One of the classic events in the world of cycling is Italy’s L’Eroica. Each October, more than 3,000 riders converge on Chianti to ride exclusively pre-1987 bicycles on exclusively unpaved roads through villages that are architecturally frozen in time. The event offers distances from 38km to 205km.
This year, Seattle’s Bob Freeman (of famed Elliot Bay Cycles) took his recently restored Cinelli and had a ball. He rode Ghisallo wood rims, one of a minority to do so.
He was fortunate to meet the maker of his hoops, Giovanni Cermenati who, despite having entered his 80’s, makes wood rims from dawn to dusk.
Like most Italian gatherings, both sport and gastronomy are featured.
The crowd hails from the entire World but is mostly Italian.
Here is Bob’s description of riding the full distance and three more weeks of touring on these remarkable wood rims:
The wheels were very smooth and forgiving. I must have built them a little soft as I had to tighten them up after awhile there as they were plinking on me and I was worried about breaking spokes, but I never did. Just trued them on the bike, with pretty good success. For tires I used Veloflex Roubaix which held up remarkably well. I expected a flat or two and carried spares but never had to put one on the whole three weeks. We did a lot of rides besides L’Eroica. I have another set of wheels with Tufo Diamond 30 CX tires, and they are a lot tougher, but they don’t ride as nice and I’m glad I stuck to my guns and used the Veloflex. I did see a few other sets of wood rims, but mostly vintage ones on old single speeds. I think most people would be afraid to try them on the big ride, but I would not hesitate to do it again.
Here’s hoping many of us have such an amazing experience: riding L’Eroica on wood rims.