The Eroica events started in Tuscany as a celebration of classic Italian cycling, and has since grown to include locations such as Bakewell in the UK, Montagu in South Africa and Paso Robles in California. An Eddy Merckx Corsa is an Eroica-approved ride, and this one continues to be the vehicle of choice for it’s owner, nearly a year after the event .
Brian Ganglehoff acquired this Corsa specifically for the 2015 Eroica California event, as it complied with the event’s required ‘rules of aesthetics’. That is: bikes have to be in the spirit of 1987 or earlier, have non-aero cabling, down tube shifters and finally, have pedals with toe straps and clips.
For some, it’s unheard of to ride such ill-equipped bikes on anything but freshly-paved roads. But that’s what the Eroica events are all about: to remind us of the bygone heroes who rode the classic races over rocky alpine roads on heavy steel frames and minimal assistance. It’s also one of the most fun weekends on a bike you can have.
Last year’s Eroica California was a resounding success, and this year’s — held on the 8th-10th of April — is shaping up to be a complete repeat. Preparations are already being made, and for Brian, it will just mean attaching clips to the pedals and swapping the brake levers back to the non-aero units.
After riding the 2015 event on his Merckx, Brian felt it fit him better than several of the modern rigs in his stable. It’s a common story with these classic steel bikes; they seem to tick boxes that machine-made bikes can’t seem to. Of course, it helps that a 1984 Eddy Merckx Corsa is a true thoroughbred.
According to Brian’s research, his Corsa was manufactured — by hand, in Belgium — in 1984. If that’s the case, and we’d invite readers to correct us with more concrete facts, the rest of the components are period correct — irrespective of the fact that they’re a boiling concoction of both Shimano and Campagnolo.
The cranks, front derailleur and shifters are Campagnolo, the rest is 7400-series Dura-Ace. Having bought the Merckx as a frameset, Brian scavenged the components from his parts bin or online resources, hence the mixed heritage. Let the purists rage. This is a bike that gets ridden regularly by a devoted rider around the San Francisco Bay.
For a bike that is obviously ridden as much as it does, it does seem to have an uncommonly clean drivetrain. That’s because Brian uses wax instead of liquid lubricants. Not candle wax, of course, but bike-specific drivetrain waxes such as Molten Speed Wax. Apparently it keeps your cogs clean and preserves your components.
The rest of the build is just as eclectic, but perfectly functional and is totally in the spirit of 1987 or earlier: vintage FIR rims, a 3ttt stem and Nitto handlebars. Hopefully Brian and his Merckx Corsa is heading to Paso Robles again this year. But if not, he’ll still get to enjoy a little Eroica each time he takes it for a ride.