The opportunity to cycle parts of Italy in an annual cycling event, L’Eroica has given Barossa Mayor Michael “Bim” Lange the inspiration to build on something similar for the Barossa.
Together with some of his cycling colleagues from last year’s Tour de Legacy, Mr Lange participated in the 80 kilometre trek of the “gateway” to the myth of L’Eroica.
The annual cycling event has been running since 1997 and the theme is vintage cycling with participants using vintage bikes, accessories, clothing with the route encompassing unpaved roads.
“This one in Italy is really big and it goes back to the early days of cycle racing,” said Mr Lange.
“You can’t have modern carbon bikes, or gears on the frame, you can’t wear lycra… I had to wear an old woollen jersey and you can’t have clips on the pedals.”
It attracted more than 8,000 riders and Mr Lange said he couldn’t believe the greater support the event received from the towns.
“It was huge… I couldn’t believe it,” said Mr Lange.
“The whole town, for four days, was filled with people, visitors… food and wine took over the whole town.”
Mr Lange references the white gravel ground they cycled on and recalls a few times in the trek where he had to get off the bike and walk it due to the steepness of the trail.
“It was a very interesting experience to ride an old bike, on gravel roads with narrow tyres,” said Mr Lange.
“It was eye opening to me and it was an event that attracted people from all over the world and I see an opportunity to use some of our white gravel roads and potentially have an event in the Barossa.”
Mr Lange is already in early discussions with cycling experts on the potential track that could be used.
“I really enjoyed seeing this event come together to the magnitude that it did and a whole community come together in what was a really top event,” said Mr Lange.
“I see opportunity for this starting here in the Barossa and use existing cycling clubs and professional expertise and see what interest there is from some of the local businesses.
“We are always looking for events that bring visitors to the region… it would build on the brand Barossa.”
When it comes to the event itself, Mr Lange, who funded the trip himself, said his skills were put to the test as he combined an old style bike coupled with different road surfaces.
“I really do appreciate where we are today,” said Mr Lange of the improvements to cycling.