RIDE #34‘s instalment of Caffeine Culture related to riding L’Etape du Tour – the mass participation ride that’s organised in conjunction with the Tour de France. But the ‘Bikes from the Bunch’ feature was from Beechworth in Victoria…
L’Etape du Tour is one Gran Fondo style event that has appeared in recent years. The concept is simple: to provide a safe and controlled environment for like minded people to get together, go cycling and celebrate their accomplishment afterwards. A good meal chased down by a glass or two of wine is a popular conclusion for those who participate in the growing number of rides that are now littered throughout the calendar.
L’Eroica is an Italian cyclotourist rally contested on gravel roads in the Chianti region. The ride has been held in early October since 1996. This year an Australian equivalent was organised by John Hennessey, a cycling enthusiast with a particular passion for vintage bikes, good wine and the Beechworth region of Victoria where he lives.
The inaugural Aussie L’Eroica attracted 33 participants from near and far. Hennessey adhered to the Italian equivalent’s rules which state: “This is a ‘period’ rally, modern bicycles and clothing are admitted. However, only bikes built before 1980 will be eligible to be judged along with the clothing and ‘interpretation’ of the ‘heroic’ cyclists…”
This issue’s Bikes From The Bunch is a little out of the ordinary. Everyone interviewed was part of the L’Eroica ride. Their passion for vintage cycling is obvious, and the common theme with previous instalments is that they all love riding.
“It was one of the highlights of my year,” Adam Leddin from Coogee told Hennessey after being part of L’Eroica. “As a young person it has given me inspiration, a personal challenge and an outlet for creative expression amongst my peers.”
An avid cyclist and bicycle collector, Charlie Farren and her partner ventured up to Beechworth for the ride and despite the ages of their respective machines, weren’t bothered by the rough terrain. Most of the route used for L’Eroica was on gravel roads and while there were numerous punctures, each contestant reached the obligatory wine stops. “They needed to work,” said Charlie of the brakes on ‘The Barb’, a suspended bike from the 1930s. “Putting it bluntly, the terrain was challenging.”