Monday, October 5, 2009

My Gran Fondo

If you are a regular visitor to my humble little blog, then you've been "hearing" about Levi's Gran Fondo for months. Well, on Saturday it was finally here. Now was the time to quit talking about it, quit training for it and just enjoy the pleasure of riding it with 3,500 other crazy cyclist from across the United States and around the world.

Training for the Gran Fondo was interesting to say the least because I provided Coach Tim with a bit of a challenge. You see, I was in France from September 10th through the 28th. This should have been a time when I was doing my final hard rides and then starting my taper. Instead, I was gorging myself with French wine, cheese and croissants. It would be interesting to see how well this particular training plan worked in the end.

Friday night was registration so I head down to the festivities. I cannot say enough about how smoothly the organizers and volunteers ran this event. Registration was quick and easy. Everything that I pre-ordered was in my packet along with all kinds of cool swag. As I wondered around the tents checking out all of the bike stuff, I ran into many friends. Eventually, a group of us decided to cough up $10 for the pasta feed and ate while the Triplets of Belleville was showing on the big screen.

Saturday, the big day, dawns bright and clear. It is going to be a very windy but a near perfect day for this ride. A couple of friends meet at my house and we ride over to the start while picking up a few more friends along the way. As soon as we arrive you can feel the excitement. Once again, we hang around, this time hoping to spot the pro riders joining us, and then it is off to the starting line.

We decide to start a little closer to the front hoping to hit open road a little faster. As we are waiting and chatting more riders start to arrive. And then more. And then even more. I am not sure how to describe 3,500 people all waiting to start the ride. As they were making the final announcements, which no-one could hear because of the helicopter overhead, everyone was relaxed and focused.

Then we're off. The Fitness Journal team set up a double line and rode at a decent clip along the closed roads of Santa Rosa. After a few miles, cyclists were stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions. We rode strong as a group through Occidental, then Monte Rio and finally to the rest stop in Cazadero. This is just before the turn onto King Ridge Road where the climbing really started. We all climbed within ourselves and reached the first summit with little difficulties.

The rest of King Ridge was simply gorgeous. I've talked about it before but it still amazes me on every ride. On Saturday, it was miles and miles of vistas being enjoyed by miles and miles of cyclists. The descent down Myers Grade and the ride along the coast was breath-taking. From the coast it was up and over Coleman Valley, a road featured in the 2006 Tour of California, and then we retraced wheels back home.

It was an awesome ride. Even the strong cross winds did not detract from the day. I did have to deal with some serious, and I mean serious, cramping issues between miles 60 - 85, which included the Coleman Valley climb. However, I proudly persevered, eventually caught up with my fellow FJ-ers (a special thanks to Pat for flatting), and we all came across the finish line together. The post ride meal and festivities were scrumptious. I am already looking forward to next year.

So there you have it. A phenomenal event that lived up to the hype. And what about my "wine and cheese" training plan? Well, while the cramps did detract from the ride for a short time I'll gladly trade 2 weeks in France for a couple hours of painful riding any day. In the end, I think I still came out ahead.


1 Comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Found this while going though my photos - I think this is Lee:

send e-mail if you want the whole file.

Good to hear the cramp let you get home on your own power.