2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

The 102nd Tour de France begins in a few days time, on the 4th of July, and it is, for cycling fans, one of the highlights of the year. Yet, while this year’s peloton will enjoy the bleeding edge of technology and the comfort that only significant corporate sponsorship can afford, it’s sobering to remember the onerous conditions racers had to endure even 30 years ago.

That is not to say today’s racers have it easy; 2,087 miles circumnavigating France and riding up and down hors catégorie climbs is no walk in the park. But even 30 years ago, when bikes were still made of steel and riders still used toe clips, it was a harder race. Go further back, even to the first Tour, and you’ll begin to appreciate the reason for this event called Eroica.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

The 2015 Eroica Britannia was held just over a week ago in the United Kingdom’s Peak District. It brought together those cycling fans who respect the trials that the forefathers of our glorious sport had to endure, albeit in a much more enjoyable situation.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Cycle EXIF was honoured to participate in this year’s edition at the invitation of Brooks England, along with over thirty international members of the press and web, and dealers of the Brooks brand. We came from countries as diverse as Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Japan, Italy and the UK.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

As well as a remembrance of endurance, Eroica — wherever it is held, and today that includes Spain, California, Italy and Japan — is a celebration of classic cycling. Eroica Britannia is special in that the entire Peak District is caught up in it, just like Yorkshire was in the 2014 Tour de France.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

The Fuji Racer and GIOS Torino seen here were brought from Japan by the owner of a long-established bike shop. It would be rude to assume his age, and he is probably older than he would appear, but he floated up the hills, despite having calves that looked carved from rock.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Glory Days is a bike-hire and tour-guide operator located in the heart of the Peak District and, like last year’s inaugural Eroica Britannia, they supplied the bikes to Team Brooks. All of their bikes are Eroica-requisite pre-1987, and impeccably maintained.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Surely there is no other country in the world where there have been so many individual frame builders over the years who have built a brand and business out of their name and craft. Every bike seemed to have a story behind it. Keith Lambert and Barry Hoban are but two.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Each bike was comfortably shod in a Brooks saddle, and even a 55 mile ride (three routes were offered: a 30, 55 and 100 mile) — was a reminder why they are the choice of both long distance and style-conscious cyclists. The Chas Roberts below was owned by Pablo of Pelago Bicycles.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday
2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

After landing at Heathrow on Thursday morning, the launch of pannier.cc that night, touring the Brooks Factory in Smethwick on Friday (full report imminent) and settling into the Haddon Farm cottages above Bakewell, Saturday was a whirlwind. Once our bikes arrived, we were keen to get moving.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

We were immediately greeted with views like this. Coming from Sydney, it was a refreshing site. The Peak District is pure rural England, and has plenty of climbing for riders so inclined… After so many hours on the plane and coach, it was a welcome relief.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

The Brooks Team found its way to the Hassop Station Café for lunch which, as the name implies, is located in the original railway station on the Derby to Manchester main line. It was one of three used by Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire (more on that later).

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Oh yes, the Bakewell pudding. This is Bakewell’s local specialty, along with their tarts, and both are amazing — this one especially. So was the Thornbridge L’Eroica Britannia beer. After a long trip and an exhilarating ride, it was as though angels had brewed the hops themselves.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

After lunch, we embarked upon the Monsal Trail, a rail trail that was opened in 1981. It courses for about 8.5 miles, through well-maintained tunnels and over the omniously-named Headstone Viaduct, which itself was featured in one of Norman Wilkinson‘s iconic railway tourism posters.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Finally, we made it to the Bakewell show ground, just next to the town. For the classic cycling fan, it was a sight to behold. Literally thousands of bikes, the spine of the English custom frame building tradition. This Bates Volante was just one example, complete with Cantiflex tubing and Diadrant forks.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Seeing a TJ Cycles ‘Flying Gate’ in person for the first time is something else, even though this road bike frame had been converted into a fixed gear. Next to it, tied up to a pole, was an Ellis-Briggs, a Hetchins and a Holdsworth.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

It was just as satisfying to see so many smiling faces as it was to pore over the myriad bikes and brands. The vintage cars were out in force too, like this Wolseley. Many dogs were present as well, and they looked just as bemused as their local owners.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday
2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday
2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

The Land Rover fans didn’t go hungry either. This one was nearly a pin cushion for Good Life‘s custom painted arrows by Best Made Co. They certainly contrasted with the grey clouds, which everyone watched nervously.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

London’s Pedal Pedlar, vintage cycling specialists, had a well-stocked tent, which was standing room only, as early birds searched for the worms. They had an eclectic collection of apparel and ephemera, but their range of bikes for sale was superb, like this Pinarello.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday
2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday
2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

By now, they will have well and truly moved back into their London store. If you’re in town, it would be worth a visit. Try and snap that Basso ‘after race wear’ cap.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

After a dinner on the grounds of baked snapper, we headed back to the cottages for a kip before what was going to a glorious day of riding and enjoying the atmosphere. On our way back we passed the Mercian tent. Mercian are still producing beautiful bikes in Derby, and have done so since 1946.

2015 Eroica Britannia – Saturday

Stay tuned for 2015 Eroica Britannia – Sunday