It would be Godfather-like disrespectful to refer to Eroica California as a gran fondo; it’s so much more than the ride on Sunday. The weekend is full of activities that help participants and their families soak up the atmosphere of vintage cycling. Invited on behalf of Road Bike Action, my experience began on Friday night where VIPs, dignitaries, and sponsors gathered at Allegretto Vineyards Resort for food, wine and the official ceremony uniting Paso Robles and Cenicero, Spain as sister cities. The mayors of each town were present as well as the mayor of Gaiole in Chianti, Italy, Paso Robles’ original sister city. Reception attendees, including Andy Hampsten, were fortunate to hear from three different Eroica organizers and hear about the passion that drives the events and unites people from around the world.
Saturday began at Paso Robles’ Downtown City Park where the Concours d’Elegance was the center of attention. After taking a walk around the incredible array of vintage bicycles that would be judged on authenticity (stunners from Bianchi, Colnago, Brian Baylis, and Masi; even a 1947 Maury tandem with a motor assist), I headed to the Park Cinema for a screening of the film Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame. Settling in with some popcorn, the movie rolled and I found myself drawn deeply into the story of renowned frame builder, Giuseppe Marinoni, and his quest to break the hour record for 75-79 year old men. The beauty of this man’s life journey and the people we get to know through it’s telling brought tears to my eyes. When the lights came up on the nearly packed theater (there were people seated on the stairs), the audience was given the chance to chat with film director Tony Girardin. I was glued to my chair from start to finish and realized it was a movie that anyone, cyclist or not, would appreciate.
Festivities continued throughout the day: mingling among the very young and old, the novice cycling fan to vintage aficionado; nosing through the offerings at the swap meet as a band played in the park’s gazebo; and perusing the cycling art exhibition featuring guest artist Miguel Soro Garcia. As the evening approached, I met some of the women who would be riding Eroica for a Women’s happy hour. As we sipped on wine and shared stories, I found myself wishing more of us knew about Eroica because of its convivial and encouraging atmosphere. Dinner, held in the center of the park, was the final engagement of the day. Bulbs were strung from the tent ceiling casting light on our Tuscan meal that was prepared under the guidance of Michelin star chef Vincenzo Guarino. To close the evening, cycling memorabilia including a Bianchi Eroica frameset, was auctioned off to benefit Hospice of SLO County. With bellies full, our happy crew retired to our house to double check our own steeds for the early morning departure.
By: Janel Holcomb
More Info: www.eroica.cc