I'd seen the pictures for L'Eroica (the Tuscan version) and I guess in a way it was love at first site. I'm not a roady but I love Italy, I love food (and wine) and love biking. When they announced that it was coming to the UK, even better to the Peak District, I was hooked. I was one of the first 500 to sign up and despite missing out on a lovely bike just before Christmas I eventually found my stead.
It had to be a Raleigh, as much as I had poured over some beautiful bikes, I think I'd set my mind on a Raleigh. It's a British event so I should ride a British bike. The problem is I'm not actually sure what model it is, but to me its is the epitome of an English working mans racing bike which I think means taking an ordinary looking steel framed touring bike and turning the handle bars upside down to make it look like a club racer. My best guess is something similar to the Raleigh Superb probably made in Lenton, with the serial number dating it old enough for a bus pass.
I bought it for £20 of Gumtree and apart from replacing the rather worn inner tubes, brake cables and bar tape i haven't touched it. Most things work despite living in a leaky shed for 50 years. I have taken it on a few rides and on the straight it rolls just fine, the steering is a little tetchy and the gears may not be quite low enough for all the hills, especially as the reversed north road handlebars make it almost impossible to get out of the saddle, but it's going to be the brakes that cause me the most headaches. Emergency stops are not possible compared to modern discs, and long descents (Middleton incline here we come) may require a reassuring foot down.
I'm planning on doing the 55 mile route which should be challenging on the bike I've chosen but not so long to turn it into a 13 hour suffer fest that I think the 100 mile would of been.
90km - route
I hope it gives me a bit more time to appreciate the event, meet some new friends and allow time for a beer at the end.
l'Eroica Britannia website
Raliegh Bike History
Grifter - circa 79
Weekender - circa 87
Superb - circa 53