On April 10th it was my great pleasure to greet Mayor Michele Pescini of Gaiole, Italy and his entourage for the initiation of the first ever L’Eroica Bicycle Event Paso Robles. This vintage cycling event took place April 11-12. More than 600 cyclists participated, about 90% representing communities outside Paso Robles. A portion of proceeds from the event benefited Hospice of San Luis Obispo County.
L’Eroica originated in Gaiole, Italy where, today, the annual event draws more than 15,000 people. Other L’Eroica events have sprung up in Britain and Japan and a new event is planned for South Africa next year.
Paso Robles was chosen for this event because of its Mediterranean climate which is similar to the Chianti region of Italy and because of the great number of scenic biking opportunities in the area. The event provided both national and international exposure for our city and promises to be an important tourism activity in years to come.
I shared lunch with Mayor Pescini and his group, then escorted them all on tours of the Paso Robles Historical Society Museum in the downtown City Park and the Pioneer Museum on Riverside Avenue. All of our visitors were fascinated by the pioneer origins of Paso Robles and anything having to do with the “wild, wild West.” The group received gift bags and baskets from Paso Robles Main Street, the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and the Pioneer Museum. At lunch I presented Mayor Pescini with 125th Anniversary Commemorative coins. In the afternoon, after our tours, we all congregated in the grand ballroom at the Paso Robles Inn where Mayor Pescini presented me with a watercolor painting and I gave him a Paso Robles lapel pin and a flag of the city. We signed and exchanged joint proclamations of friendship between our communities and enjoyed a pleasant evening of hors d’ ouevres and local wine (which Mayor Pescini proclaimed to be excellent). Mayor Pescini invited me to visit him in Italy, an invitation I hope strongly to be able to accept at some time in the future.
The L’Eroica event and the opportunity to share cultures with a sister city was a tremendous experience for me and another feather in the cap of our city. We continue to gain stature and recognition locally, nationally and internationally.