What you'll read and see through these imagese is a little stolen piece of history. The Eroica is one of the most beautiful competitions among the other Italian historical ones which take place among the Tuscan hills. Seventy-five kilometres on vintage bycycles, dressed up for the event, every single soul exuding an old time glory.
“Personally, mountains taught me one thing: you can’t go anywere from a peak, you can only go down. A big lesson: going down, going back to the essentials, back to the origins. A lesson on the peaks of life: success, money, power, victories. The ones who reach these peaks someday will have to leave them.”
These aren’t my words, but Mauro Corona’s. Mauro Corona is one of those people I’d want to meet at the bar in the evening, when it’s cold outside and everyone’s at home, overwhelmed by the comfort of a soft sofa. A mountaineer, sculptor, and writer, Mauro tagged along with me in my journey to the Eroica with a small, but great book called La Montagna (The Mountain). It haa 95 pages of inspiration, admiration, respect, and teachings. In those words I found myself and it wasn’t difficult to understand how a lot of those words could easily tell about the destination of our journey—my journey, Marco’s, Andrea’s, Rolland’s, Alice’s, Mauri’s, and Alberto’s.
The Eroica is a bycicle ride through the white streets of Chianti, a vintage bike ride were the bicycles have to be assembled before 1987.
A jump in the past—to the beginnings, the revenge of steel on lightweight materials, a return to what cycling represented for many years, the heroic cycling of Gino, Fausto, Alfredo, Fiorenzo, the one that made Italy but divided it in two because of the war.
It was a cycling activity made of mountains, the Stelvio, the Galibier, and the Izoard. It was made of effort and hope, and dreams of people who saw in the bike riders the revenge on suffering. Cycling and the mountain, both were metaphors of life and a lot wrote about them: poets, journalists, writers, and now, it’s my turn. It may sound a bit presumptuous maybe, but I do so with my heart in my hand, and my eyes at those days with my friends.
Here’s how a country of 1,200 families turns into one big family made of more then 4000 people who, in those first days of October, caress the country with their bikes, surrounding it, as if wanting to protect and cheer up it, sometimes with the help of what comes alive in those hills.
There’s Amerigo dancing with Alice, telling us about his somewhat funny and happy past. So I stop to talk to a man who could be my grandfather; our eyes meet and we talk about this sick Italy, about his youth and my sadness. We don’t exchange e-mails, and probably we will never see each other. Now, my wine is over. The departure keeps us together. I look around, and the Bartali writing on metal hearten me, the 75 kms go through the climb, dust, and admiration. The sun is with us, we hope for no punctures, we suffer a bit, but we’re rewarded by the food and our friend’s smiles. Here are the hills, the demi-johns, the peak, and the road. Here is the finishing line.
And then, here’s the sunset keeping us company as we go home. Suddenly, I go back and think about those days and the wealth they gave me.
Thanks to Lomography, Mauro Corona and William Fitzsimmons. And also, my friends.