As many as 1,000 seriously in-shape bicyclists from all over the world will take to North County and North Coast back roads during the first Eroica California ride April 11 and 12.
These riders have hamstrings of steel to match the heavy-duty tubing their older bicycles are constructed from.
Most modern, state-of-the-art bikes are made of “very light materials, such as carbon fiber and other exotic materials,” according to Wesley Hatakeyama of Paso Robles, the ride’s event director. “The lighter the bike, the faster you’ll go” because riders are pulling less weight.
His North Coast efforts include contacts with the Cambria Tourism Board.
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Registration opens Feb. 16. The ride is expected to fill up quickly.
Eroica events worldwide are restricted to bicycles manufactured from 1987 or before, with none of the technology or fancy bells and whistles on newer designs.
“In our group,” Hatakeyama said, “there’ll be bikes from the turn of the century all the way up to” the mid-1980s. “In this event, we’re looking back to the golden age of bike riding, trying to get people to enjoy real aspects of bicycling” as it was then.
“There’s a lot more physical work involved” with riding a vintage bike Hatakeyama said.
That’s especially true on narrow, steep back roads with switchbacks, ruts, gravel, dust and the risk of nasty surprises (think snakes and other wildlife).
He said Eroica rides began 1997 in Tuscany, Italy, drawing 97 riders.
According to Hatakeyama, now more than 12,000 people apply each year to ride in the Italian event that’s limited to about 5,500 cyclists.
Some other Eroica rides show similar promise, he said. The more recent United Kingdom event also started with fewer than 100 applicants, he said, “and they already have 3,000 people applying.”
Some of the rides select their riders by lottery.
Japan launched its Eroica ride in 2013. “Now it’s coming over here and going to Spain,” Hatakeyama said of the international expansion.
Hatakeyama said of the local efforts, “we’re trying to establish a permanent route that people can ride here every year. We’re trying to preserve natural beauty,” and plan to ride as much as possible on unpaved roads. Two routes, a 100K and 200K, will be included, spanning from wine country to the coast.
Eroica California is working with, and donating funds to, Hospice of San Luis Obispo County, which Hatakeyama called “a 100 percent volunteer-based hospice.”
In a test run on the route Feb. 2 and 3, seven riders pedaled along mostly back roads in the Paso Robles, Templeton, Cambria and Cayucos areas.
Hatakeyama said, “This is only Eroica event in the world with a route to the ocean. It will be very unique and will attract a lot of people. He estimates five to 10 percent of the riders will be local and the rest from out of state or even out of the country.
More about the ride
For future details about the ride, go to Facebook.com/eroicacalifornia, sign up at www.eroicacalifornia. com or contact Hatakeyama at info @eroicacalifornia.com.
He expects the ride’s website, to “go live on Monday (Feb. 16) with all the info.”