Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Levi's GranFondo Fun

Every Oct retired pro roadie and fellow Santa Rosa native Levi Leipheimer puts on a Gran Fondo on my all time favorite roads in Sonoma County. Usually I'm in the throws of teaching and can't make it out to the event, but this year I seized the opportunity to join the fun! 
Kaylee and I were just two of the mountain bikers crazy enough to brave a 6,000 person mass start road ride...
6,000 people lined up to complete one of the 8 course options which ranged from 35 miles to 116 miles. The weather could not have been more pleasant, and the company could not have been better. 
I'm never excited about anything... ever.
For me this Fondo is more than an opportunity to ride bikes on pretty roads, it's a celebration of all that makes Santa Rosa my favorite town ever, and Sonoma county the best region! To see so many people lined up, excited to ride on roads I have treasured for the past decade was pretty special. I'm so grateful to Levi and Bike Monkey for going all out to make such an experience possible for so many people. 
Another cool layer to the experience was that RidebikerAlliance, my main sponsor, also supports the Fondo, and was present in full force! I had the opportunity to ride with (read alternately get crushed by and suck wind for) the guy responsible for making my season happen last year, Scott Tedro, as well as Bob Roll and Erik Bostrom.
The nuttiest part of the day was rolling out of town with 6,000 other bike enthusiasts, hearing the sound of 12,000 wheels whooshing down the street and almost as many brakes being gently applied to carbon rims. I was actually quiet for probably 10 minutes just listening to the sounds of all the bikes, and if you know me, not talking for 10 minutes is, well, rare. The mass start as terrifying and exciting, and resulted in a crazy fast arrival in Occidental. From there our group headed out to the coast along the Russian river, and then south to Coleman valley rd. Bostrom and I decided to charge full speed ahead from there, which resulted in me hanging onto his wheel for dear life, and despite our slow start we ended up winning. The Medio course. 
Then, my other best part of any cycling event happened, the hanging out with tons of cool people! Needless to say I love people who love bikes, and this Fondo business had some of the best!
These dudes are so rad :)
Got another picture with Yuri (that guy is so cool!) and that guy who is really good at baseball!
I got to thank Allison Tetrik for her podium rules blog that taught me how to appropriately dress for the podium, and Mari Holden who made me realize the pro women's racing was a thing way back when I started cycling. I got to (finally) meet Forest in person, whose Facebook posts always turn my stoke up to 20, AND his adorable baby River! Also got to meet Amy the dog who is basically a human, and a crap ton of other amazing and interesting people who are just about as enthusiastic about bikes as me! 
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My only regret of the day was that I didn't say hi to my fave announcer Dave Towle, who basically makes every event he announces magic :) Thanks Dave for the shout outs! And for being another reason I started this racing thing back in the day. 
I have to say, before I resume TCOB, that I am incredibly impressed with the volunteers at this event! There were SO many volunteers and they were so well organized and friendly and LOOK at the bike parking! This many bikes in one place... Makes me feel like Brendan had some job security!
So that's my story of my first Levi's GranFondo! You should come next year because it is AMAZING! Also, hug a loved one today :) each moment on this earth is a gift. 

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