Posted by: Anton | March 25, 2011

L’Eroica

You may have seen the coverage from the recent race in Tuscany passing across the famous white roads – strade bianchi – in the Monte Paschi Eroica.

Whilst you may not cover the distance as quick as winner Phillippe Gilbert, you hhave the opportunity this autumn to take part in a great event – riding the L’Eroica sportive on vintage bikes (pre 1987) and enjoying some superb Italian culture and cuisine.

One rider aiming to enjoy the experience is Terry Savage: Having ridden L’Eroica in 2009 on an Italian Olmo and seeing many riders on 1980s biccles, Terry was inspired to return to the event and ride a british made, earlier bicycle.

Terry is a keen member of Classic Lightweights and Marquee expert on Freddie Grubbs, having been introduced to the brand by a 1934 model purchased in Kingston. This led to the Veteran Cycle Club (V-CC) encouraging Terry to become the expert. Terry’s current Freddie Grubb (it’s an on-going joke amongst his fellow riders that Terry does not keep a bike for long!) is an Exquisite, dating from the early 1950s, which was available as a frameset.

Already re-sprayed with delightful gold lug lining, Terry has set about restoring the bike to ride. Being a 1950s cycle, parts are becoming increasingly hard to find, and according to Terry, with a major boom in the interest of “vintage” parts and bicycles, prices re going up and up, forced in part by riders from the far east and the USA.

Terry admits there is a way to go before his bike for L’Eroica 2011 is ready to ride – the Hiduminium brakes need a polish and the Benelux rear derailleur needs re-chroming. However, nearly all the parts Terry requires have been sourced – one headache out of the way! The joy for Terry is the experience of sourcing the parts and building the bicycle, hence why the turn-over of bicycles through Terry’s collection is quite high. He’s a Colnago fan at heart, having ridden nearly every model made, since he purchased his first “Mexico”. The head tube is adorned with a modern reproduction decal, but as Terry explained the original would have been riveted on between the intricate lugs. With a shortage of brass after the war the badge would have been made of tin.

The wheels – Terry is building two sets of wheels – one with large flange Harden (Birmingham) hubs, that are the Rolls Royce of 1950s hub design and build. However, built to 26 x 1 ¼ rims (597) some say the aesthetics of a large flange doesn’t fit. Therefore a set of fixed/free Airlites are being prepped and re-chromed. Terry will use clinchers for L’Eroica to avoid any issues with tubulars and punctures on the strade biancha.

A complete Benelux gruppo allows Terry to run a smaller inner chainring on the Stronglight Crankset. However, this requires a “Touring” rear derailleur, as the Benelux models weren’t built with a modern double parallelogram design. Should the Benelux not work, there is full Simplex set up in Terry’s component collection, not to mention the New-Old-Stock (NOS) front mechanism.

Despite health problems that have kept Terry from riding for an extended period of time, its clear he’s keen to ride the L’Eroica and to enjoy the day out. He’s got a summer of bike tuning and laps of Richmond Park to contend with first, but he’ll surely be out on the Strade.

If you’d like to ride the Eroica this year, La Fuga offers you the chance to experience, with the potential to hire a bike. Click here for more information – limited spaces available!


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