How to Dress for Eroica
What is L’Eroica
L’Eroica is the most popular vintage bicycle event in the world. People from across the planet make the pilgrimage to Gaiole in Chianti every year to take part in this wonderful occasion that sees over 8,000 participants! The success of the original celebration has been so seismic that it now has other locations that take place yearly too.
For more information about what bikes can be ridden at Eroica, check out our other magazine post here.
However, in this article we will be discussing what you can wear to fit the style of Eroica events.
We’ll give you advice on what you should consider wearing at Eroica, including:
So, what should I wear at Eroica events?
The rules from the official Eroica website are very clear: modern or technical apparel is strictly prohibited. This means no lycra or clothes that give you an increased aerodynamic advantage!
The official rules state that wool clothing that is in keeping with the style of vintage racing is recommended. If any modern or technical apparel is worn, or is later discovered to have been used, then the organisers reserve the right to disqualify the offender. So enjoy the antiquity and embrace wool!
The one and only piece of modern clothing that is permitted, in fact recommended, is a helmet: although one can even find an age appropriate one! Therefore, it is very important for riders to choose their clothing understanding the temporal significance of what they are wearing.
As mentioned above, it is always advisable to wear a helmet no matter how long your ride is. But in keeping with the stylistic obligations of Eroica, you can wear a retro helmet to be like Fausto Coppi as he dominated in the 50s.
***Note from the author: Choosing a leather helmet ahead of a modern one will mean that you will look more stylish at Eroica events. But do not be ashamed of wearing a modern helmet, safety always comes before looks!
In keeping with the style of vintage cycling, choosing a cycling cap to fit snugly under your helmet is also advised. Not only do caps add to your vintage look, but they also offer a huge amount of protection from the sun and control sweat from dripping down into your eyes. These can make a huge amount of difference in the blistering Italian heat.
***Note from the author: I never wear a helmet without a cycling cap underneath, it gives you an extra layer of comfort, gives shade where required and offers a chance to make your look truly unique. Try getting a cycling cap that is the same colour or brand as your bike for the ultimate feeling of completeness.
Retro and vintage cycling jerseys are both practical and stylish - they all have pockets on the back for you to store tools, snacks or extra layers of clothing. The wool they are made from is surprisingly cooling in hotter temperatures and a great insulator when it is colder. Wool also absorbs any sweat whilst ensuring that smells don’t linger. What more could you ask for in a cycling jersey?
Finding the perfect jersey to wear for Eroica can be a challenge, but it is also one of the most exciting pieces of clothing to choose. The reason for this is that jerseys offer you a clear way to express your individuality or celebrate one of your heroes from the past. The choice will mainly come down to whether you choose to wear a Retro Jersey or a Vintage Jersey.
Retro jerseys will be newly manufactured but still be in the style of a vintage cycling team or other brand that celebrates the antiquity of vintage racing. A vintage jersey will be from the time where wool was the only material used for jerseys and will be made either for a cycling team or a specific race.
***Note from the author: Woollen cycling jerseys don’t need to be as tight as modern jerseys, so choosing the correct size is important. Retro jerseys will give you the chance to relive the past, which is totally in keeping with the ethos of Eroica, but you will experience unparalleled comfort in a retro jersey. Nevertheless, expect to sweat!
Shorts are an important item of clothing as well as acting as an extremely stylish way to highlight your outfit. Retro cycling shorts will also be made out of wool and feature padding in the area that comes into contact with the saddle, making your ride more comfortable. Some shorts will be embroidered with the logo of a manufacturer or brand on the thighs - matching your shorts and your jersey is a great way to keep that professional look!
***Note from the author: Be warned that once you wear woollen cycling shorts for the first time, you will find it very difficult to go back to any other material! They offer great levels of comfort and breathability, and are head-turningly cool. But they do keep you rather toasty too!
A good pair of cycling shoes can improve your enjoyment of Eroica events dramatically; finding a pair that have a firm sole, perforated, breathable leather whilst remaining stylish is possible! In keeping with the style of professional riders before clipless pedals were used, classic retro cycling shoes are the best choice for use at Eroica. Choosing a pair with a rigid sole will provide more than enough power transfer from each stride, but also mean that when you’re out of the saddle, you’ll walk in extreme comfort.
***Note from the author: Constant contact between your toe and the cages on your pedals can take their toll after a while, so make sure to wear shoes that have a firm area above your toes to decrease discomfort.
Gloves are often an item of clothing that cyclists tend to forget, or remember when they wish they had brought a pair with them! For Eroica rides, spending many hours with your hands grasping dearly onto your handlebars can eventually take its toll on your skin. Having a pair of breathable, comfortable yet durable gloves will definitely give you far less to complain about on your ride. The leather surface on your palms ensures grip and padding between your hands and the bars and having air vents on the back means that your hands don’t overheat in the heat.
***Note from the author: Investing in a good pair of gloves with soft leather on the palms will completely eradicate the risk of sores on your hands which can really hamper your enjoyment of longer rides!