Taking advantage of our visit to the 3T Cycling factory in Bergamo last September, we had the opportunity to participate in one of the most emblematic events on the gravel scene: the Jeroboam Franciacorta. A few years ago and from the hands of 3T took place the first event of what we now recognize as the Jeroboam Gravel Series, a set of races organized around the world and held in order to spread the spirit of adventure, take on new challenges, and discover authentic natural landscapes.
Despite having several options, we opted for the 150 km route in which we climbed steep mountains, crossed deep forests, and got lost among endless vineyards. Thus, we took a specially designed tour to discover the area, which is known for its sparkling wine.
Jeroboam, the 300 cc bottle
When the organizers decided to give life to this project, they tried to find a name that would refer to the areas through which the route passed and that would reflect the greatness of the event. Jeroboam is the name given to a 300 cc bottle, which is equivalent to four normal bottles of wine, and this name fits them perfectly to baptize this fantastic event.
From this idea comes the distance to be covered in the main event and in each one of its shorter versions. Depending on the challenge that you want to face, there are several routes: the Jeroboam 300 km, the Magnum 150 km, and the Standard 75 km, offering the perfect mix between physical challenge and fun on a bicycle to be able to discover and experience the proposed gravel routes of the area. Also, in the spirit of making it suitable for everyone, there is also the Demi 37.5 km designed for cyclists of all ages and families.
Jeroboam Franciacorta 2021
We participated in the Franciacorta 2021 edition, based in the Italian village of Erbosco. It is not just a race, but a whole festival around gravel. In this way, on Friday, when we went to sign up and get our number, we were able to walk through the sponsors’ stands, the area for riders and visitors, and participate in interviews and the pre-race dinner.
On Saturday morning we put on our cleats and got ready to face the 150 km and 3,000 m of elevation gain of the Magnum route. Having previously visited the 3T factory and thanks to its proximity to the event, they invited us to test one of the two 3T Exploro RaceMax prototypes made in Italy. We raced together with Enrique Romero, one of the main engineers at 3T, who raced with the 60th-anniversary limited edition, and we were ready to start.
Even if we began at the back at the start, we were able to catch up with a large group and gain a few positions after a strong acceleration. The gravel tracks along which we bordered the vineyards were very rocky, so it was difficult to pick up the pace. However, at km 17 there was a problem with Enrique’s derailleur that we were able to repair after removing both the derailleur and the chain.
Upon reaching the first checkpoint, one of the highlights of the day awaited us. A 10 km climb with a gain of 1,000 m. After overtaking a few riders who were pushing their bike, we reached the ‘Corna di Sonclino’ and switched to the other valley, suddenly being surrounded by a misty impressive landscape.
We had already covered the first 50 km and our legs were starting to feel tired after trying to maintain a high pace. Even if we were not in the lead, we wanted to recover as many positions as possible. After a descent and joining a wide road, we began to climb again and we had to push the bike due to the difficulty and grade of the terrain. The day was characterized by this changing terrain that was not easy and consisted of demanding slopes.
Next, we went back down another valley and faced the route towards one of the last ascents, half asphalt, half gravel. Before reaching the second checkpoint we crossed a mine area with some other ‘surprises’.
The last 50 km were rather flat and you could ride very fast. When we crossed Brescia and a bike path area between meadows and vineyards we only had 10 km left, but these were again on rocky paths. Around 5:30 pm we reached the finish line. Tired after the route, all we could think about was the piece of pizza that we would eat once we got off the bike.
Undoubtedly, Jeroboam is an event worthy of its reputation that, despite having two-thirds of asphalt and the rest of gravel, single-track, or trail, was not easy. Regarding the 3T bikes, we only have positive comments since they allowed us to ride fast on the flat parts and at the same time enjoy the technical descents between rocks, true tools designed for any terrain.