It is possible Tom’s Eroica ride started with the challenge that came about from contemplating the over exaggeration the market demands of the bicycle. Calls for stiffer bottom brackets, stiffer head tubes, stiffer front ends. The jargon of, aero wind tunnels, and carbon anything washes over the fundamental of whether or not the bike even rides well or if the rider fairs well after the ride. It’s easy to get caught up in the technological whirlwind of advancement for advancements sake when there are fundamentals deeply rooted in cycling history. At the end of the day, these desires produce a bike what rides like brick with cork tape wrapped around the ends. And that’s just it, right? What is it we ride for if not to enjoy the very element we’re immersing ourselves in when riding.
For Tom, the value is if the bike can forgive the ground and terrain for fighting again the ride; it’s in the bikes compliance. If a bike can comply with the very elements it seeks to tackle. Thus, a challenge to test a new bike of his design that is firmly rooted in the history and ethos of his late friend Jobst Brandt.
The torch was reignited.
It was around this time where the invitation to Eroica came about. Eroica harkens back to a time when technology wasn’t so much about money and time spent on CAD and simulators but the brazing skill of the builder and their steady hand. A bike was a bike for the sake of adventure to be had over the miles we traverse and the enjoyment that would follow. This would be the proving for a new design with historical roots. Tom knew a mixed terrain ride of this nature was exactly where the inception for his new bike occurred and where it would test its mettle.
It had been since 1980, when Tom last built a bike of this nature, possibly for Eric Heiden. It seemed only fitting he bring Eric’s helmet with him for the ride.
Finally, Tom’s Helmet would be en vogue.
Most of the others on the ride came adored in classic wool above Italian frames, a few british, and almost no American frames.
Tom opted for the Coastal route, a 85mile journey with over 8500 feet of climbing, 12 miles of unpaved “roads” and some of the most scenic land in California. This route would feature some new roads to Tom- which is rare these days.
What would be a somewhat of a ride ending sidewall cut about an hour and a half into second dirt section. Tom reaching into his bag of tricks, “ I had to get clever to make something work so I cut my number in half...... Interesting way that it somehow took a photograph of the inside casing........then ended up with an additional two more mystery flats around the same area.”
One of the few American builders represented at Eroica.
Some of the rest stops offered more emotional support than nutritional.
Tom wasn’t the only builder to have fabricated their own bike specifically for Eroica. This fellow in particular opted for a few more bells and whistles than Tom’s classic. Nevertheless, Tom was impressed.
Catching up with old friends, like Mark Pringle, shown here.