How Sheffield businessmen made vintage bike festival Eroica Britannia a huge success

Eroica Britannia has been a runaway success
Eroica Britannia has been a runaway success

A vintage cycling festival organised by Sheffield-based businessmen is set to attract a record 4,500 riders and 50,000 people in only its third year.

Eroica Britannia, in Bakewell from June 17 to 19, has also attracted 180 traders and 25 major sponsors, including upmarket car firm Maserati.

Analysis by Visit Peak District found last year’s event pumped more than £3.5m into the economy – a figure set to be dwarfed this year.

Co-founder Nick Cotton, aged 39, said they were stunned by its success.

He added: “We’re really proud of it, it’s not been easy and we have worked like billy-o. But it’s ultra-rewarding.

“We tried to make it as high quality as we could with limited financial resources. It was a massive punt using our own money, we put £400,000 into it, but we were inundated by support from year one.”

Eroica is known as ‘the world’s most handsome bike ride’ – participants use pre-1987 bicycles and shun modern clothing such as lycra.

It was imported from Italy – where L’Eroica events have run for 45 years – by Nick and four friends after they fell in love with it. They negotiated a licence from the founders, staging the first one outside Italy.

Nick, director of Sheffield IT firm The Digital Exchange, added: “We went into this as cycling enthusiasts and have become event organisers, it now takes up the lion’s share of my time.

“We were subject to stringent vetting by the Italians. They came over and were blown away.”

This year’s event will feature three rides of between 30 and 100 miles featuring ‘feast stops’ showcasing food from Peak District villages.

It is not a race, Nick says.

Bakewell Showground will have bands, bars, a fairground, a country living pavilion and a Spitfire flypast.

Up to 15 per cent of riders are from overseas.