Year of True Cycling

What do you get when you combine an awesome experience at l’Eroica with the sewage from Lancegate? The realization that cycling is the greatest sport on earth.

And if a bunch of doped up bozos can’t agree with that without sticking a needle in their arm, that’s their problem. It shouldn’t be yours or mine. So the next 12 months I’ll try to participate in the greatest cycling events on earth in what I have dubbed the “Year of True Cycling” (as opposed to “true racing” which seems to be anything but).

By great event I mean events that are simply about you, your bike and an awesome road or trail to get across. Equal parts suffering and enjoyment in the most beautiful stadium on earth – nature.

I started October 7, 2012 with the Eroica (did the pretty mild 75k version on a 1970’s Gargiulo) and I will finish it at the same event on October 6, 2013 by attempting to suffer through the full 210k on a pre-WWII steed.

What I’ll do in-between, time will tell. If you have suggestions for great road or mountain bike events, please let me know (contact info here). Some I’ve done in the past and loved, some I’ve never done but am eager to do. And some I may never have heard of until you tell me! So far I’m thinking:

  • Oct 7: l’Eroica, Chianti, Italy [report]
  • Nov 24: The Pancake Ride, Ontario, Canada [report]
  • Nov 25: Durham Roubaix, Ontario, Canada [report]
  • Nov 28: The City Loop, Ontario, Canada
  • Dec 2: To Hell and Back, Ontario, Canada
  • Feb 28-Mar 2: Grape Escape MTB Challenge, South Africa
  • March 30: Flanders Cyclosportief (140km version), Belgium
  • April 1: Flanders – old course, self-organized, Belgium
  • April 2: Dutch Mountain Classic, self-organized, Netherlands
  • April 3: pAr1s-Roubaix, self-organized, Netherlands
  • April 4: Unclaimed Land Loop, self-organized, Netherlands
  • April 6: Paris-Roubaix Cyclosportive, France
  • May 18: Almanzo 100, Minnesota, USA
  • June 2: Hetiskoerskoers, Netherlands
  • Oct 6: l’Eroica, Gaiole in Chianti, Italy

So there’s definitely room for some more. Also, if anybody has a lead on a pre-WWII bike, let me know!


I’ll also start a list of races for which there is no room this year but which I definitely want to do at some point:

  • Transpyr
  • Cape Epic
  • TransAlp
  • Tre Colli
  • Maratona dles Dolomites


Oct 16: Added Flanders & Roubaix Oct 19: Added Grape Escape MTB Challenge
Feb 14: Removed Cape Rouleur & Cape Epic (I’ll have to put those on the list for the future), added Flanders Cyclosportief, Dutch Mountain Classic, pAr1s-Roubaix & Unclaimed Land Loop
May 8: added Almanzo 100 and added list for future years

45 Responses to “Year of True Cycling”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    la marmotte. June/July

  2. paul comeau Says:

    Hey if you want to come down to Minnesota or Wisconsin… May 6 is – and then in August will be both are fun and pretty rides.

  3. gadi Says:

    I think that I’m jealous

  4. There’s one in California.

    Been wanting to do it.

    • THAT looks awesome. Separate categories for fixies, that’s insane.

      I am actually not sure I can finish this one, it looks really hard. And I get very cranky if I don’t get enough sleep, which seems a prerequisite to having any chance of finishing 508 miles in 48 hours.

  5. Jon Says:

    Gran fondo Stelvio (Mortirolo and Stelvio) 2nd June 2013

    • Good point, I need to do at least one if not more of the classic Italian Granfondos. Maybe also the Tre Colli. And I always wanted to do the Colnago Granfondo on a Colnago. Have to call my friend Ernesto to hook me up :-)

      • Jon Says:

        Wish I could have friends like Ernesto!
        I’ve ridden the Gran Fondo Prosecco before and that is also a cracker … Great scenery, challenging but not mental climbing and bottle of Prosecco included also one of the best after parties I’ve been to in Valdobiadenne.

  6. I would second la Marmotte, I did it in 2006, a truly epic unforgettable ride; it goes over the col du Glandon, Telegraph, Galibier with an option for l’Alpe d’Huez;

    Also recommend the Paris Roubaix Challenge, the amateur version of the famed cobbled classic. I’ve never done it, hopefully within the next few years;

    • Thanks! I’ll definitely do Roubaix, though probably not the Challenge but self-organized. Have done that 4-5 times now, always the highlight of the year (though maybe not this year with everything else on the calendar. I’ll toss in a self-organized Flanders too, and maybe the RetroRonde.

