Music. Entertainment. Acres of vintage shopping and an Adventure Kids Club. Camping (and glamping). And cycling. If just a few of those attractions tick your boxes then Eroica Britannia could be for you.
Taking place in June, the festival of all things cycling, and all things vintage, is gearing up for another fabulous year, with tickets selling faster than ever. This is no ordinary cycling festival. Eroica stands for spirit, authenticity, adventure, heritage and passion. All riders on the challenge routes will cycle on pre-1987 bikes. If you’ve not got an appropriate bike, you can hire one and have it ready and waiting for you at the festival.
In 2016, women made up 1,000 of the overall 4,500 riders – and a large percentage of the overall festival visitors of 40,000. This year it’s hoped there will be even more women on the start line and at the festival.
Eroica events began in Tuscany in 1997 – when one rider wanted to ‘reconnect others to the heritage that inspired much Italian history, literature, culture, and music’. The initial event attracted 92 ‘hunters of feelings and emotions’ – and the annual celebration grew from there, morphing into a series which now includes the UK event.
Commenting on the ride, Chris Boardman MBE said: “The whole experience was a step back in time to a -possibly mythical- civilised era, were ladies and gentleman explored the countryside in stately style. No one is timed in Eroica Britannia, that would be uncouth, the only prize on offer is for the last rider over the line.”
The event has clearly impressed riders from far and wide in the last three years, but they’re not resting on their laurels. The fourth Eroica Britannia, running from June 16-18, sees the Festival Camp – where there will be camping, stalls selling all manner of delicacies and fancies, and children’s entertainment – moved to the expansive farmlands surrounding Friden Grange in the Peak District National Park.
Saturday’s Headline rides will now start directly from the Festival Camp, with several free rides for children and families as well. The Friden Grange was selected because it’s close to the White Peak arterial travel route, the High Peak Trail, the former Cromford and High Peak Railway – which now has a starring role in the event.
The event’s Sunday ‘Headline Ride’ includes three routes – a 25 mile option, 55 mile option and 100 mile extravaganza. All routes will explore the trails and white roads of the Peak District, taking in stunning views across climbs and fast descents. Riders taking on the challenge must ride in pre-1987 road bikes, with clothing to match – as per all Eroica events.
The peloton will leave the Festival with cheers from the HQ echoing behind them, and roll back to be greeted by their newest, biggest fans.
Former pro David Millar commented on his own experience of the event: “Speed didn’t matter, it was a case of setting off and finding your way to the finish in whatever time it took to make it there, the organisation was impeccable and safety unquestionable. A feat in its own right considering the spread of abilities out on the course at one time.”
As well as the ‘Headline Ride’ there will be a Twilight Adventure Ride on the Friday, and an Islabikes Family Ride on the Saturday – ensuring that there’s something to keep everyone happy.