Cycling 900km from Geneva to Venice is a pretty serious challenge, but how about throwing in 21,000m of climbing and a retro single-speed bike?
Amateur racer Mike Gluckman took on the Haute Route Dolomites at the beginning of September on a Bianchi L’Eroica with just a single gear to get him over the mountain passes on the seven-day cyclo-sportive.
And it’s not as if Gluckman settled for a granny gear to help him up climbs like the Passo di Stelvio and the San Gottardo – the Londoner rode the entire 900km on a 48×23 gear.
“There were certainly moments where I thought it was all a little too ambitious” Gluckman said. “Day three especially where the compound fatigue of the first two days had slowed my pace right down. My quads were convulsing and cramping badly throughout the day – not a nice feeling.
“My cadence for the day often averaged out at a pretty regular 80 – 90rpm but of course that was the average of say 30 on the climbs and about 140 on the flats trying to keep up with packs.”
Gluckman loaned the modern-replica bike from Bianchi, who are beginning to reproduce their 1980s classic in partnership with the Eroica movement.
“I’m in awe of the largely forgotten cycling heroes of the early part of the 1900’s who tackled these climbs on old, heavy single speeds,” he said. “I approached Bianchi, the last remaining manufacturer who made bikes in those days and they told me most of those original bikes are now in museums and in no fit state to ride now.”
He partnered the 11kg bike with a retro woolen jersey from Santini, saying: “Despite their reputation they didn’t itch too much but got a little heavy when wet – again all part of experiencing it the way they did back in the day.”