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My wife recently turned 40 and to celebrate the milestone I sacrificed my time and took her and my daughter to Montegu for the long weekend

 

Coincidentally Eroica happened to be on  - that’s my story and I’m sticking to it

 

I have some vintage steel and had planned to ride one but sanity prevailed and I entered the Nova Eroica where modern acceptable gearing and decent tread is allowed.

 

Montegu for those who have never been is absolutely gorgeous and should be on any gravel tourers bucket list with Eroica the perfect excuse to visit as if one is needed.

 

Stan Engelbrecht who organizes this “race” clearly has a rider first policy and I am so impressed with how rider focused this event is.  From the friendly greeting on registration at the Montegu country hotel to the cheerful and chatty hosts of all the feeding zones (maybe chill out stations would be a better description)

 

The scenery on the 89km route was mind blowing and the privilege of traversing private land is worth the entrance fee alone.

 

The shorter Covid affected 89km 1600 elevation route was challenging enough on a gravel bike but I have to hand it to the riders doing a lot of similar ground on vintage steel.  You can’t really get anything wider than 28mm rubber on these old bikes and that’s if you’re lucky.  My bum hurt just looking at them but they were all having a ball.  Except for the couple climbing an incredibly long and trying hill on a tandem.  It’s a look you only see at races when couples on their tandems aren’t quite in sync.  Man pushing bike with sheepish expression; lady walking behind with very unhappy face.  I have no doubt that hill would test any relationship and I’d bet apart from that section matrimonial bliss resumed thereafter.

 

The way the Nova Eroica works is that you can ride at any pace and the results are based on 4 Strava sections along the route.  I’m not on strava so sadly I was unable to collect the prize for finishing first.  Or should that read I’m not on Strava because I don’t need an APP to tell me I’m fat and slow.  The brilliance of this system is that I was able to have a catch up with Rae Trew Brown along the route enjoying a fresh smoked salmon trout roll courtesy of Two Dam sustainable farm where I will definitely be staying one day.  Rae then dashed off on the next Strava section whilst I trudled along never expecting to see him again.  He’d hammered it so hard that by plodding along I then caught up to him at the next stop whilst he recovered from his Strava effort.  We must have chatted to the locals manning the beer stop (oh yes Gin and beer along the way) for a good half hour shooting the breeze and this was to cause me some problems later.

 

My diesel engine likes to run warm, not hot, not cold and after the long stop I was a bit stiff but cruised along for a few kms with Rae and his mate,  The 3 of us eating up a few technical and fun sections on our Curves which had somehow found each other.

 

I was leading them because they needed someone who could read the lines when I started to feel a bit weird.  I had failed to take in enough water and some may say I’d had a few too many beers the night before which resulted in dehydration, a problem I have anyway without adding alcohol to the fire.  A modest climb exacerbated my problems and I was forced to pull off and have a chat to some local labourers who kindly allowed me the use of their long drop.  Top tip, travel with twin ply if you are fussy about these things,

 

I added rehydrate to my water and feeling much lighter after the evacuation I set off gaining strength with every square pedal stroke.

 

I didn’t see Rae again but that’s because I decided not to stop at what doubled up as first and last stop along the route at the Groenland and Hey Joe refreshment stop where delicious breakfast and lunch was being served, I’d stopped there earlier and perhaps if I’d taken on some breakfast and a shot of gin I wouldn’t have had to visit the poop pit later.

 

Having gotten all my stamps and taken a selfie at Pietersfontein Dam as proof of completing the course (nasty stair portage to top of dam) I made my way back to my girls who were waiting at the Montegu Hotel with a cold beer at the ready. I rewarded myself with a hearty lunch and a few more beers whilst I watched the lunatics roll in on their vintage steel mostly all dressed for the occasion.  Maybe next year I’ll build a cheapie vintage classic for this but I’ll more likely choose to roll in comfort.

 

Rae who was adjudged the winner based on the Strava segments arrived about half an hour after me.  The fat tortoise beats the skinny hare once again.  My daughter was even impressed how many skinny people I'd "beaten" At this point I should mention that the start time was anytime between 7 and 10 am and I rolled out first to ensure I didn't arrive last.  

 

This really is an extra special event that brings much needed tourism to a hard hit town whilst as a rider you are totally spoilt.  It seems to bring along some wonderful characters many of whom I met the following morning when we went for a breakfast run and tour of the towns history.  For this I pulled out my Colnago because it was on tar and for a moment joined the real heroes of the Eroica.

