Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gran Fondo

Gran Fondo. Translation: Big Folly? Perhaps. Big Ride? More accurately.

My friend Renea has reccently gotten me into road biking, and as I have to take everything up a notch, I decided that we should do something spectacular with it. Now, she rides in foreign countries and does 100 mile weekend rides, and plans on riding the Continental Divide this summer, so I knew I would have to find something amazing to impress her. My solution was the 2nd annual Gran Fondo here in San Diego.  Gran Fondos are long distance, mass-participation cycling events – not races – that have become immensely popular in Italy. There were 3 events to participate in...32, 53, and 100 miles and I of course suggest 100 miles. Renea, slightly more practical than I, suggests 53 miles as we've only done one ride together  (an my only ride on a non-beach cruiser or foldable bike in the last 6 years) and it was only for 36 miles. (Only.)

How was I to know we here in SD would have the wettest winter in years and that the day of the race, it would pour? As I left my house at 5:30 (on a Sunday no less) and headed to Renea's I tried to tell myself that the deluge of rain (that we've had for the past 2 days) would soon in. Instead in continued. Thankfully, Renea had brought rain pants (MC Hammer style on me) and an extra jacket. As we parked and rode the mile to the start line, we started to second guess ourselves. Then it started raining harder and we decided we were possibly totally insane. While we waited for the start, and joined other riders hiding in the awnings that lined the streets our helmets dripped with water we stared at each other definitley thinking the same thing, "What the HELL are we doing here?"

It took about 30 minutes for our wave of riders to start - there were some thousand or so idiots/zealots with us, and then we were off for our 53 miles of fun and adventure. It poured, with intermittent misting for the next 5 hours. We managed to go unscathed for about 49 miles around the San Diego county area ...that was until my tire tweaked in a train track and I got thrown off my bike. Again I had to thank Renea for the pants and jacket as I think that is what helped me keep most of my skin as I bounced then slid across the pavement. Undaunted (or slightly daunted perhaps) I got some help back onto my bike and we finished the last 4 miles of the race, crossing the finish line together and smiliing despite the pain, wetness, cold, and hunger and proudly held our metals up for a photo.

Now that I am again dry, warm, and not on my butt, I can say that I feel quite accomplished. Despite the banged up right side of my body and sore booty I just want to say, "How did you spend your Sunday?" :)