ON THE ROAD: EROICA
Eroica 2017… There’s something happening here.
One week on and we’ve finally just about recovered from a wonderful weekend at Eroica Britannia. Glorious weather, idyllic scenery and one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at an event made it a really perfect festival.
By far the most enjoyable aspect was meeting some many lovely people, most of whom were dressed up to the nines in vintage gear, from goggle-clad Edwardians on clunkers, through Coppi-era italophiles resplendent in celeste wool atop gleaming Bianchis, to immaculate land-girls on step through frames, with a series smattering of Lemonds, Hinaults and Roches too. A delight to behold, and quite frankly I simply had no idea that there were so many beautifully restored bike still in existence.
The Eroica phenomenon has been well documented, and taps brilliantly into a deep and nostalgic cycling romance, a time when the achievements seemed huger, the racing purer. A simpler time. And, of course, it helps that the bikes and clothing of the era(s) look great too.
But there’s something happening here, something big. The vintage movement stretches far beyond cycling, and certainly there was a proportion of the audience there who were there as much for the dressing up, the great food, and the musical entertainment - its a great family event. I’ve been told the event had around 12,000 attendees on the Saturday (the rides themselves take place on the Sunday). That is a huge amount for any cycling event, and a lot for any new(ish) festival full stop.
Eroica has achieved the neat trick of taking what could be a very blokey niche of quite a blokey sport and made it charming, accessible and wonderful to behold. Whole families riding tandems, small children in full vintage gear riding the 25-miler, support and encouragement for all. The polar opposite of the solitary middle-aged-man-in-lycra, lost in his power data. Who knew a bit of wool and some unreliable, fragile, beautiful old bikes could be such a leveller? Long may it reign.
Finally, our Eroica in a few words.
Dogs. Surely a record number of cute dogs for any gathering, bar Crufts. And some of the dogs were just as well dressed as the riders.
Caps. The nascent #CapsNotHats movement should draw strength. Anyone who was anyone at Eroica was sporting a vintage cassette, with plenty of luft on show. I’ve not seen so many in one place since the glory days if Acid House. And you know what - they looked great.
ABC. Ok, there’s only a few real hits, but what songs they are. And props to the Fry family for riding on the Sunday, too.
Meat. Festival catering is awesome, of course, but I now need to take a quick holiday from the meat, meat, glorious meat.
Compere - Matt Jones, take a bow. Thirteen hours of non-stop, personal, funny and uplifting commentary, calling the first riders out to the last riders home. Chapeau.
See you next year, we’ll be back with (vintage) bells on!