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.
The list of Festival attractions is so extensive that it’s hard to know where to begin and where to stop. For children, there will be craft corners and forest workshops. Adults into their gear can enjoy a mass ‘swapshop’ event, and endless entertainment will be on offer in musical form.
The headlining act for 2017 will be platinum selling 80’s icons ABC – they’ll take to the main stage on Saturday evening. The band promise to play hits from the ‘Lexicon of Love and Lexicon of Love II’ – and frontman Martin Fry promises to make a weekend of it and stay to ride on Sunday. Keen cyclist Fry commented: “[I’m] really looking forward to Eroica Britannia. Vintage sounds with vintage wheels. Dusting down my pre '87 kit as we speak."
Also headlining will be Norman Jay MBE – a popular DJ who even received an MBE for his talents. He will be hosting a special era specific Funk, Soul, Rare Groove, Disco and Motown set on the Main Stage on Friday Night – and there are rumours he will also be riding on Sunday too.
The organisers are, of course, chomping at the bit to get started. In an official statement, they commented: “2017 is shaping up to be a most handsome year. We are going to be presenting a world class, 5 star family festival weekend in the 100 acres of our new location which includes beautiful woodlands and great expanses of lush green countryside. Our Headliners, Norman Jay MBE on the Friday, ABC on Saturday and on the Sunday, the 4,500 Riders wowing us with their steely style and determination on their restored pre-1987 cycles in incredible outfitting heading towards our festival finish line to crowds of cheering thousands is the stuff that dreams are made of."
Ride Places are £65/£45 which includes your choice of 25,55 or 100 miles, Rider Registration goodie bag, all food and drink on Ride Day and a three day entry to The Festival. Festival tickets are £20 for a day pass and £30 for a 3-day pass (Advance Purchase only) .
If you want to make a long weekend of it, you can stay for four nights for the price of three on The Homefields - tent and caravan pitches start at £70 for four nights. If 'Glamping' is more your style, you can get three nights and access to the Pamper tent with dressing tables, mirrors and hair dryers/straighteners (to help you get ready for the 'Best in Show' competition!) - prices start at £165 based on two people sharing.
Interested? Find out more here: eroicabritannia.co.uk - and check out the video below for inspiration...