Not a bad result…
The beauty of it is it doesnt matter, you ride, then find your way home, on or off road, it makes no odds. Being able to head out, no worries, and trust yourself to get back to where you started, it takes a lot of trust, but ultimately leads to brilliant new discoveries; lanes you would never previously dare venture down, farm tracks, always leading you somewhere new – giving you a new route. It makes riding in areas you dont know so much easier, to be able to switch off, just ride. Its the freedom on the bike you enjoy, choose any route you like, relish how much better it is when you live in the moment.
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.
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.
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 andfestival was fun and entertaining.
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.
I have been resting (off the bike) for a week now, and to put it blunty, I am absolutely dying to get back on! It’s a different type of rest to that of the pro riders, I am in school seven hours a day studying for my A levels, however hopefully it still makes a difference! Other than work at school I have been sorting out my sponsorship for next year, with a few new things also on the horizon (hopefully). I had some brilliant news on Friday, of my acceptance to the British Olympic Development Programme. This is a really great news, a big step in the right direction and to be honest I cant really put into words how much it means to me. I have been building up my winter bike over my break, and with only a few bits to fit, it will hopefully be up and running by this weekend!
Get down to Condor, if you cant, get on the phone, this book is really worth having. Anyone at all interested in the history of the shop, checkout Past Present Future.
I think it looks brilliant!
Feels weird to say, but thats it for the season. Well I wish it was that simple, I am riding some of the Revolution Series in Manchester, most likely the first and last but maybe some of the others too. However the season is finished. Revs seems to fall as some strange afterthought to 2011, prolouge to 2012, however it always has a great atmosphere and so are a joy to ride.
This weekend I rode the Madison Youth and Junior (Saturday and Sunday) British Madison Championships with a great friend of mine Luc Hall, it involved some really good racing in front of a huge Manchester crowd, but on the whole more of a learning curve than anything for us as a pairing. Our first madison sling came in the first race itself, this wouldnt be a problem for a really experienced Madison rider, however the catch came in that I had only ridden one before, with a field no way near to match and Luc hadn’t ridden one at all. I think we put in a good effort, and improved a lot on the Sunday, taking in what we had learnt. On the whole I am pleased with the weekend, was obviously not great result wise, and thats obviously what is seen on paper, but we have both taken a great deal from the weekend, hopefully stuff we can put into action next year in the Junior ranks full time. I would like to do a proper round up of the year soon, but not tonight, school work is calling.