L’Eroica Britannia – Report and Review 2014
Superb … what a great event. The festival vibe, the people, the vendors, the entertainment, the staff, the bikes and of course the ride were all excellent. The whole package was well thought through and executed. As an inaugural event this was a huge success and I am sure the event will be much bigger next year. The icing on the cake (or is that Bakewell Pudding) was the fantastic weather …
We arrived at about 2pm Friday and were guided to our parking spot for the camper; the marshall was packing us in quite tight which required some quick negotiation with our festival neighbours as awinings needed to be put up and this worked out fine and we quickly established that the neighbours were nice people …
After setting up the van we headed off to registration; before we got there some guy in all the gear cruised up to us, introduced himself to us as one of the organisers and gave us a full run down of the set up … very helpful nice guy.
We then got to rider registration which was in a large marquee which was all decked out with a great bar, DJ, merchandising area and leather sofas and benches.
The lady at registration was really helpful and gave a full briefing of what was going on and then handed over a substantial goody bag (shown right).
Note the bag also contained a Bakewell Pudding (not tart) that was consumed before this photo was taken.
We then spent the rest of the day looking round the festival stores and enjoying the entertainment on main stage and had a hog roast for dinner.
The photo below shows one of the bars … the set up was full of nice touches like this.
On Saturday we got up and thought we’d make the short walk into Bakewell.
The town is really nice and was teaming with riders and the town had quite clearly embraced the event and the festival and the whole place was buzzing.
There was something happening all the time; many riders choosing to do last minute fettling and many going for a ride.
We chose to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
In the afternoon was a best in show competition.
Some people had clearly made a huge effort with their outfits.
For me the event had two focuses the bike and the ride; but for others it was the style, the look, the vibe or the social … there was a real mix of people.
There were the following categories:
Best in Show Rider – Gent
Best in Show Rider – Lady
Best in Show Festival Go-er Gent
Best in Show Festival Go-er Lady
Best in Show Festival Family
Best in Show:Best Dressed Miss
Best in Show: Best Dressed Master
Best in Show: Best Beard/Moustache
Best in Show BIKE
The guys on the right were up in a number of categories and I am sure you will agree they deserved their awards of which they won a few.
There were a good number of people who had had a very good bash at the vintage dress scene and they really did look the part and add to the atmosphere of the event.
I was vain / sad enough to think of entering my fine bike in the BIKE category but I had misunderstood the entry process.
It said in the programme turn up at the main stage at 2pm with your bike; which is what I did … but it turned out that you needed to first receive a nomination.
To get nominated you needed to be stickered by some mystery judge who had seen you pushing your bike round the grounds in the morning … he never saw mine in the back of the van 🙁
Anyway, no big deal. The top 3 were, in reverse order a 70s Bianchi which has had a full show room restoration done and was very nice. 2nd was a Hetchins which I didn’t get to see and the winner was a nice 70s Cinelli shown below …
Of course I thought my bike was better but I would wouldn’t I …
As a side note most of the bikes there were pretty ordinary, well used, steel racers. Raleighs and Peugeots were the most numerous. Good to see a good number of Moultons around and some real old clunkers. Italian “superbikes” were in the minority.
Whilst walking about I did spot a 50th Group on the Rourke on the Parlee Cycles stand owned by Chris from Parlee Cycles. Whilst we were chatting another guy turned up with a Colnago with 50th group … so 3 in one photo. This does not happen every day …
Spent the rest of the day enjoying the entertainment; food stalls and bars. The festival ale which had been specially brewed and bottled was great.
The 100 Mile Ride (Ride time 7:01; elapsed time 7:43 Route Data Here >>>>)
I decided to start early; the option for the 100 milers was 6 – 7:30 … I started at about 6:10 for two reasons; first because I wasn’t sure about how the bike would cope with the route terrain and I was worried about mechanicals and secondly there was a Spitfire flypast scheduled for 3pm which I wanted to see / hear.
At this point it is worth a note about bike preparation; this was a rough route … so I fitted 27mm tyres. This was a good move and some of the gravel descents looked a bit sketchey for some … more on that later.
On the whole I don’t think any specific bike prep was needed but a well maintained bike was needed and a good selection of tools and spares were in my saddle pack, I was glad to get round with no problems. I have not cleaned the bike yet and I expect to find a number of stone chips; this route did give the bike a bit of a hammering.
