L'Eroica Brittania

Marcus Esser

Massimiliano Mascerini (on his original 1970s Masi, was used during the Giro d'Italia) and Marcus Esser (on his modified 1986 Puma) took part in the 2014 Eroica Britannia, a vintage biking event, taking place from June 20-22 in Bakewell, PeakDistrict, UK.

According to the organiser, more than 2000+ "heroic riders" had registered and participated, Massi and Marcus can confirm to have seen hundreds of participants during the actual ride on Sunday. Riders were able to choose between a 30, 55 and 100 mile route, all of them comprising significant off-road parts and climbs. Weather conditions were perfect, sunshine throughout the weekend with temperatures between20 and 24 degrees Celsius. Massi and Marcus successfully completed the 55 mile route (with a measured distance of 91km and 1800m climb, 6 hours ride time between 9am and 5pm). The track was partly very challenging with gravel and mud passages, sometimes very steep - walking and carrying the bikes happened frequently.

Gravel and mud made up much of the track

A lot of the off road parts was guiding the riders over ancient Victorian railroad tracks (with many tunnels and bridges) that were transformed into bike paths. During 4 refreshment stops, riders were offered free local food and drinks at spectacular locations.

Besides the ride, a festival took place on the Bakewell event location - participants were invited to camp on the festival ground for free if they wanted. Plenty of food and drinks were available, live music/entertainment was offered and vintage bike related shops offered their products in tents. All in all a great experience - and the 2014 original Eroica awaits us. Registration is open now...

P.S. For anyone interested in Massi's Masi (not since Celeste Marin rode her Bianchi Celeste has there been such a wonderful confluence of person and bike) – see here. Massi's bike is a Masi Prestige 1979, pantographed by Alberto Masi. It participated in the Giro d'Italia in 1980. The bike is equipped with Campagnolo Super Record 1980 components, with breaks, hubs and gear levers most probably from early 70s.


Meanwhile over in Clare, on a glorious sunny day Matt Williams and Breda Horan took part in the Tour De Burren, here are their accounts...

Tour de Burren - from Mars

Matt Williams

I parked up at Ballyvaughan with an hour before kick-off and went through my usual routine of registration, getting bike and kit ready, eating a banana or two and taking on some liquid, before heading off to the portaloos and riding alongside Sean Kelly en route. In what other sport could the average person mingle with sporting legends in such a way…

At the start I tried to catch up with Eugène Dillon. As we had never met before he said to look out for a BMC jersey with accompanying pink gloves. After approaching three BMC-clad riders and asking "Hi, are you Eugène?" and after getting three rejections I decided to look out for him once we got under way.

The weather was good, the scenery was great and I was feeling strong, this is what makes all the hard training miles during the winter worthwhile. With the first few kilometres under my belt, I noticed a rider decked out in BMC kit with pink gloves on my right shoulder, it must be, sure enough it was Eugène. We introduced ourselves and had a brief chat then Eugène was off into the distance. Not long after I happened upon Breda Horan and Nicole Bork resplendent in their Orwell kit, there was no mistaking them. Once again we introduced ourselves and I spent the next few kilometres chatting with them (very nice to meet you both) before heading off on my own.

I had never ridden this route or part of the country before so I wasn't too sure what to expect climb wise, although a work colleague advised me that it route wouldn't be as hilly as the Wicklow 200. The first climb wasn't too bad, which gave me confidence that his info on the route was correct and not some sadistic prank. Corkscrew Hill was even better due to the smooth tar-mac and the novelty of zig-zagging upwards opposed to the long straight climbs I'm used to.

After the first food stop at Lisdoonvarna I joined up again with Eugène for a while in a group and racked some distance. During this stint a nasty accident was narrowly avoided. The group were riding at a good pace when one rider came from the rear and decided to ride alongside the group on the wrong side of the road oblivious to the fact that a car was heading straight for him head on. Somehow the group managed to free up some space with seconds to spare for him to just avoid being taken out by the car. With the combined speed of the rider and car it would have been serious for him and the riders around him (me included)...

