I had heard a lot about Eroica and had seen lots of advertising and photographs showing tweed, wool jerseys and old bicycles. I was never so interested as I just presumed it wouldn't be for me. Oh how wrong I was! I had such an amazing weekend. Although the majority of it was about bicycles it felt like so much more than just that. The festival was a lot of fun, very welcoming and family friendly. The area was huge, there was a fairground, a beer tent, an arts tent, a bike jumble, vintage clothes stalls, lots of bike stalls and heaps of food vans and that wasn't even everything. There were hundreds of people at the festival and a large majority seemed as though they weren't there for the bicycles and maybe they didn't even realise there was a ride on Sunday. Lots of rain days before the festival had turned the Bakewell Showground into a mud bath but still it didn't stop anyone from wading through and enjoying themselves.
I had never been to Bakewell or the Peak District before but it was definitely the right setting for such an event. The old quaint village of Bakewell had all the expected friendly Northerners you can imagine and the beautiful green rolling hills of the Peak District too. Eroica Britannia is a perfect fit.
I wouldn't call myself a vintage bike enthusiast but I can appreciate a bicycle in any form. It's hard not to be wowed by bicycles which were so finely crafted that they have lasted for 40 or more years. There were vintage frames from all around the world. I spotted a few frames by Jack Taylor and noticed the head badge which said Stockton on Tees. This added extra smiles to my weekend since that is my home town.
I was very kindly provided with a bicycle for the weekend by Glory Days. Being so small I was worried it would be too big, but it was perfect. I had only ridden a bike with down tube shifters once before, and not for long, so it took a little while to get used to them. Once I was comfortable on the bike I wasn't looking forward to handing it back. We decided to ride the shorter route with Luciano and Giancarlo (the founder of Eroica) and a few others. The route was 30 miles with a little bit of climbing. There were quite a few old railway tunnels, gravel paths through woods and country lanes passing tiny villages. There were fantastic official Eroica food stops along the route, but we decided to make a few unofficial pub stops too. We took our time, stopped to look around, take photos and chat to other riders. It was such a nice ride and it didn't have the feeling of a race or competition, it was more about enjoying the bicycles, the scenery and the pleasure of pedalling. I think the festival complemented the ride perfectly, and vice versa. I had such an amazing weekend and I can't wait to go to my next Eroica.