Saturday, August 15, 2009

We Got Your Gravel Road Races Here

Rant Mode: ON

Okay folks, here's a bit of back round for ya first. Gravel roads- they are not just in the Mid-West! Just so you know. In fact, a bit of a ride over in Italy is (truly) steeped in tradition that covers a gravel road route. It is called L'Eroica, and you can think of it as Italy's version of Paris-Roubaix. In fact, The website, Flamme Rouge, has this to say about it:

"The L'Eroica is Italy's equivalent of Paris-Roubaix. Instead of cobbles you race over the strade-bianchi, the "white roads". An intrepid band of people are fighting to keep them from being covered in tarmac. This event helps raise their profile and keep them on the map. I thought the strade-bianchi would be like our railway walk, smooth, shale covered roads. In fact, Jersey's equivalent would be El Tico's car park. Deep ruts, pot holes and industrial sized gravel. Just acceptable for a car park but a little daunting for a public highway."

"The full distance L'Eroica is a monster. It's 200 kilometres, with 110 on the rough stuff. Anyone who finishes in under 12 hours gets a massive Tuscan hamper. That's how hard it is. I was up for the 140k ride but that started at 5:30 am! Seeing as I was on holiday I decided to ride the 80k event with Dianne, 40k of which was on the dreaded white road."

Okay, so what does that remind you of? You know- it is just a coincidence that Trans Iowa is similar. Really! Jeff and I didn't even know a single word in Italian back in 2004. (Well, with the exceptions of Colnago and Bianchi!) At any rate, you have to admire the European version of this gravel passion. Pretty cool stuff!

So I had to laugh when I received this e-mail concerning a U.S. version of L'Eroica. (I don't know about you, but when I see "L'Eroica", I think I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing. Weird!) Anyway.... So, they are running a U.S. version of an event that is run in Italy to bring awareness to the "strade-bianchi" and hopefully preserve it. Save it from being paved? I like that idea. Then I read the following:

"L’Eroica Boulder is a “period” cycletourist rallye run over country roads North of Boulder, Colorado. Fashioned after L’Eroica Italy, an event conceived to preserve the “strade bianche” or white roads of Tuscany, L’Eroica Boulder is an energetic way to enjoy open spaces by bicycle in the ambiance of a bygone cycling era and of a simpler, gentler time.

Steeped in tradition, L’Eroica Boulder is unlike any organized tour. The 30-mile route taking participants over a combination of asphalt and unpaved surfaces is the perfect balance to challenge not only the experienced rider, but to afford the non-cyclist an opportunity to display his or her “heroism”."

Say what? 30 miles?! Whatever dude! The guys in Europe are doing 124.27 miles!! I got yer gravel road rides here, folks. Take a look over in the middle of the country. We've got this gravel thing dialed! And it's as real as it gets. Guts, "heroism", and feats of cycling skill and endurance that some sanitized 30 mile ride north of The Republic of Boulder will never attain to .

"L'Eroica Boulder" my.........pfffttttt!!!!

That's about as ridiculous as it gets.

So, yeah. I got a little worked up about that, but it is okay. They can have their little deal over there and it is all good, because- you know- they are riding bicycles after all.

But to say L'Eroica Boulder is "steeped in tradition"? About the only thing I can see that they would possibly be "steeped in" is hippie tea.

Have a great weekend folks!

Rant Mode: OFF.

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