My good friend & training partner Sean I & decided to ride the Eroica South Africa retro steel bike ride, so my old steel frame Hansom was taken off the garage wall and resurrected into a riding bike, at the same time, my old Zini was passed over to Sean who stripped off the 30+ year old hand painted murky green and had it repainted in a stunning bright red. The Hansom, a local frame made by Master Frame Builder Gotty Hansen has been in my life for 25+ years as my back-up bike during my early racing days, whenever something went amiss with my then racing aluminium or carbon frame the Hansom would hurriedly get built up while the uber racing machine was being sorted out. I posted some quite impressive times on it back in the day. The Zini was bought purely for the Cinelli stem it had on it at the time. Eroica requires steel or period aluminium with low profile rims, toe clips, down tube shifters and non aero brakes - although for South Africa we can run aero levers as our racing heritage is a little newer then Europe so we have a special dispensation. No STI or Ergopower !!
My good friend Martin owns RacePace Cycling Clothing Company, so some sketches for a suitable shirt were made and his head designer Nicole interpreted my scribblings to perfection - bearing in mind that my stick figures don't even look like stick figures... All credit for the stunning kit must go to Nicole at RacePace !!
That sorted, a steel bike ride needs a steel car, so the '61 Ti was selected as the weapon of choice, I had some decals made, including Rossi Motors one to match the kit - Walter Rossi used to run Rossi Motors many years ago, he was the Alfa Dealer in Pretoria North, a nicer man you could not hope to meet. I phoned him up and told him what my plan was and asked if I could please use his old Dealership name as it suited the period of the bikes and the cars, being the gentleman he is, he immediately agreed and it was a privilege to honour an old friend. Walter still owns his immaculate Giulia Spider Veloce as well as a '58 Sprint Veloce Confortevole and a 1900 Ti Super sedan amongst others.
Eroica South Africa is centered in the little town of Montague which is +- 650kms/405 miles from Port Elizabeth. The Ti fresh from our 2500/1600 mi tour in October was duly serviced and greased, washed polished and readied for the trip. The back seat cushion was removed to make space for the bikes and both were loaded in with blankets separating them. We clocked up just over 2000km/1300mi there and back with a few side trips just because we could and the car & crew were willing !!
Eroica isn't a race, but a celebration of the bicycle, it's run partly on tarmac and partly on gravel, like the Gran Fondo's of yesteryear, excepting not for time. The first stop at 20kms/12.5mi was at a Brandy distillery, breakfast included bacon butties, coffee & brandy shots.... makes a pleasant change from racing our hearts & lungs out that's for sure. We had selected the 90kms/56mi Kogmans route which is essentially a figure 8 with the start & finish point being in the middle. A slipping chain & a puncture delayed us a bit and we duly set off on the second 45km/28mi loop.......sheesh they took us into the mountains on gravel roads with mother climbs, (note to self 53/42 & 12-21 is not the ideal hill climbing combination), but we made it in spite of the temps soaring over 40+*C/104+F. Age & a carbon daily ride had lulled me into a false sense of comfort.... those old steel bikes are h_e_a_v_y !!! Montague experienced torrential rains 5 days before we arrived so the gravel road surfaces were really rough thanks to serious water erosion with thick silt over the low lying areas of the road - made for interesting riding & several punctures.
Apparently the rumour went around the bunch that the 2 guys in Alfa shirts had come out from Italy for the ride with their Zini bikes.....
If y'all get the chance to ride an Eoica ride, go for it, they are run by Eroica Italy and are popping up all over the world, Sean & I will both be back next year, same bikes, hopefully a Giulietta Sprint as transport.... because we can plus a comfier selection of gears for the mother hills !!