Eroica Britannia

We have just got back from spending the weekend at the Eroica Britannia held near Buxton in Derbyshire. The three-day event is a celebration of classic bicycles, pre 1987, and all things retro-cycling.

Tandem preparationWe went up to the event on Friday and as it is only about 1.5 – 2 hour drive from home we were there by mid-morning. We chose not to camp at the festival site as we thought this was rather expensive and so were on a quite site up the road a bit (much cheaper). When we first booked a few months ago my husband said it would be 3 miles to the festival site. As the event approached the 3 became 4 miles but in the eventuality it turned out to be 5+ miles with a couple of steep hills to contend with on the way!

Friday was also Day 7 of our ‘7 Days of Cycling’ challenge so we needed to get a ride in.  We had taken our tandem as well as our classic bikes and used this to pedal down to the festival and back in order to register for the Sunday Classic Bike ride. This proved to be quite a tough ride! The photo shows my husband preparing the tandem. We spent a couple of hours having a quick look round before pedalling back. We just got back before it rained.

It rained off and on all night and much of Saturday morning but cleared by late morning so off we went again on the tandem to enjoy the festival. It was a cool day though I soon warmed up on the hilly route down to the festival site. The steep hills on this route were beginning to worry me that I might not manage the classic ride we had signed up for. There were three to choose from: 100 miles, 60 miles and 30 miles. We had registered for the 30 mile ride but even so I was anticipating continuous steep hill climbs and I’m not over fond of hills. Once we were at the festival there was much to see, stalls with bike bits, whole bikes, craft stalls, best in show competitions for bikes, fancy dress etc. and a fun-fair to name but a few. There were so many bikes around and so much going on that I completely forgot to take any photos, I even missed the penny farthings. We returned to the motorhome in the late afternoon and had no sooner got the tandem on its bike rack when it began to rain again.

At the start of the Classic ride

At the start of the Classic ride

Once more it rained intermittently overnight. We had an early start in the morning as we needed to cycle up hill and down dale yet again to get to the event ready for a 9.30 ride start (the longer routes started even earlier). I was having cold feet and finding the route to the festival really tough! Once we were underway however I found the ride, while not easy, not as tough as I had feared, but it was definitely a challenge. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t the only one by a long way that got off and walked up some of the steeper hills, even some of the men got off and walked before I did. There was also far more of the ride on gravelly tracks than we had expected (we knew there would be some) and this makes for some challenging conditions as the tyres slide away from you over the stones. A fair bit of walking was done on these bits too.

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Half way round there was an extremely well organised lunch stop, complete with an excellent brass band to entertain us and a free packed lunch with loads of water, beer, iced coffee, fruit drinks or whatever you fancied to choose from to drink. At the finish we were greeted with our names announced over loudspeakers to clapping from the spectators and yet more bottles of water to rehydrate us. We got our ‘Road Books’ stamped up, (having collected stamps at the start and the lunch stop) and were also rewarded with a free beer. As I don’t usually drink beer I gave mine to my son on our return home.

This was a very well organised event with a very friendly atmosphere. We did our good turns along the way by lending an Allen Key to one chap to fix his wobbly saddle and a bicycle pump to another chap who needed to mend a puncture and I’m sure many others did similar good turns. It was not an overly warm day and although most people dressed up in era style clothing the effect was slightly lost due to the need to wrap up warm, but there were some in ‘fancy dress’ or tweeds and brogues and ladies in 1920’s style dresses braving the cool weather. We, of course, still had our taxing 5+ miles back to our motorhome to contend with. The rain had managed to stay away during the ride but once more returned just as we were putting the bikes back on the bike rack. We were cold and tired and welcomed a restful evening with the heater on!

This was the first time we have done this event and we thoroughly enjoyed it although we are not at this stage sure if we will do it again. Even my husband found it quite challenging, having to use his angina ‘puffer’ rather more frequently than usual, but it is great to be able to say we did it. Next weekend we are off again on another cycling adventure. This time to the York Rally, a much less taxing event we understand. I’ll let you know how we get on.

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jules
    Jun 18, 2018 @ 20:45:10

    Really wonderful that you had such a grand time. I know it isn’t something I can do.
    Though I did get my hubby to put air in my bike tires and he even fixed a brake he thought was loose. But it is too hot to take it out this afternoon. Maybe if it cools down a bit before dusk I try a lap or two around my block 😉

    Reply

    • Libby
      Jun 19, 2018 @ 18:54:06

      We try to go out early if it is going to be hot. I don’t usually do quite as much as we have done this past 9 days – all due to the challenge! Average of 10-15 miles and maybe 2-3 outings per week is more normal, avoiding rainy days too!

      Reply

  2. elaine patricia
    Jun 19, 2018 @ 17:57:08

    Well done. My friend Samantha Henthorn has written a book called 1962 which is about cycling. I shall tell her about your post.

    Reply

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