Thursday, May 21, 2015

GRAN FONDO FTW!


Despite the lack of Dolphin and Buffalo herd sightings, Catalina Gran Fondo weekend surprised me by being my favorite weekend in a long time. 
One of 2 buffalo sightings of the weekend. 
Before last weekend I had never done a Gran Fondo, and didn't really know what to expect/how to go about riding one. Is it a race? Is it a fun ride with aid stations and photo ops and whiskey hand ups? 
Turns out, a Gran Fondo is ALL THE THINGS!!! And it was awesome!
A brief rundown of the ride/race/party.

Friday afternoon we took the ferry over to the island and checked into our adorable hotel with the most comfortable beds with the fluffiest pillows and comforters. It was like a dream. 

Saturday morning, after 'sploring sleepy Avalon, hunting for coffee, and meeting a rad Canadian, I got back in the giant fluffy bed and basked in the glory of no pre-race nerves. Did I mention the bed was luxurious? 


Eventually I had to drag myself out of the bed so nice I took a picture so I could always remember it, kitted up, and hit the "start line". Remember kids, this isn't a race? Or is it? See, still confused.

The Fondo started out with a HUGE climb from sea level to some absurd elevation in which I thought I was cool and tried to ride with the leaders and failed (they later told me there weren't going very hard, jerks!).

After some early Fondo suffering, I found myself riding with some pretty rad young guns, Spencer (who happens to be kinda like my team mate!) and Daniel. They proved to be invaluable Fondo buddies as 47 miles is a long way to go on a mountain bike, and having guys around to draft is clutch. 

Spencer was the nicest one and waited for me when I got dropped on the descent to Two Harbors, and then I was an ass and didn't wait for him when I dropped him on the climb out of Two Harbors ( I still feel bad about that Spencer! Sorry!). It was a very steep climb. 

Then it was just a matter of keeping the hammer down and crushing every climb. The 47 mile long route met up with some of the shorter routes, so I had a great time cheering for other riders as I passed them, and every once in a while I looked up at the beautiful ocean views. 

Finally, with 15 miles to go I caught Daniel who was taking a break (the horror, stopping at an aid station, who does that?!), and we tortured the crap out of each other to the finish.

The rest of the day was spent drinking 25 free smoothies, cheering for other finishers, drinking a beer, swimming in the ocean, and socializing with the cool Team Big Bear folks. It was an incredible event, I didn't eat any aid station food or get bitten by an eel, and I finished the ride in around 3 hours. 

I ate my peanut butter banana sando AFTER the ride because there was too much crushing going on to eat it mid-ride. 
The rest of the weekend was legit too, hero dirt, yard work, a 3 hour hike with the pups surrounded by wildflowers... The kind of weekend that made Monday a very painful, tired, sore day. 

Moral of the story: you HAVE to do the Catalina Gran Fondo at some point in your life! Best Gran Fondo I've ever done! 

*There should be a million glorious pictures of ocean views/sailboats/nature and stuff... BUT sometimes you are having too much fun riding bikes to stop and take pictures. I needed my personal photographer to come along... Next year Carl, next year!


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