GranFondo - View Of The Coast - ©Image Copyright Randy Ruhlman
Imagine a ride over the rolling hills of California, nestled between the vineyards of Sonoma County and along steep cliffs, as you ride your way towards the waves of the Pacific Ocean. On the first weekend of October, avid cyclists did just that, as over 7,500 riders descended on the town of Santa Rosa, California (just north of that mythic city of San Francisco) for the third annual Levi’s GranFondo Ride. Along with Levi Leipheimer and these thousands of cyclists, many other professional cyclists and celebrities gathered to ride and have a great time with all the proceeds going to charity.
Levi's GranFondo 2011 - Image ©Copyright Randy Ruhlman
The charity is Forget Me Not Farm, promoted by Levi’s wife, former Timex/Cannondale rider Odessa Gunn. Her involvement with animal rescue and rehabilitation has been instrumental in getting awareness and funding for the ranch & foster programs, but it is more than a shelter for abandon critters. The facility acts as a therapeutic refuge for at-risk children, pairing them with animals around the farm and charging the children with their care.
The ride itself incorporates three varied routes, a bit of “something for everyone”, each with a different profile, degree of difficulty and length. All three traverse incredibly scenic terrain, down the Russian River Valley toward the town of Jenner at the Pacific Ocean. The Kings Ridge route takes the GranFondo riders over the hills toward Ritchey Ranch (yes, that Ritchey) where the bike legend himself was reported to be serving sandwiches at the lunch stop.
A very organized ride, the mass start–all the groups at once and at the sensible hour of 8AM–was well managed and the numbers of volunteers and CHPs officers (California Highway Patrol) controlling intersections along the route was impressive. Rest stops were plentiful and well stocked, as were comfort stations. Of course, the scenery was beautiful, as if one had expected anything less. And in typical California coastal fashion, there was some fog along the ocean. Some of the vistas and hill tops were cool and obscured, and a few areas along the ride were reported to have some visibility issues, but aside from that, the ride and post ride weather was excellent.
GranFondo Post Ride Celebrations - Image ©Copyright Randy Ruhlman
Naturally, one of the rewards of a great ride is in the post-ride lunch and festival. The post-ride food offerings ran the gamut from specialities like the very popular Paella stand, to Mexican and Indian food to BBQ beef and plenty of regular post ride cuisine. And, of course, providing the much needed post ride refreshment: an assortment of New Belgium beers to quench the thirst. Along with food and a continuous array of entertainment, there were dozens of Exhibitors at the finish line festivities, including Camelbak, Chris King, HED, Nissan & SRAM, just to name a very few.
All in all, it was a great event.
The pre-ride organization was just that, organised, as was the smooth start with its 7,500 cyclists. The course was well policed and marked and the post ride entertainment and
festival was fun and entertaining.
GranFondo Exhibitors - Images ©Copyright Randy Ruhlman
So what makes a great ride–just that! Levi’s GranFondo 2011 was a ride where you could challenge yourself, have fun, and know that it is all was going to run smoothly. And it is definitely a ride we won’t hesitate to sign up for when entries open for next year’s event.
Yanto & Darren
Please accept my apologies for such intermittent blog updates. Here is a picture of what I have been doing this week. In the photo me (left) Darren Moore right and middle. We spent the day at the Cycle Show at the NEC yesterday which was great. An opportunity to speak to everyone under one roof. It did feel a bit like a pressure cooker with people I wanted to speak to every 10 paces but was very pleased to have got everything done that we set out to do.
The main story I suppose was my signing for the UK Youth team with Magnus Backstedt. I am so excited, we have talked about racing together for years and I’m so pleased that next year will be the one. The team line up look s great and I am so excited to be back up to international UCI level. After co-presenting on ITV4 for the TOB (Tour of Britain) it was great to see the home based guys getting stuck in and mixing it with the big boys over from the continent.
Another interesting thing to talk about maybe, is this time of year. Its end of the season and were all looking to next year with more articles of who’s signed for who coming out every day now and is set to continue as the last riders find their places. But its not over yet. Part of the season is the end of the season. A time to look back and asses the performances of the year for both myself and other riders, especially up and coming ones. I’d like to give a quick mention of some to watch next season.
