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L’Eroica: celebrating cycling past and present

2013 l'Eroica Donkeys


You know you’ve finally escaped the hustle and bustle when Gaiole in Chianti counts as a “big” town. After all, it only has a couple of thousand inhabitants. Compared to inGamba’s home in Lecchi, however, it counts as a metropolis.

Ordinarily, it’s a sleepy little enclave in Tuscany’s idyllic countryside, and if you stopped there mid-ride for a coffee, or drove down to pick up some meat from the 300-year-old Chini butcher shop, you couldn’t fail to notice just how peaceful the place is.

Once a year, though, that tranquil pace is interrupted by an influx of retro riders, all searching for the ultimate in classic thrills: L’Eroica.


2013 l'Eroica Donkeys



A local doctor, Giancarlo Brocci, started the now world-famous event in 1997 as a tribute to his beloved golden age of cycling, when the roads were treacherous, the bikes heavy and the riders all classic “hard men”.

These days, more than 4,000 wannabe hard men and women from all the world flock to Tuscany to test their mettle – and their metal. Riders of all shapes and sizes, straddling all manner of steel framed classics, seem magnetically drawn to both the charming countryside, and the idea of cycling that it represents.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. When the first riders took to the road 18 years ago, they were few and their motives were simple: celebrate the golden age of cycling and protect what’s left of the region’s iconic strade bianche by raising awareness.


2013 l'Eroica Donkeys



The roads were fast succumbing to modern asphalt, and while for the most part this kind of surface is better for everyone, it lacks the history and charm of its dusty predecessor. Almost two decades on, and the white roads that so epitomise the old, rustic charm of Tuscany are protected by local government and preserved to torture cyclists for decades to come.

Brocci is still at the heart of the event, though along the way he’s had to enlist the help of countless volunteers and fellow appassionati. The Tuscan has called Gaiole in Chianti his home since he was born there in 1954, and claims to have become a cycling fan as a young child when as one of the few people in the village at that time who could read, he’d be called upon by the elders to recite the cycling action from La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy’s most popular sports daily and the newspaper that shares its famous pink colour with the leader’s maglia rosa in the Giro d’Italia.

L’Eroica now has popular events in Japan, Britain, Spain and the US, but for us, the Italian edition will always be the Primus inter pares, the first among equals, when it comes to clearing dates on our calendar. It’s where it all started, and there’s no place like home.


2013 l'Eroica Donkeys

Guest’s opinion: Riding with Miguel Indurain was a dream



Kim McClure is a research scientist living in Southeastern Connecticut. A California native, Kim first fell in love with cycling as a child when his family lived in Switzerland – so it’s probably not surprising he chose one of our Dolomites trips to join the inGamba family.

There was also another unique draw for Kim, however: the presence of a certain five-time Tour de France champion. 

“My wife, MaryAlice, found out about inGamba by specifically looking for cycling tours that might involve Miguel Indurain,” says Kim from his home.




“The prospect of riding with Indurain in the Dolomites made this trip a once in a lifetime opportunity. To ride with him was literally a dream come true for me. Miguel is a down to earth, genuinely nice human being – though his abilities on a bike are completely out of this world. He is a true champion.

“Climbing the Passo delle Erbe with Indurain and having him guide me down the other side is a memory I’ll never forget. As I said to him at the end of the trip: my cycling life is now complete.”

Of course, there was more to Kim’s trip than just the company of a legend. The panoramic beauty of the Dolomites, and the roads that carve through those mountains, are more than enough motivation to make the journey. And when you add that to the unique atmosphere guests find at Hotel La Perla, we’d like to think that the urge to visit this special corner of Italy becomes pretty compelling.

“The experience at La Perla was incredible,” says Kim. “The room was warm, inviting and luxurious. The food at the various restaurants was delicious. We loved the attached Pinarello museum. The staff were super friendly and helpful. The ownership of La Perla clearly cares and it shows.”




Kim was also quick to mention our staff (thankfully, too, because otherwise there’d be some uncomfortable questions in the office). Of the inGamba team, he offered: “The whole trip was well organized and the staff were extremely helpful – and Eros Poli is a perfect host and guide! The Di2 equipped Pinarello F8 Dogmas used during the tour were outstanding. I don’t have a reference to compare to, but an inGamba tour would be hard to top. I would not even bother to look around; I’d do another trip with inGamba straightaway.” We look forward to having him back.