The ride was soon on to trails and below are a few shots … in an out of tunnels which was quite cool on a reasonable surface.
First stop was Tideswell after 10 miles; a group of about 10 arrived and I think we caught them out a bit as they were not quite ready.
The bacon was on the go but as I hadn’t long eaten my breakfast I topped up the bottle, put an oak flapjack in my pocket and got my route card stamped and headed off.
After about 20 miles we hit Mam Nick. This is a stiff 2.1km climb with gradients of up to 16%.
It was tough and riding a 42×24 gear was pretty much a max effort to keep the pedals turning. I am certain this hill would have reduced many to walking later in the day.
Note that only the 100 mile entries went up this so you got what you asked for!!!
The climb up Man Nick was in great sunshine but as I crested the top and started heading into the next valley it was clear the sun had yet to burn off the fog and the decent was a bit dodgy as perhaps lights would have been useful.
It was a great decent though …
The route then took us alongside a really still lake and uphill and down dale.
I met the two Italian guys shown below on the road just before the Mam Nick climb … conversation was limited by the language barrier. We did converse enough for me to establish that his bike was made in 1919 … and for me to tell him that he needed more gears for the Peak District … I have no idea if he made it without walking but if he did he is the legend he looks.
The route then progressed on through the Rapha food stop at 35 miles and to the Hartington food stop at 50 miles. By Hartington the 100 mile route and the 50 mile route had converged and the roads were now quite busy with bikes and riders of all shapes and sizes.
There was a great atmosphere at this stop with loads of people around and it looked like all the locals had turned out to be part of the event.
The food was great and plenty of it and no bundle to get to it … all very good.
After Hartington it was on to Tissinton where the 50 & 100 mile routes spilt again and I was again riding solo.
Next stop was Ilam which was a fantastic manor house and it was a shame that the 50 route missed this …
When I arrived (alone) I was informed by the team on the food stop I was the 3rd rider to appear. You can just see a guy in a Panasonic kit in the background of this image.
She said that she was expecting 650 riders so that was a good number of the 2000 riders who had opted for the long route.
Then it was a few more solo miles before the 100 mile route linked up again with the 50 at Carsinton.
Back on the main route there were many more riders to chat with; this guy looked great but was Italian with no English so our conversation was sadly short.
After Chatsworth it was just 4 miles to go … but with less than 2 miles to go I must have missed a left turn and ended adding another 2-3 miles to my route as I entered the show ground from the wrong entrance; I was not alone on this additional detour. It must be said that the signage was pretty good but the signs were brown which was very tasteful but easy to miss and perhaps a dayglo colour would have been better (not very vintage I know) but anyway it was a small issue.
Having entered the show ground by the wrong entrance I missed the name check on the PA but was greeted by a very jolly Italian guy who stamped my card; it must have been the first “full house” (indicating a 100 mile rider) he’d seen; and he started getting very animated and whipped the crowd up into a bit of a cheer which was nice 🙂
Below shows me finishing and the knackered look photos …
After the ride we were given tokens for a free beer and meal bag … again all very good.
Here is the route card is in the below grid …
The terrain and descents.
For those who are asking the route was quite technical in places (which was good) with some rough surfaces and descents. I was glad I had fitted 27mm tyres and had spent a good bit of time on a mountain bike. For those who had only ridden on tarmac I would expect some of the sections were a bit of a shock.
I observed lots of people being overcautious on gravelly descents; I found it better to let the bike run rather than being on the brakes heavily and crawling down. Some even resorted to walking down steep sections which looked worse than riding to me; but each to their own.
Below is a sample of the surfaces; the worst ones are not shown as I didn’t want to take my hands off the bars to take a photo.
I think the varied terrain was great and I cycled some paths I would have never taken left to my own choices; that made the event a great challenge.
In summary I though the event was fantastic; I spoke to loads of people who all said the same.
Some things could have been better; the toilets and showers were a bit grim, signage / marshals could have been better but these are small points on a huge inaugural event.
I think next year will be much bigger and will sell out as all those who came will be bringing more friends back with them next year.
My congratulations go to the organising team and all who worked on the event.