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Vintage bicycle ride coming to Paso Robles 

L'Eroica Paso Robles

L’Eroica founder, Giancarlo Brocci, stops for a photo while bicycling Paso Robles. It wasn’t until after he bicycled the area that he selected Paso Robles as the location for the L’Eroica Vintage Bicycle Event that will benefit Hospice of San Luis Obispo.

Hospice of SLO will put on and benefit from L’Eroica

The Paso Robles City Council approved Hospice of San Luis Obispo’s request to stage L’Eroica Vintage Bicycle Event in Downtown City Park and on city streets April 10 to 12. The measure was approved by a 5-0 vote on Tuesday night.

The event, founded in Italy in 1997 to safeguard the heritage of the white roads of Tuscany, was created out of a love for cycling. The event in Italy continues, but other L’Eroica events across the world have taken place. The initial 92 riders who rode on the white roads that were in danger of being paved over, mounted bicycles made before 1987. The bikes in all L’Eroica events must be steel-frame and built before 1987 and have gear shift levers on the down tube of the frame and pedals with toe clips or fitted straps. The spirit of L’Eroica is not of a competitive race, but of a shared experience.

“I can assure you it’s a fabulous, fabulous event,” said Atascadero resident Wesley Hatakeyama, who has participated in L’Eroica in Italy.

There were, however, questions on how this will affect the city and its citizens.

L'Eroica bike ride

Supporters of L’Eroica speak to the Paso Robles City Council.

“The idea that we’re going to bring 700 to 1,000 bicycles into our city and not say it’s not going to have [negative] effect on our city [is not something I believe],” Councilman Jim Reed said. “I just see how bicyclists go through the town. Is there more we should be asking for than just your word that they’ll be on their best behavior?”

Hospice’s Events and Development Director Gracie Rey said that the streets won’t be wall to wall bicyclists and spectators as was the case for Amgen, instead the cyclists will have three routes to choose from on Sunday of the event and will go at their leisure.

Hatakeyama said that many of the riders will start their rides at 5 a.m. and along the way there will be rest stops with refreshments and beverages. “You don’t start 500 people at the same time,” he said. “It is a self-challenge. It is a very unique event.”

Rey added that a lot of the route will be on dirt and back roads so as to not impact the main roads in and around Paso Robles. Additionally, she said it will bring a lot of business to Paso Robles. She said one feature of other L’Eroica events is camping; for Paso Robles, there will be no camping, instead people will be encouraged to stay in hotels in the city with overflow going to Atascadero and San Luis Obispo. While there will be some wine and food in the park, she said the majority of the vendors will be bicycle-related. A passport to local businesses will be created to encourage event participants to visit them all.

“Cycling is going to get bigger and bigger in this community. It’s not going away. It’s coming,” Paso Robles Bicycle Stakeholders Committee Chairman Steve Fleury said. “I think [the event is] going to bring a lot of good publicity [for Paso Robles].”

L’Eroica was considering having the event in Napa, but when Hatakeyama got wind of that, he said that Paso Robles is where the event should be held. “I said, ‘you guys have to come here.’ So they decided to come over, but said they wouldn’t decided until they rode the route here,” he said. L’Eroica founder Giancarlo Brocci bicycled the area and decided that that’s where the event would be held.

The last hurdle in getting the event in Paso Robles was city council approval. All the funds raised from this event will got to Hospice of SLO, which provides non-medical end-of-life support to those in the county.