Thankfully the rest of the day was very enjoyable and drama free. After munching my way though a few more bananas and a bar at the last stop at Lisdoonvarna I joined up with a few lads from the Burren Cycling club and stayed with them to the finish along the coast road.

The ice cream and flake at the finish was a nice and rather unexpected surprise, much better than a bowl of pasta!

P.S. A big thanks to all the volunteers for helping make the day an enjoyable one.


Tour de Burren - from Venus

Breda Horan

When I arrived into cloudy Ballyvaughan shortly after 8am, crowds were starting to gather but there wasn't an Orwell jersey in sight or the familiar faces of Nicole Bork, Juan Hernandez, Eugène Dillon and Judith Byrne who were all due to attend.

At sign on I had a brief glimpse at the route map, making note of the food stops - 60km and 122km, easy to remember. I headed back to my car to get ready and bumped into Eugène and we made our way to the start. I managed to lose him in the congested streets so off I went hoping it wouldn't be a lonely 160k. The narrow roads didn't give much opportunity to overtake but I needed to find some Orwell members so I edged my way past the cyclists. Not even 300m into the Tour, there were frantic calls of "BRAKING", "STOPPING", "ON THE LEFT". I glanced over my shoulder and on the inside I could see a bike on the ground and a potential pile up scenario. Best not to hang around too long or I could find myself in a situation like that.

Soon after I spotted Nicole and as we made our way along we caught up to Matt Williams. We settled ourselves into a comfortable pace but it must have been too slow for Matt so he said his goodbyes and whizzed off. In losing one member, we gained another, with Juan politely asking if we would mind him joining us for the remainder. At a very brief pit-stop about 30km in to the cycle a local spectator informed us that we were just about to start a tough climb - 3km of Mini Corkscrew. Juan tried to disagree that the actual Corkscrew Hill is the tougher climb but she seemed fairly certain that the mini corkscrew was much more demanding. We thanked her for the warning and headed off. A photographer was very strategically located mid-climb to take advantage of the limestone paved landscape, a welcome distraction from the climbing. We skipped the water station at the top and gladly regained any ground we had lost earlier.

Even though I had been grazing on food, nearing the 60km mark I began to look for the food stop, which Juan informed me was actually in Lisdoonvarna, 15km away!!! "He must have read the sign wrong", I thought to myself. Then I saw a handwritten sign for "fine wine and food 300m" and foolishly thought my prayers were answered. It wasn't quite the food stop I was looking for, so poor Juan had to listen to my complaining for a little bit. I was quickly muted by a sign for a Strava Segment - 4.7km of 4.2% gradient - Corkscrew Hill.

Eventually we arrived at Lisdoonvarna to a very impressive feast of smoked salmon on brown bread, cheesecake, brownies, apple tart as well as the usual sandwiches, biscuits etc. We couldn't say we would be going home hungry. I skipped the sweet treats this time as it looked like there would be plenty to go around. Here we met Eugène but he was hurrying off with his faster paced Dolmen crew.

Juan decided to cycle some of the next section with a friend and catch up with us later, so Nicole and I headed off. Somewhere after the food stop I pulled my quad muscle but chose to ignore it and cycled on. The next 50km or so was a blur passing the Cliffs of Moher, Lahinch and Ennistymon. However, you couldn't miss the Fr Ted Bar in Kilfenora with its huge Dreams vs Reality poster outside.

Back at Lisdoonvarna again, my leg was very sore so but I figured with 35km to go, some Deep Heat would get me home. Passing through Doolin there looked to be plenty happening with hen parties out in their illuminous clothing to cheer us all on. With my knee in agony and my cycling becoming more of a crawl, I decided to call it a day, less than 20km from the finish line. Nicole and Juan made their way back to Ballyvaughan and I was collected by Cathy, who was very helpful. She mentioned she had been at the food stop all day and was then going to take over at the ice-cream van so I made sure to compliment how very well organised it all was.

At the finish line we were all given a Tour de Burren t-shirt and buff and I briefly caught up with Juan and Nicole again before we all parted company. Overall it was a great day out, despite the injury!