The Cambrian

Eroica California picks Cambria as its new home base for the annual vintage bicycle ride

Eroica California is moving its home base from Paso Robles to Cambria.  Here, the 2016 event takes over City Park in Paso.
Eroica California is moving its home base from Paso Robles to Cambria. Here, the 2016 event takes over City Park in Paso. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

An international ride on historical-era bicycles has moved its 2019 home base to Cambria.

Since 2015, the annual Eroica California has started and finished in Paso Robles. Eroica organizers said Sept. 24 they made the change to better provide what their more than 1,200 riders from 35 different countries would expect from a California event: Spending more time by the ocean.

Most of the Eroica California ride will be on graveled North Coast and North County back roads. The base location is expected to be the southern field area at Oceanpoint Ranch.

The routes will include hills, spiraling curves and narrow bumpy roads, sometimes all at once, along with spectacular scenery from Cambria and Cayucos to Templeton and Paso Robles and lots of (often rugged) byways in between.

“There are vineyards here, similar to those in Tuscany,” Polito said, along with forests, ocean views, farms, ranches and wide-open terrain, plus the possibility of widely varied temperatures and weather conditions.

Eroica California 2019 includes four concurrent rides of different lengths: 40, 60, 87 and 125 miles. Organizers say no road closures are anticipated because riders leave the home base in small groups, just as they would for a bike club ride or other gathering of cyclists. Most departures would happen approximately every 10 minutes between 5 and 9 a.m.

09-24-18 Eroica c.jpg
From left, Aaron Linn of Cambria, Amadeo Polito of Italy and Wesley Hatakeyama of Paso Robles are planning for the historical-bicycle Eroica California ride that could bring more than 1,300 cyclists to Cambria in April. Cambria is now the home base for the California edition of the international rides that happen all around the world every year. Kathe Tanner ktanner@thetribunenews.com

The move

The move to Cambria is being coordinated by Linn, Eroica California’s Amadeo Polito of Italy and Wesley Hatakeyama of Paso Robles. It is Hatakeyama, a retired international-level horse trainer, former rodeo participant and cyclist, who is credited with founding Eroica California after he retired from the equine world five years ago and returned to the sport.

Eroica is not a race, according to the men, it’s a ride, an experience, a flashback to how the sport of bicycling used to be before the advent of carbon-framed, multi-speed cycles, sport drinks and Spandex attire.

“Riders are challenging themselves, not each other,” Linn said. “Our riders enjoy the landscape, and they love really great local food.”

They said they want to involve the entire community in the Cambria event, which will be focused on April 5-7, but could encompass six or seven days in all. The schedule could include a festival, vintage bike market, music and a Nova ride of time-trial and more leisurely segments, in which riders can use all types of bicycles, and other events.

The Cambria Tourism Board, San Simeon Tourism Alliance and Visitor Alliance of Cayucos recently allocated $20,000, $10,000 and $15,000, respectively, to help promote the mid-April Eroica ride that could bring to the area between 1,200 and 1,500 riders plus family members and support staff.

Most of those funds will help finance a professional video highlighting the Cambria area and the expected Eroica ride events April 5-7, according to Aaron Linn, a cycling enthusiast and Cambria businessman who is the business representative to the North Coast Advisory Council.

What is Eroica?

Eroica riders tend to be different from participants in other bicycle rides and races, the men said.

“Many of them ride in all 10 of the Eroica rides every year, all around the world,” Linn said.

About 77 percent of Eroica cyclists are between the ages of 40 and 65, with some riders older than that, according to organizers.

“They’re friendly, nice people,” said Polito, a graduate engineer and former model for Bianchi bicycles who turned pro cycling guide, consultant and now international coordinator of Eroica events. “So many PhDs, college professors and doctors” among them.

Participation in the Eroica California race has risen from 670 in the premiere year of 2015 to 1,300 in 2018. Worldwide, more than 16,000 cyclists rode Eroica in 2017, they said.

This year’s Eroica events worldwide included rides in California, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, South Africa and Spain, plus four rides in various Italian communities.

Eroica, which means heroic or hero in Italian, is about historical and vintage bicycles being ridden on “great roads with almost no cars in a beautiful landscape, excellent rest stops … and the Concours d’Elegance with precious collectors’ bicycles,” according to the Eroica website.

The organizers said the ride’s genesis was forged from memories of the fun and challenges of old-time rides and races on gravel roads, on sturdy bikes with few gears, if any, and nearly always with heavy steel frames. A desire to help preserve the only remaining gravel roads in Tuscany also was a factor for holding the ride.

Polito and Hatakeyama said Eroica is about taking time to enjoy the scenery, local flavors and traditions and the camaraderie of other riders.

Some funds raised by the ride will be donated to the Cancer Society of the Central Coast and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

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