Vittoria tubulars: when only the best will do



Life is too short for bad bikes or cheap wine. That’s our philosophy and we’re sticking to it, because once you’ve had the best, there’s no going back.

All of our bikes are shod with Vittoria tubulars for a reason: we think they rock. And when you’re rolling in a mini peloton with a fleet of Pinarello F8s and a mechanical support car right behind, you need to be rocking.

Most of you will need no introduction to the storied Italian tyre brand. We don’t have the space to get into their palmarès here but trust us, it’s long. Bernard Hinault trusted them. So to did Francesco Moser and Marco Pantani. And when John Degenkolb out-sprinted Zdeněk Štybar and Greg Van Avermaet to win the 2015 edition of Paris Roubaix, he did it on Vittoria rubber.

Long-time fans will tell you that they love the supple feel and incredible grip. The fanatics will even insist that they sound differently at speed (they do). They might not be the hardiest tyre on the market, but they’re not meant to be. They’re meant to be fast. Just like that really expensive road bike of yours.

That performance comes from their high TPI – the threads per inch in the tubular’s cotton casing. The higher the number, the better the tyre deals with rough roads and changeable surfaces because it deforms easier, providing more traction. Your average nylon clincher will have a TPI of anywhere from 60 to 150; the cotton-cased Corsa range comes in at 320. That means that they can use less material to make a stronger tyre, saving weight and promising a smooth ride.

So if you want to carve through bends, fly up mountains and descend with confidence – we know we do – they’re the obvious choice. Upgrading wheels and tyres is the most dramatic performance improvement you can make to a bike. And because those tyres are your only contact point with the road and not something that’s worth being cheap with. So go on: treat yourself. You can thank us later.

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Vittoria made waves earlier this season by releasing Magic Mastik, a glue that promises to revolutionise the way we think about tubs. No more multiple layers, no more waiting for days. Just one application and an overnight cure and they’re ready to race. We think it’s amazing, but if you’re old skool there’s no shame in sticking – pun intended – with the tried and trusted Mastik’One either. Check out the video below to see how easy Magic Mastik is. 


The Secret Handshake ride



It began with 102 kilometres from Cluses to Areches, to shake out the legs. The arduous Col de la Colombière – so often the scene of drama in the Tour de France – was one of just four mountains that combined for 3,236m of climbing, all under a baking sun. And this was supposed to be the easy day. The warm up.

To cool down, there was only one thing for it. Behind the hotel, over a fence and down a small slope, ran a river. Ice cold meltwater, flowing right from on top of the Col. For a bunch of slow-broiled cyclists with salt-caked kit and swollen legs, it couldn’t have been more welcoming had it been gushing straight from heaven. Even the soigneur – guardian of the legs, high priest of recovery – approved. The pros have proper ice baths prepared for them to fight against delayed onset muscle soreness and inflammation, but for a bunch of friends on a stupidly difficult ride across France, a frigid stream was as good as it was going to get.




It bears repeating: this was the easy day. But then, that’s what happens when you let your crazy friends be in charge for a while. Because, ladies and gents, this is Jered Gruber’s idea of fun. This is his Dream Ride across the snow-capped Alps to Nice and the sun-drenched beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. We’re just along for the ride.

Most of you will know Jered, the photographer. What you might not know is that there’s another side to him: Jered, the cartographer. He has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Europe’s great roads, and he’s constantly searching for the lesser-known, hidden gems that weave their way through the Alps and the Dolomites.

This six-day Randonnée from the Rhône-Alpes to Nice and the Côte d’Azur is a leg-destroying, spirit-lifting combination of his favourite ascents. The invitation-only ride covers almost 830km and ascends more than 25,000m, climbing some of the sport’s most iconic roads. The Col d’Iseran, Galibier, Izoard, Sampeyre and la Bonnette are just a few of the peaks along the way, but if the opening stages are any indication, we expect the lesser known summits like the Cormet de Roselend to be the real stars.

Watch this space for more, and be sure to keep an eye on our Instagram for some incredible photos from Jered.