Nova Eroica, in search of white roads

Italian white roads, Tuscany, red wine? Does that sound good to you? Just add a spicy touch of gravel bike, dust and you’ll meet one of the most exciting cocktails. The Nova Eroica – sister of the famous Eroica – took place in Buenconvento, end of April. Where were you ?

Well, first of all! Gravel Bike ? What the hell is that ? Not really a new thing as my grandfa was riding his old ‘’colombus’’ on not so well shaped roads as we are used to do nowadays thanks to the constent increase of my tax bills.

Gravel is just a pretty cool naming, American sounding that marketers took seriously to sell me one more bike dammit, I got trapped.

Roads of Strade Bianche

Introduction’s done, let’s meet in Tuscany – Buenconvento – a few kms away from Sienna – damn finish of the Strade Bianche in a very fancy but probably very expensive Tuscanian villa with a bun of friends from SCOTT Sports.

Registered for the longest ride – 145 kms – I am now enthusiast to take part of the race. Short recon is done – understand a full day on the bike – riding the local but fantastic roads, I can’t stop riding. Dust, shreds, wheelies, my new bike does it all. While chilling with my mates with an espresso – nope red wine – we just figured out that there is not only 145kms to reach but also an inline race opened for the 150 first guys who completed the longest distance. Back to school, counting on my fingers… I am in shape… I gonna have these 36 kms more to do. Oh yeah !

7 am race starts! Peanut butter, proteins are already far in my estomac. Let’s go ! Gravel bike races are super friendly as you ride all together until the first chrono stage then the race is on… Full gaz, dust, sweat, pain… until the stage finishes then again and again for 5 stages.

I love it, going full gaz on a road bike with just an extra rubber layer on my tires…

How to race the Nova Eroica?

I hook the right wheels, not for so long, it starts to climb. I come back on the flat, Well, this is the story of the whole day… Managed to finish 4th… But hééé, do you remember that there is an extra 36 kms to do ? Just the time to stretch the ischios, find some fresh water to put inside a dusty water bottle, grab a fatty bar while waiting for the 150th guy to make the cut and here we go! 1 km is neutralized behind the race director ! Yeah only 35 kms to push watts.

I make my move to the head of the pack, chatting with the other rop ranked dudes. OK, we don’t push until the next village! 4kms later here we go!

Race is on! Every one pushes to make his way at the head. A light but consistent cross wind makes echelons, we are already all-in, my power meter goes numerous times over 4 digits. I love it! My legs don’t…

First gravel section, first climb, I am dropped ! 3 guys make their way. I collaborate a chase. I struggle in the next climb… I am dropped. Legs are empty! Time for the last shot of caffeine! It clears my mind, refresh a little bit my body… I’ve an extra kms in the tank.

I look at my Garmin, I’ve reached the maximum denivelation ! I see a gravel section on my right hand side!!! Wait the race lead took on the left ? WTF ??? I turn right, my brain is clear! I push the last watts I have, full gaz until BuenConvento. I cross the line first, I managed to take the right road… Bloody pros, ask them to pedal, they’ll forget to think… Ask them to think… well no, please don’t…

Wow, anyway I am cooked. Just the right time to hand on a local dish – gluten and dairy free – jump on the podium for a 3rd overall! Pack the gears and go back to Switzerland. What else?