The Eroica Phenomena began with one man: Giancarlo Brocci.
The British version of this endeavour (there are variants of the race that now run worldwide) celebrated its 5th Anniversary last weekend. My husband is very much a lover not simply of the race, but the restoration and care of old bikes that has sprung from such events. It is not as expensive as returning a classic car to life, but there is cash (and care) involved. The people he has met as a result of his efforts to restore and enjoy the past are genuinely passionate, decent and wonderful human beings.
Here is a 1951 Bianchi Folgorissima (Super Lightning), frame number 287446. This style of bike was ridden by Il Campionissimo Fausto Coppi to victory in the 1950 Paris-Roubaix. My husband has spent £1200 plus restoring a bike which requires you to change gear by reaching backwards. It has no front levers, and only a single ring, and even me with my neophyte riding skills knows this is not a bike to be going up huge hills on. It is a piece of metal to be admired, respected and taken care of.
This last weekend was about my husband going to thank the people at the show who’d realised his dream to take the bike (which was rescued from Italy and and awful paint job for his 50th birthday) and make it something truly beautiful. It is also for me about grasping the sheer weight of history that cycling manufacture had in this country which is really beginning to enthuse a new generation of enthusiasts into the process of rescue and restoration.
On Friday afternoon we’d packed up the three bikes he was taking and my own ride (a Nigel Dean ladies bike circa 1983) and decamped to the Derbyshire Peaks. What followed were two days of history, admiration and some absolutely cracking examples of people pretending 2018 is just a distant memory…