The third edition of Eroica California is set to take place April 8-9 in Paso Robles, the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country. The vintage bike cycling event draws its roots from the Italian L’Eroica, or “The Heroic”, event held annually since 1997 in the Tuscan town of Gaiole in Chianti, which is also the “sister city” of Paso Robles.
Eroica California is a different type of cycling event than nearly everything else in the United States. Eroica embraces the simplicity of equipment from yesteryear, or at least equipment styled from an era before steel frames, down tube shifters and toe clips all but disappeared. A mix of riders can be found at Eroica, ranging from the true vintage aficionado to those that lined up a bike just for the event in order to experience a piece of cycling’s past.
For most of the attending riders, much of the enjoyment comes from procuring the equipment they will use for the ride. Whether that’s pulling your 1984 Bianchi Specialissima out of the rafters, borrowing a friend’s first race bike, or finding something that fits the budget at a garage sale, it’s all part of the experience. Last year, Andy Hampsten showed up on his Giro d’Italia-winning Huffy, and he will be back again this year.
A full weekend of events surrounds Eroica California, including the prestigious Concours d’Elegance on Saturday the 8th, where participants can enter their own vintage road bikes for a chance to win “Best of Show”, or just enjoy the dozens of one-of-a-kind works of art that range from the early 1900s up to the more “modern” 1980s era.
In the historic Paso Robles Downtown Park, the festival features booths from local businesses and artisans, as well as a cycling fair with vendors of bikes and parts from all eras. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned vintage aficionado, or looking for your first wool jersey, the festival offers something for everyone. Saturday will also include a screening of the film Marinoni: The Fire In The Frame that chronicles the life of champion cyclist and frame builder Giuseppe Marinoni. The day concludes with the option to attend a dinner prepared with the help of a Michelin-starred chef from Tuscany, during which a benefit auction will be held where all proceeds go to Hospice of SLO County.
Sunday the 9th is the weekend’s high point, where many of the riders will come dressed for the era, complete with wool jerseys, lace-up shoes, and hairnet helmets before departing on one of four routes, ranging from 40 miles all the way up to the “Heroic” 127-miler. Regardless of the route chosen, each one features some of the best roads in the region, passing through vineyards on rolling country terrain dotted with California Oaks.
All routes have a taste of tradition, with scenic sections of gravel roads and rest stops located at farms and vineyards offering gourmet food for a truly unique experience. The two longer options will take riders over the coastal mountain range and down to the picturesque towns of Cambria and Cayucos along the Pacific Ocean before ultimately finishing back in Paso Robles where an Italian lunch will be served.
Eroica California has partnered with Allegretto Vineyard Resort to continue the European-themed weekend. Participants will receive a discounted room rate and can enjoy hotel amenities such as the Willow Creek Wine Tasting Room and the Northern-Italian cuisine from Cello Ristorante & Bar. Allegretto will also be hosting the press conference in their ballroom Friday evening.
Registration is currently open at www.eroicacalifornia.com. A portion of every entry will go to benefiting Hospice of San Luis Obispo County.
Eroica California partners include: Santini, Bianchi, Giro, Barone Ricasoli, Continental, Brooks, Pantofola d’Oro, Mavic, Steel Vintage Bikes, Elite, Toscana Promozione Turistica, Travel Paso Robles, City of El Paso De Robles, Allegretto Vineyard Resort, Cayucos, Cambria, Paso Robles Wine Country, Cass Vineyard & Winery, Halter Ranch Vineyard, Olea Farm, San Luis Obispo