  7. Arjen Dijkstra Says:

    Probably the oldest in the world, since 1911(!): 235 k along eleven Frisian towns. On the so called 2nd dat of pentacost.

  8. Jarno Says:

    Hoek van Holland – Den Helder, 04 november aanstaande, langste strandrace ter wereld, en je mag in mijn wiel zitten ;-)

  9. Mark Says:

    Having started cycling in my 30’s I did my first sportive last weekend the etape pennines in the north of England (a review here – and am now planning what I can enter for next year. There are a good range of challenging sportives with great scenery in the UK should you wish to visit and risk the weather.

  10. Igor Says:

    Maratona dles Dolomites – June 30th

  11. Felipe Says:

    Brasil Ride. The only problem is it’s beyond your date limit, on 20-27 OCT 2013. Great place for your Open, though.

  12. wisey17 Says:

    Come to Australia for the Noosa Eroica! The Sunshine Coast hinterland is awesome and you can have a little holiday while you are here. Can certainly set you up with something to ride.

    • Will there be a 2013? Nothing on the site yet

      • wisey17 Says:

        Have been speaking with the organiser. There will be a 2013 event, but possibly rebranded. (Use of the word L’Eroica is something you must pay for now). Sorry, I can’t pay for your flights, but if you choose to make the trip, I’d give you a bed and a bike to use.

  13. Duncan Says:


  14. Kris Says:

    Hoi Gerard, it seems July is still open, so what about 3 days of grassland mountainbiking in Inner Mongolia?

    • That looks amazing. Have you done it?

      • Kris Says:

        Hi Gerard, yes I did it in 2011 myself as a participant, and since this year I am actually the event director of the event. It’s a good combination of sporting challenge and adventure. It is open and feasible for everyone with a basic level of endurance (3 stages, 63km, 43km and 100km). Can combine it with a trip to Beijing to make it a one-week China trip, for instance.

  15. Gary Holmes Says:

    The Nove Colli in Cesenatico Italy, May 19th 2013 – Wonderful!! Done it 4 times and I never tire of the route and city.

  16. Peter Says:

    Yungas / Death Road, Bolivia? Though it’s just downhill (60km). Very exciting!

  17. Tim Webber Says:

    If you can make your way to Australia at the end of January, the Australian Audex club puts on a fantastic weekend of cycling in the Australian “Alps”.

  18. MikeT Says:

    So are you considering a bigger project (read book) or will you track your travels in your blog?

    I was thinking it would be a great book project along the lines of Dave Bidini’s Tropic of Hockey.

  19. Roger Gurr Says:

    There seems to be a gap in your calendar toward the end of January 2013 … how about a trip to Adelaide, South Australia for the Tour Down Under for a week in the sun to open the 2012 Pro Tour year?
    The community even is on Friday 25th…we could arrange accommodation etc for youas well as introductions to local dealers if you’d like)

    • Hi Roger,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not entirely sure yet if that gap is indeed a gap or a realization I’ll also need to do some work next year :-). I think January and February will have to be limited to some events close to home, which unfortunately doesn’t quite describe Adelaide. But who knows, maybe the year after!

  20. Rodolfo Says:
    More than a race, a stage in your life. Held on one of the most beaultiful and wild places of Brazil… great challange.

    • That looks nice! It falls a bit outside of my cycling year, but since I’m making all the rules, I may as well bend them. Have to see how I can fit that in. And it looks like a great warm-up for the Ruta.

  21. DavidB Says:

    hi Gerard, the White Rose Classic has amazing scenery & the roads here are hosting the Tour in 2014. The event is in July & is in Yorkshire, UK
    Would be great to have you along

  22. tourletour Says:

    This sounds like a great idea! And so I feel compelled to suggest teh best race I have ever done, the Tour de Timor ( No date for 2013 yet, but it is a fantastic race. Short report on it on my website.

  23. Andrew53704 Says:

    we have plenty of several pre-WW2 bikes at Budget Bikes in Madison, WI. Let me know what you are looking for.

    • Hi Andrew, the big problem in pre-WWII bikes is that a) there were very few race bikes in those days and b) finding something in my size (I’m 190cm/6’3″) is tough. But if you come across something, I’m all ears.

      • Andrew53704 Says:

        Is there a way to contact you with a list of potential bikes? Could you tell me a little more about what you qualify “race” as? I have at least three to four bikes in mind, that I think are worth describing and photographing for you.

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