I often get “I thought Eroica was only for vintage bicycles?” … well you’d be correct that Eroica has always been about celebrating vintage cycling culture and the ways things used to be. But Eroica also looks to the future, and just like those early racers took their road bikes to gravel when they had to, so we do it now on our modern gravel bikes so many years later. NOVA is Eroica’s answer to how modern cycling can be invited to the vintage fold. Come race your modern gravel bike at NOVA Eroica!
The NOVA in South Africa is on the same day as the Classic Eroica ride, and shares the same emphasis on good fresh local food stops and the social aspect of the ride. And this is where the nice part comes in - NOVA is a race, but there are only four clearly marked timed racing sections along the approximately 90km route. Each racer will have a detailed map marked with the route, the Strava segments, food pick-up stops, picnic spots, view points and a secret swim spot or two. This means that you can plan ahead to make your day as laid back, or challenging as possible. Go hard in the race sections, and spend the rest of the day hanging out, drinking beer, swimming, and enjoying the view, all along the magnificent route.
For 2021 the NOVA route will be a little shorter than before, but judging by how many riders the original 150km route destroyed in previous years, I’m sure some will welcome the new 90km distance. The old 150km goes up the infamous Ouberg Pass and then turns north towards Touwsrivier, then west towards the top of the Koo valley for a long fast drop down the tar back to Montagu - but not before a quick sojourn into the Baden area for a last race section. In previous years this route was hard on riders. The northern most sections are very remote, and extreme heat and wind can make a tough day into a serious challenge.
But for 2021 we’ve got our new 90km NOVA route - almost no tar, and with more technical sections. And, after some negotiations with local farmers, riders will have the opportunity to traverse some truly spectacular sections on private land. These are rich and storied roads, and even though you might only be about 15km as the crow flies from Montagu at times, it feels like time has stopped in some of these valleys.
Each rider will be required to have Strava installed on their smartphones to enable us to compare their racing segment times at the end of the day. There are four clearly marked racing sections, each about 7km in distance, and the end of the last segment is a portage up the back of the dam wall of the Pietersfontein Dam for a compulsory NOVA-selfie, to be posted to your ride on Strava. Once you’re on top of the dam wall your race is over, and you can scramble down to the water for a well deserved swim, or head back to the Groenland rest stop for a couple of John’s famous gin-coolers.
With everything we’ve been through in the last year I’m sure you’re also looking forward to get back to some kind of normalcy. But we have also made sure that Eroica this year is planned with everyone's safety in mind. From the informal start - whenever you want from 07:00 to 10:00 - to the open spaces at our food and drink stops, we’re giving everyone the opportunity to make their Eroica 2021 their own event, and engage with others on a level they feel comfortable.
So come join us for NOVA Eroica 2021! Remember the NOVA will share the route with all the Classic riders too, so come check out some beautiful vintage bikes, and maybe even race someone on an old steel racing steed up a hill! It’s time to make some new memories, and to share adventure again … it’s been too long!