Why L’Eroica is one of the best bike rides in the world (photos)

We defy any cyclist to look at these photographs and not add L'Eroica to their list of must-do rides - All photos by Yuzuru Sunada

The 21st edition of L’Eroica took place in Tuscany, Italy, on Sunday, gathering together a spectacular collection of vintage bikes on an even more spectacular route.

Since its inception in 1997 by Giancarlo Brocci, the annual event has rapidly become one of the most popular mass cycling events in the world. It’s easy to see why, as the riders snake their way through the rolling hills and along the area’s famous white roads, strade bianche.

Brocci started L’Eroica as a celebration of cycling’s rich history, and everyone taking part must do so on a bike made in 1987 or earlier – or a replica machine that adheres to strict ‘vintage’ rules, such as downtube shifters and toeclips. And no internal cable routing, either.

>>> Riding the white roads of Strade Bianche: How I came to love L’Eroica

As well as the bikes, riders also dress in authentic vintage clothing. For anyone who hasn’t turned up suitably attired, then there are stalls from which to buy a whole range of authentic and replica kit.

Several route distances are offered, ranging from 46 to 209 kilometres. All routes start and finish in Gaiole in Chianti.

Due the popularity of the original L’Eroica, there are now 10 Eroica events around the world, including South Africa, California, Uruguay, Japan, Spain, Netherlands and Great Britain.

Taking a break at one of the checkpoints. Photos by Yuzuru Sunada

Tackling the strade bianche

Cyclists gather in a town square at a checkpoint

Ride anything you like, as long as it dates from 1987 or earlier

A lack of gears means getting off and walking

Mechanical assistance is at hand

L’Eroica attracts riders from all over the world

A tree-lined road typical of the region

A stretch of tarmac gives a break from the unmade white roads

Feed station, L’Eroica style

Tuck in

The flea market stocks all sorts of cycling items, not just bike parts and clothing

Setting off at sunrise in the Tuscan hills