 

Find a way to get there next year

 

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Ha ha ha, very good Wayne! "I’m not on Strava so sadly I was unable to collect the prize for finishing first." Ha ha. 

 

I really like how your story highlights that even the fastest and slowest riders get to share the route throughout the day with the NOVA racing segment format. 

 

Thanks for taking the time to write this. So happy you enjoyed the day : )

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I saw a lot of people from behind - this happens all too often as people roll up next to me and then drop me

At least at Eroica they all slow down for a brief chat

bliksem, that was you with the pretty colnago! I was the guy who thought it was a good idea to bring the entire family to the morning ride. we made it to the ghost tour that night too, well worth it.

 

I started way late, and with the mostly vintage guys, saw very few grvale bikes along the way as it seems to be the more lycra focus. 

 

5 stars to all the stops along the way.

I was smart enough to go do the extra bit to  pietersfontein loop and then back to groenland for a 2nd opinion. I rolled into town as it was approaching darkness. riding time 6hours, total time 10ish.

 

I see you failed to mention the secret swimming spot. that is worth a writeup on it's own.,

 

Montagu rocks, the gravel is grippy and the vibe excellent. 

This event is highly recommended, mainly because it attracts the right type of people.

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bliksem, that was you with the pretty colnago! I was the guy who thought it was a good idea to bring the entire family to the morning ride. we made it to the ghost tour that night too, well worth it.

 

I started way late, and with the mostly vintage guys, saw very few grvale bikes along the way as it seems to be the more lycra focus. 

 

5 stars to all the stops along the way.

I was smart enough to go do the extra bit to  pietersfontein loop and then back to groenland for a 2nd opinion. I rolled into town as it was approaching darkness. riding time 6hours, total time 10ish.

 

I see you failed to mention the secret swimming spot. that is worth a writeup on it's own.,

 

Montagu rocks, the gravel is grippy and the vibe excellent. 

This event is highly recommended, mainly because it attracts the right type of people.

with the dog in the backpack and the two tiny tots constantly and successfully trying to drop me?

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after watching Eroica for 2 years, I then attended 2021, and had a blast!

 

I bought an inexpensive older Alpina, had Buff (brett) do some work to it, and then managed to S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E 2 x 28 Vittoria Zafira tyres onto the bike. These tyres at just R395 each, seemed very good value, and despite 3 pinch-flats (!) - i think i was a BIT 'gonzo' on 1 downhill, double-flatting... they inspired confidence - within reason, on dirt roads.

 

I 'glamped' in a tent at 'De Bos'; very affordable, and since I had not pre-booked accommodation, was nice to check in at the FIRST (and only!) place I visited for accommodation. Breakfast included, and I would definitely stay in a tent again...

 

I rode Eroica 2021 mostly with Buff (Brett), Hennie, and Neil Buckland. Worth mentioning that Neil Buckland used to beat me, by SOME margin, in EVERY Triathlon I did, so 'beating' him up just ONE hill - this I felt was a small 'victory' ;)

 

But seriously, we made a good, informal 'team' with NO ONE chomping at the bit to leave the 'pit stops' - we all drank beer, and not one of s was in a rush to get going; we ACTIVELY stretched our day out!

 

A big thanks to Brett for 2 tubes, and Neil for 1, I did have my own spare, but managed to destroy the valve, and my 'spare' spare tube, well, that was safely back in my tent! Have replaced their tubes! Thanks, gents!

 

I rode most-all of the route, clocking 89kms on my Garmin watch, but did not do the one 'dam-stairs-pic' stretch. Next time!

 

Man, it was HARD to leave those feed-stations; smoked trout sandwiches and COLD beer, versus the hard yards riding (and pushing) a bike up that ONE hill...!

 

The event was SUPERBLY organised, so a big shout out to Stan and his helpers, I could not fault anything!

 

Next year I will ensure that my easiest gear is 'easier' than a '23'; i did find that challenging on the one BIG hill, but since we all pushed a bit (I think), no harm done!

 

More as I think about it, but loved the event, and will spread the word!

Chris and the under-geared Alpina!

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Posted (edited)

after watching Eroica for 2 years, I then attended 2021, and had a blast!

