview and John Bull packed is on our way.
As mentioned at the beginning of the words the Peak District has some of the finest riding available and this was something the organisers utilised to the maximum, combining converted train lines, White Peak Strada Bianca with ascents just on the right side of hard with descents that had us grinning from ear to ear.
Food stops were also a joy, not an energy bar in sight, home made sandwiches, cakes and biscuits washed down with local Hartington Beer or at Chatsworth Manor House Pimms and sparkling English wine.
A fellow would not be far wrong thinking it cannot possibly get much better than this, at that time we had not finished the event. Dropping into the event village we were guided around the back before rounding a corner in between two red telephone boxes and riding in formation up the finish straight, a combination of cheers, the PA and sheer achievement may possibly have left one or two of the GA a little emotional.
L’Eroica Britannia is a truly special event, meeting and reacquainting with friends from the GA is always special, we also were able to finally put faces to a lot of names but a special thank you must go to the organisers of the event for their warm welcome, fantastic organisation, superb good humour and for having us as guests.
Chapeau to all concerned with the organisation and the running of the event.