Cino Heroica (chee-no) is a celebration of the cycling days of old, when European road racing was dramatic art and racing’s hero’s were admired as much for their style as their courage. The venues were largely unpaved roads, snaking over hellish mountain passes. Racers rode handmade steel framed bikes that were built as much for style and strength as for speed. The riders drank wine and smoked Gitanes to quell their suffering. “Nutrition” was real food, like cheese, salami, and a baguette. Suffering was an art form taken to a new level by these riders, as they collapsed into the arms of their handlers at race’s end, their faces reflecting something that non-riders will never understand. But at the end of the day, it was all about style, the horrors of the struggle erased by the clink of wine glasses over dinner as the racers celebrated their day’s victories.
This year is the 10th running of Cino Heroica (pr. cheee-No He-ro-i-ka). Over two days, we ride retro bicycles over 110 miles of mostly unpaved roads in a part of Montana that hasn’t changed much in 60 years. We eat and drink like kings and queens. We suffer and bicycles break. But as each mile brings a new challenge, life has a new clarity. We don’t forget the experience.
The event started out with 7 riders, we now cap entries at 150. Riders come from all over the US. The ride is a showcase of beautiful machines from the 30’s to the 80’s with names like Cinelli, Masi, Bottechia. But this ride is only partly about the bikes. The ride is a reminder of what cycling is all about.
We ride from Kalispell to Hot Springs over an unpaved, back route. It’s about 60 miles. The roads are rural and unpaved Forest Service roads with little to no traffic. While the roads are dirt and at times rough, they are ride-able on a road bike. The retro, steel framed road bikes that we ride were meant for this challenge. We encourage folks to take their vintage machines off their pedestal, as this is an opportunity to both show them and put them to the test they were meant to take.
This is not an easy ride. 60 miles out and 50 back the next day does not sound like a lot, but it is a very challenging ride and is not one you do without being fit and armed with an inexhaustible supply of curses that will be handy when your last chainring bolt rattles loose or you face that hill after lunch with a mixture of beer and chocolate torte under your belt. Support this year will be limited. People of varying abilities manage it, and suffer accordingly. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy: We choose to do Cino this weekend not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
The climbs are mostly moderate with a challenging grade on day 2. The roads can be very rough at times. The real challenge is riding a “Heroic” bike over dirt, something we encourage you to practice beforehand.
We stay in Hot Springs for the night at Alameda’s Hot Springs Resort (http://www.alamedashotsprings.com/). They can also accommodate tent camping and most camp. Dinner will be held at Alamedas on Saturday night, with appropriate bicycle oriented entertainment afterward. Of course, there are the hot springs at Symes to soak in.
The return is a slightly different route that involves a substantial, sustained climb up a rough road. There are iron men that do it with a fixed gear and a prayer. The rest of us look at our 42×26 and contemplate long breaks and beautiful views. Look at the old grainy photos of bicycle racers in the early 1900’s: even the heros walked at times.
We ride to Hot Springs and stay there overnight. All your overnight gear is carried by van to Hot Springs. Support vehicles carry some food, tools, spare parts, riders, extra water, etc. Support is light or non-existent, meaning don’t expect the sag to be there when you get a flat. We will provide maps and directions as the course is only lightly marked. A few water stations will be strategically located along the route.
Lunch – a.k.a. “pranza” – is an elegant white tent affair halfway along the course. This year it will be catered by The Simple Chef, a local caterer specializing in locally sourced foods and unique, to-die-for menus (in past years this was a “potluck” event with rider donated food). We’d give you a hint of what the menu is, but we don’t want you drooling all over your vintage Campagnolo shifters while you ride there.
Dinner in Hot Springs is a candlelight affair. Gone are our jerseys and black shorts, replaced by suits, cocktail dresses, and silk scarves. Conversation, the popping of corks, and a setting sun provide the backdrop to dinner.
Breakfast on Sunday at a local restaurant.
Post ride gathering on Sunday: From 2pm until closing we gather at the Kila Pub. No host food, drinks, etc.
Things are flexible. For example, most but not everyone rides on Sunday. Some folks have a spouse or friend drive over to meet them, and just drive back.
Riders must be riding a Heroic bike. As we started in 2014, no grandfathering in non-heroic bikes. Click here to see what a heroic bike is.
Older steel framed racing bikes with European pedigrees encouraged. Cloth handlebar tape, Campy Record, non-anodized polished aluminum parts, leather saddles, tubular tires, frame pumps, handlebar mounted waterbottles are all coveted.
The last few years there have been a fair number of riders taking their suffering to a new level with single speeds, including fixed-gear machines. And for the truly tortured, there are those individuals showing up with Schwinn Varsity’s or Suburbans, reliving the days of pretending they were Eddy Merckx as they raced to their next college class.
For garb, we like to see wool clothing, leather shoes, hairnet helmets and white socks of course.
THE NUTS ‘N BOLTS
What: Ride from Kila, Montana (6 miles West of Kalispell) to Hot Springs…and back
Start: 9am, Sat., September 10. At the Kila school parking lot
Registration is by mail, starting NOW. Click here for details. We need your registration by 5/27 if you are a last year’s rider and want to grandfather in, or want to be in the opening lottery.
Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, (406) 862-6446, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reed Gregerson, 406-270-0590, email@example.com
Accomodations: Rooms usually go fast at Alamedas and they may be all gone by the time you read this. To reserve a room, just call and say you’re part of the Cino Heroica cycling group. They do have plenty of room to camp there and you can use their facilities for a small fee. Most camp. If Alamedas is full and you want a room, you can also contact Symes Resort.
Alamedas phone: (406) 741-2283
Symes Phone: (888) 305-3106
Yes, we will have awards, votes cast by the participants.
The White Handlebar Tape Award
Goes to that individual who most exemplifies the spirit of Cino Heroica. Heroic bike, traditional clothing, and ability to say things in Italian all are worth major points here.
Goes to that individual who displays the greatest fortitude in dealing with adversity. Show up with a single speed bike and get lost on the course and/or have several flats and you’ve got this sewn up.
First rider in on Saturday gets their dinner paid for
The ZaneRay Group, visit http://www.zaneray.com
and Glacier Cyclery , visit http://www.glaciercyclery.com