Race with vintage twist rides back to the Peaks

The Eroica Britannia cycle ride through the Peak District in 2014. Picture by Thom Heald
The Eroica Britannia cycle ride through the Peak District in 2014. Picture by Thom Heald
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Around 30,000 festivalgoers and 3,000 cyclists are heading for the Peak District for the return of Eroica Britannia - the celebration of vintage lifestyle and cycling which is back in Bakewell next week.

Three miles of bunting, two miles of lighting, 300 deck chairs and 2,000 straw bales are just a fraction of what organisers will need to put on this year’s event, which opens next Friday with the start of a three-day festival on the Bakewell Showground.

The cycling then takes place over the following two days, with a family ride on the Saturday followed on Sunday by a choice of 30, 55 or 100-mile routes around the Peaks - all completed by riders wearing flamboyant vintage outfits on pre-1987 road bikes.

The ride sold out in just over three months, and has attracted participants from more than 50 countries, including France, Italy, America, China and Australia.

The festival site has grown by a third in response to demand, with a small entry charge introduced this year to cover costs.

Attractions include hundreds of stalls offering vintage clothes, trinkets and collectibles, as well as a dedicated food festival and live music.

Families can enjoy a ‘vintage sports day’, a beach area and a traditional fairground featuring a helter skelter and a steam-powered carousel.

Fans of the arts are catered for too with an outdoor cinema, while This Is England director Shane Meadows and Mark Herbert, head of Sheffield’s Warp Films, will take part in a live discussion.

Chef Oliver Rowe - star of BBC Two’s The Urban Chef - is cooking up a feast made with local produce in aid of the Movember foundation.

Organiser Nick Cotton said the festival was in a ‘unique position’ compared to other events across the country.

“Our riders, their friends and family give us a core festival audience in addition to the tens of thousands of festivalgoers,” he said.

“The international attraction that Eroica Britannia brings to the area gives the chance for a vibrant showcase of local brands, accommodation, businesses and of course the natural beauty of the Peak District. We are delighted with the international reach we have achieved in only our second year.”

Nick added the cycling was ‘just one part of the festival’.

“We’ve expanded ideas that we’ve been working on for many months,” he said.

“Even if you have never ridden a bicycle in your life, our festival will be an inspirational, fun-packed weekend.”

L’Eroica - ‘The Heroic’ - has been held every year since 1997 on the roads of Tuscany. It was brought to the Peaks by a group of businessmen, including Nick and Gian Bohan, of Nonna’s on Ecclesall Road.

Cyclists will travel between villages in the Peaks, admiring the views and tucking into spreads of food and drink. Entrants this year include top professional cyclist Malcolm Elliott.

Three-day tickets are £10, advance online purchase only, or £5 per day on the door. Children under 12 go free. Camping £60 for three nights, advance purchase only. Prizes are given out for the best-dressed family andfestival visitor.

n Visit www.eroicabritannia.co.uk for more details.