I’ve been riding bicycles for quite some time. I started riding when I was 8 years old and have always been fond of the activity, falling slightly in and out of love with cycling across the years. Though I think finally I’ve fallen head over heels for bicycles, no doubt thanks to Eroica CC South Africa.
There is something very pure about cycling, it is such a simple activity that has for the most part not changed since around 1900 or so. People pedal to move great distances, often for no reason other than the grit and sense of accomplishment felt at the destination, the Tour de France famously has been running since 1903, and for a good while in the beginning there wasn’t really any reason to do it other than said sense of accomplishment. The Tour de France however is not something anyone can just do, it requires training to an almost inhuman scale and suffering beyond the comprehension of most mere mortals, so where do us mortals look? (Especially in South Africa)
As it turns out, not very far – we can look to Montagu for Eroica CC South Africa. Truly this is an event which embodies everything which I believe cycling to be* – tough and fun, almost meaningless, but seriously rewarding, and most importantly accessible and basic. There’s nothing fancy going on here, it’s people on bicycles having a long day out in the sun to feel good about the beers they’ll drink afterwards. Steel road bikes have a certain charm, they humble even the best modern rider, old gear ratios certainly make life much tougher than new ones, slick 23mm (or maybe 28mm if you’re lucky) wide tires over gravel roads really grounds the rider and forces a very careful approach if you want to avoid punctures.
The ride of course comes complete with beautiful scenery, access to usually private farm roads and amazing food stops along the way, and to top it all off it is essentially a “pick your own adventure” ride where each rider can customise their route and ride to their hearts’ desire. Really though what Stan Engelbrecht has managed with the South African edition of Eroica CC is breathtaking and I’m sure I’m not alone to have fallen in love with cycling again thanks to this incredible bicycle ride.
For context here I’ve grown up on bicycles since I was 8 or 9, doing races on-off since I was 12, I’ve been watching pro-cycling for almost as long, Andy Schleck was my absolute hero – seeing him climb the Alps with such ease, Burry Stander, a South African mountain biking legend whose life was taken far too soon still holds a firm place in my heart.