Congratulations to our Eroica hamper winner

Eroica Britannia is a feast of cycling and British eccentricity

Congratulations to our Eroica hamper winner

Jackie Ames was the lucky winner of our Fortnum & Mason ‘The English Essentials Hamper’ at Eroica Britannia. Jackie tells us of her family's experience at this summer's must-cycle event.

After taking part in the inaugural Eroica last year, we were champing at the bit for the registration to open this year.

We arrived on the Saturday morning, after queuing for a while – it was obviously going to be busier this time around, and we found a lovely pitch in the second camping field – nice and soft on top of long grass and buttercups.

First stop was the cycle jumble – a must for the two menfolk – and soon we had a selection of cycle jerseys, longer toeclips and a few other bits and pieces.

We met up with a friend from Andrew’s cycle club, and headed to the beer tent for a pint or two and something to eat, before browsing around the other stalls, and watching the best in show competitions – stopping of course, to pick up our moustaches from the CTC stand (strangely, there are no photos of us wearing them though!).

After having a cup of tea in the wonderful Yorkshire Tea marquee, and trying out the potting sheds, Andrew and Steve left me sitting in the sunshine - my knee had had enough - while they went to have ‘just one more look at the cycle jumble’, which meant coming back with another new frame…they do love to tinker around and build up a bike or two, or three.

Sunday was ride day and we were up and out of the tent preparing the porridge for Andrew prior to the 6am departure for the 100 mile ride.  Steve and I walked down to the start line to see him off.  The atmosphere is wonderful with the Master of Ceremonies (who had a broken arm this year!) giving a very eloquent send off to every single group – how he can think up so many different phrases I don’t know!

The local townspeople were out to watch, many of the shops and all the cafes were open – it’s fantastic.

Then it was back to the campsite, and bacon and eggs for Steve before he set out on the 30-mile ride at the later time of 9am.  Again I waved him off before wandering back to the festival via the little shops in town.  After listening to music, and chatting to other enthusiasts, I went up to the finish line to meet and greet.

It’s billed as a very ‘British’ festival – and it certainly is.  The camaraderie en route is superb, the inhabitants of the towns and villages turn out in their hundreds, to wave, cheer and encourage you and you’ll see every kind of bike on the ride".

Steve was first back and Andrew came in later – both said how fabulous the ride was again (with some difficult hills of course, it’s the Peak District after all).  For anyone who hasn’t taken part, a little about what makes the ride so different: various villages en route provide the refreshment stops – at one there will be a group of schoolchildren, all pointing you in the right direction for your bacon butty, at another you’ll be handed scones with jam and cream, cucumber sandwiches further along, and at Chatsworth House you’ll be fuelled by potted meat sandwiches, ice cream and Bakewell pudding, together with a glass of bubbly!

It’s billed as a very ‘British’ festival – and it certainly is.  The camaraderie en route is superb, the inhabitants of the towns and villages turn out in their hundreds, to wave, cheer and encourage you and you’ll see every kind of bike on the ride, including  an ordinary (penny farthing), which the chap did 30 miles on.  Everyone is in period clothing – plus fours, knitted jerseys, Lycra, and, for some of the ladies, Fifties dresses and matching shoes – even one brave soul who rides it in an old police uniform, complete with cape – he must be sweltering when he finishes.

It’s a marvellous weekend, we can’t wait to book for next year.

To add further inspiration to encourage you to join CTC next year at Eroica, have a look at our Facebook album.

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