I’m not sure what pushes me to immerse myself in the magic of L’Eroica every year. My infatuation has developed into true love in a very short time. Since discovering this parallel world, this slow passage of time, the exact opposite of the liquid speed of real life, I don’t even mind that I cannot get mobile phone coverage in that small corner of cycling history that is Gaiole in Chianti.
Giancarlo Brocci has undoubtedly created a miracle and this miracle has multiplied and spread horizontally around the world and vertically through time, covering 22 years of human stories, numerous tales, people passing through the Chianti region, bikes coming back to life to travel the white road for hours and hours, hail, rain or shine, but without haste.
And among all of these stories that come and go, there are the women, hundreds of them, from all over the world. I could have chosen any of them; each story is worth telling. But at 4:30 in the morning on 7 October, the stories found me. The women I met are heroic in their daily lives and, in the fatigue and conquest that unfolds on the white roads of the five routes of L’Eroica Gaiole, they relive their own conquests as women, mothers and professionals.
Unstoppable Mara, an Eroica mum: her conquest was adopting a daughter, after a long and tiring wait. Her blond plaits, lovely Colnago jersey, white sunglasses and red bike, number 6572, Mara reached the finish line before 3 in the afternoon, said her goodbyes with an amazing smile and went back home to her lovely Lissed.
Mariateresa, the “Bicycle Thief”. Journalist and fan of the cycling world, as well as riding with the number 1036, she proposed l’Eroica, Gaiole in Chianti as a candidate for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. We asked her why and her answer was that l’Eroica is “an expression of human creativity that should be handed down from generation to generation, it must be supported by actions and safeguarded by a community in harmony with the environment and its history.”
Cristina, l’Eroica who challenges life: when I saw Cristina with the number 1346 on her jersey, in the dark before the last street lights went out in the square where the heroes were setting off, I could not have imagined her story. Cristina has to face the most difficult Eroica, the toughest challenge, of her life. She has been given a heavy burden to bear: the knowledge that her life will not be as long as that of others. In L’Eroica, Cristina has found a way to enjoy the little things, to test her own limits and keep pedalling, metre by metre, even when the dust gets up your nose, the rain pelts your face and the climbs are agony.
These are the heroic women of Gaiole.
See you in Montalcino in May!