This year Eroica California, the vintage bike festival and ride, was held in Cambria on California’s Central Coast.
Our friend John from Wales rode with us again this year, and we were joined on the ride by Nial, Alec and Bart of the Old Velos, Irish friends we met at Eroica Britannia in 2018. In the video you can see them wearing their classy “Toin le Gaoth” jerseys which means “Wind at your ass”, which is every cyclist’s dream.
After touring the Outer Hebrides, Northern Scotland, the Orkney and Shetland islands with our Bromptons, Stacy & I joined our friend John Renowden in the Peak District for the 2018 Eroica Britannia festival.
John’s family joined us at the Saturday festival, then Stacy, John & I rode the vintage bike ride on Sunday. It was everything you’d expect from a British ride: hills, a bit of rain, more hills, and a pint at the finish.
We had a great time, and made a short movie about the Sunday ride. Other than spelling Britannia wrong in the title (D’oh!) it turned out pretty good:
The 2015 Eroica California, the first ever held in the United States, was a great success and we had a wonderful time attending. The Eroica is a vintage bike festival and ride that celebrates the beauty and history of the golden age of racing bicycles and the virtues of challenging oneself with long and difficult rides. There were three route options, 41 miles, 65 miles and 123 miles. The 123 mile long route sounded like the most fun and challenging, so that’s what we chose:
Long Route: 123 miles
Ascent: 9700 ft Unpaved Road: 36 miles
Start times: 5:00am – 6:30am
This is the true Eroica route. After the rest stop at Halter Ranch the long route begins its journey to the Pacific Ocean.
Fortunately, there is one major obstacle in the way, Cypress Mountain. This mountainous area is the home to the ghost town of Klau and several long abandoned mercury mines. If you look closely you will see an old, rotary furnace near the start of the next dirt section.
Cypress Mountain Rd (CMR) is a challenging, stair stepping, gravel road that will have participants longing for the summit. One section of this climb approaches a 20% grade near the top. At the top you will be awarded with a fantastic view before you take on the steep and technical descent into Cambria. There you will find another well deserved rest stop in the middle of this charming town near mile 78.
Riders now have a brief respite along Highway 1 (one of the most beautiful Highways in the USA). Take in the view of the Pacific shoreline and hope for a tail wind. If you look to the south you will see Morro Rock in the distance. Your next stop is the Beach/Surf town of Cayucos and the rest stop is located by the historic pier at mile 91.
Fuel up at this rest stop because you still have one more obstacle, the 7 mile climb on the gravel road of Santa Rita Creek in your future. This climb is a little easier than CMR and you will notice a change to the scenery near the summit. The last rest stop will be near mile 110 and it will offer the basic needs for the riders (water and small snacks) followed by the return to Paso Robles. The route from this rest stop will look familiar.
Be sure to follow the markers or risk the chance of going the wrong way on Kiler Canyon. At this point you would not want to climb that again! If all goes well you will arrive back in Paso Robles before dark and enjoy the accomplishment of being one of the true Eroica (Heroic) riders.
Stacy and I started a bit later than the majority of the long-riders and as a result of our relaxed pace ended up riding much of the ride alone or with a handful of other riders. It didn’t matter, the course was spectacular and the ride was one of the best we have ever done.
The route selection was superb, the roads were quiet and scenic, the gravel and dirt portions were challenging but do-able, and the route-sheet and signage made it easy to follow the route.
The first two cyclists we met in Paso Robles were Giancarlo Brocci, the founder of Eroica, and Michele Pescini, the Mayor of Gaiole. What a treat!
Classic racing bikes and gear
Wine tasting with randonneuring friends Jenny and Jason in Paso Robles