 

I bought an inexpensive older Alpina, had Buff (brett) do some work to it, and then managed to S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E 2 x 28 Vittoria Zafira tyres onto the bike. These tyres at just R395 each, seemed very good value, and despite 3 pinch-flats (!) - i think i was a BIT 'gonzo' on 1 downhill, double-flatting... they inspired confidence - within reason, on dirt roads.

 

I 'glamped' in a tent at 'De Bos'; very affordable, and since I had not pre-booked accommodation, was nice to check in at the FIRST (and only!) place I visited for accommodation. Breakfast included, and I would definitely stay in a tent again...

 

I rode Eroica 2021 mostly with Buff (Brett), Hennie, and Neil Buckland. Worth mentioning that Neil Buckland used to beat me, by SOME margin, in EVERY Triathlon I did, so 'beating' him up just ONE hill - this I felt was a small 'victory' ;)

 

But seriously, we made a good, informal 'team' with NO ONE chomping at the bit to leave the 'pit stops' - we all drank beer, and not one of s was in a rush to get going; we ACTIVELY stretched our day out!

 

A big thanks to Brett for 2 tubes, and Neil for 1, I did have my own spare, but managed to destroy the valve, and my 'spare' spare tube, well, that was safely back in my tent! Have replaced their tubes! Thanks, gents!

 

I rode most-all of the route, clocking 89kms on my Garmin watch, but did not do the one 'dam-stairs-pic' stretch. Next time!

 

Man, it was HARD to leave those feed-stations; smoked trout sandwiches and COLD beer, versus the hard yards riding (and pushing) a bike up that ONE hill...!

 

The event was SUPERBLY organised, so a big shout out to Stan and his helpers, I could not fault anything!

 

Next year I will ensure that my easiest gear is 'easier' than a '23'; i did find that challenging on the one BIG hill, but since we all pushed a bit (I think), no harm done!

 

More as I think about it, but loved the event, and will spread the word!

Chris and the under-geared Alpina!

way more hardcore than my scenic and comfy tour, well done.  There were one or two MTB sections along the route and I have no doubt I would have seen my @rse on a roadbike

 

Very cool photos

 

You are lucky I left you some trout

Edited by Wayne pudding Mol
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after watching Eroica for 2 years, I then attended 2021, and had a blast!

 

I bought an inexpensive older Alpina, had Buff (brett) do some work to it, and then managed to S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E 2 x 28 Vittoria Zafira tyres onto the bike. These tyres at just R395 each, seemed very good value, and despite 3 pinch-flats (!) - i think i was a BIT 'gonzo' on 1 downhill, double-flatting... they inspired confidence - within reason, on dirt roads.

 

I 'glamped' in a tent at 'De Bos'; very affordable, and since I had not pre-booked accommodation, was nice to check in at the FIRST (and only!) place I visited for accommodation. Breakfast included, and I would definitely stay in a tent again...

 

I rode Eroica 2021 mostly with Buff (Brett), Hennie, and Neil Buckland. Worth mentioning that Neil Buckland used to beat me, by SOME margin, in EVERY Triathlon I did, so 'beating' him up just ONE hill - this I felt was a small 'victory' ;)

 

But seriously, we made a good, informal 'team' with NO ONE chomping at the bit to leave the 'pit stops' - we all drank beer, and not one of s was in a rush to get going; we ACTIVELY stretched our day out!

 

A big thanks to Brett for 2 tubes, and Neil for 1, I did have my own spare, but managed to destroy the valve, and my 'spare' spare tube, well, that was safely back in my tent! Have replaced their tubes! Thanks, gents!

 

I rode most-all of the route, clocking 89kms on my Garmin watch, but did not do the one 'dam-stairs-pic' stretch. Next time!

 

Man, it was HARD to leave those feed-stations; smoked trout sandwiches and COLD beer, versus the hard yards riding (and pushing) a bike up that ONE hill...!

 

The event was SUPERBLY organised, so a big shout out to Stan and his helpers, I could not fault anything!

 

Next year I will ensure that my easiest gear is 'easier' than a '23'; i did find that challenging on the one BIG hill, but since we all pushed a bit (I think), no harm done!

 

More as I think about it, but loved the event, and will spread the word!

Chris and the under-geared Alpina!

Look, I had a decent challenge on a reasonable gravel bike.  Chapeau to the guys on vintage steel - it must have been a bugger!

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