I think best improved rider of the year is Tom Last (Sigma sport Specialized) The Richmond GP (last premiere) was where I really noticed the lads strength. At the top of the last climb we were down to about 12-15 riders left in the group and Tom was there giving it big licks in the finale. A real talent and one to watch next year.
Ride of the Year for me was JTL (John Tiernan-Locke) on stage 5 of the TOB attacking and dropping some of the best riders in the world up the climb to Hay Tor in Devon on home roads, with home crowd and on the most glorious day. Made me proud he did as I watched from the lead car. Thoroughly deserves a proper world tour team contract.
Most Charismatic rider. For me Mark Cavendish is head and shoulders above the rest. He is a megastar. Even before the worlds win he was getting such a warm and positive reception every stage start and finish on the TOB. I had the pleasure of interviewing him a couple of times on the race and thought he was such a good personality for the sport in this country but for the world of cycling too. Cav if you read this keep up the good work you are a hero to many.
Nicest guy in the peloton. Alex Dowsett, But also the smoothest pedal action too which helped take stage 8a at the TOB along with many more wins to come. They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes but in the case of Dowsett its not true. If you do get to say hello you will go home glad you made the effort.
I could go on and on here, so will save a bit for later which will also give me a reason to keep up dating this blog.
Thanks for reading.
Take care, ride safe,
I heard of this great event and I thought I should share…
Sunday 11th September 2011
Ride the track on your own bike between
Free bike-powered cinema
Screening: Breaking Away & The Best Seat In The World
Herne Hill Velodrome
Burbage Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9HE, UK
This weekend sees “Save the Velodrome” host an evening of free green entertainment, first on the bill is “have-a-go” cycling on the newly laid track at Herne Hill Velodrome followed by a bicycle powered outdoor cinema night as part of the Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival. The screening will be showing the cycling classic “Breaking Away” it will be accompanied by the premiere of “The Best Seat In The World,” a new documentary about Herne Hill’s Velodrome and it’s long history and struggle to stay open, it’s peppered with interviews from cyclists young and old, past and present.
It promises to be a great night for all the family, volunteers will take it in turns to have a go at powering the cinema on the special bikes provided.
For more information on the event please click here to be taken to the Free Film Festival Website.
Herne Hill Track League Grand Finale Image ©Copyright Martin Dixon
Those of our readers in the UK who compete at any level or follow professional cycling will be aware of the ongoing battle to keep the wonderful Herne Hill Velodrome open, for our readers from further afield who are less familiar with Herne Hill you may be aware of similar stories of cycling venues near to you. Herne Hill is in London, it’s been at the heart of British cycling since 1891 and manage to survive the damage it sustained during blitz of the Second World War. The velodrome was a venue in the 1948 Olympic Games, it has an amazing history and many passionate people who use the track and fight to give it an amazing future. When Herne Hill was repaired after the war it was given permanent grandstands and buildings, these are now unfortunately closed to the public because of the upkeep costs and health & safety, but if the velodrome can be given a more secure financial future and a longer lease can be obtained, then one day the grandstands will hopefully be restored to their former glory.
Herne Hill Supporters Club Image ©Copyright Pete @Fixedgear
The velodrome still continues to attract cyclists and supporters to it’s grounds, including the ever popular Good Friday Meeting that attracts cyclists of all levels from all over the world to compete.
Herne Hill is one of the oldest velodromes in the world and it has seen racing from many cycling greats including Jaques Anquetil, Fuasto Coppi and Tom Simpson. Bradley Wigginsfirst raced at Herne Hill when he was just 12.
For more information on the Save The Velodrome Campaign and events please click here.
This event is presented by Free Film Festivals in association with Herne Hill Velodrome, Electric Pedals, Hackney Bicycle Film Society and Save the Velodrome. Free energy drinks and snacks for cyclists kindly provided by Vaidas Bicycles. Future Projections provide the inflatable screen for the event.