Eroica California is a yearly festival that celebrates antique and vintage bikes and cycling culture. Centered in Paso Robles, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the weekend features a festival with various cycling art installations, a vintage swap meet, a bike show, and a strong showing of vendors and cycling services on site, all devoted to the spirit and passion of vintage bicycle culture.
The celebration centers on the rides held on Sunday morning. Participants gather to venture on the days adventure throughout the valleys and hills of the central coast. With four different routes, there is a wide selection of local destinations, roads and trails to explore. And with all of the automobile-shared roads signed off and marked to traffic, busier intersections with off-duty police officers directing traffic, the safety is ensured compared to solo excursions during other times of the year. That’s worth the ticket price in and of itself.
Cycling Time Travel
Part of the magic of Eroica comes from the limitations put on participants, requiring vintage (or vintage inspired) bikes that must meet certain requirements. Down-tube shifters, toe-clips and rim brakes are all required. Paired with limitations on the machine, participants must also dress the part. Wool and vintage lycra jerseys were standard, with leather lace-ups ubiquitous. Helmet modernity is allowed, but some avoid the safety convention entirely, embracing the spirit of the adventure.
The rides were staggered throughout the morning with the first group leaving at 6:30AM under partly cloudy skies and 38 F air temperatures. The cool morning added adventure to the day, but warmed to an idillic 65 F by mid-day. The mechanical and apparel limitations created a camaraderie that was pervasive throughout the starting area. Strangers at the starting line become friends by the finish.