That idea of “ beauty of fatigue and thrill of conquest ….” Giancarlo Brocci
On October 7th 2018 , Andrew Hawes , Justin Liddle and Alan Montague-Dennis travelled to Pisa with their vintage steel bicycles to join our Italian agency Principals , Ciacci Piccolomoni D’Aragona to form “Team Ciacci” and participate in L’Eroica di Gaiole ; a 130km route in the Tuscan hills centred around the Chianti Classico production area ; joining 7,500 riders ( 2,500 from outside Italy from as far as California and Japan ) .
Setting off at dawn , passing Brolio in the half-light , illuminated only by small torches , the sun rising at first followed by a torrential down pour of heavy rain as we started to glimpse the towers of Sienna on the horizon. The route had 7 stretches of white roads ( Strade Bianche ) and an elevation of over 2,000 meters . This was a celebration of cycling generations before us , pre carbon frames , disc brakes and sophisticated gearing . All the climbs had to be taken slowly , with the characteristic sound of creaking chains as the only background noise to the sound of gasping breath, moving up the steep gravel roads , meter by meter , listening to the beat of your heart racing . We were all wearing the woollen jerseys and shorts – a far cry from the tight -fitting lycra we wear today !
The journey , cycling along slowly taking in beauty of the Tuscan Hills took us nearly 12 hours to complete taking in 4 food stops , starting from Radi , before travelling along to Buonconvento , followed by Asciano and then Castelnuovo Beradenga , Val d’ Arbia and Crete di Asciano before attacking the gruesome and fearsome Monte Sante Marie and finally returning to the Chianti area.
It is hard to explain the emotion we all felt participating in Eroica with our friends from Ciacci; Paolo Bianchini ( a former professional cyclist and now one Italy’s top winemakers ) and his Sales Director , Mauro Zanca . It was an event on historical bicycles that recalls another era of cycling . It was an experience of dust , sacrifice and fatigue. It was an event enlivened not only by numerous lovers of cycling from all over the world , but also by many people who wanted to enjoy this unique atmosphere of these days in Tuscany. Banquets were set up along the route where ladies , wearing elegant vintage dresses and hats , serve tasty local food. Tuscan bread with freshly pressed green olive oil or salami, pecorino cheese and desserts , jam tarts , bread with Nutella or apple pies accompanied by the Chianti wine of course !
Eroica is an acronym for emotion , respect pride , commitment , courage and friendship – we all experienced this in Tuscany . And this is reflected in the beautiful range of Brunello wines we now represent from Ciacci Piccolomini D’ Arogona . I can’t wait to do it all over again !