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All this bluster, all this bravado. So much talk of inevitability, of critical mass, of undeniable legions of grinning, spinning humans, all shoulder to shoulder and moving like a stroke of paint across the land. Long have we extolled the marvels of this event, its epic emotion, its grand scope.
This kind of flowery purple prose comes off a bit funny when you’re on your 7th coffee, your dirty laundry is draped over your drop bars, Visine is considered breakfast, and every calorie you’ve consumed for the past week has left a trail of foil and greasy cardboard across your kitchen counter.
We’re about 10 days out. It’s crunch time, baby.
Put up the kid gloves and let’s get some dirt under those fingernails. We know you’ll be right there with us.
How To Get Up For The Get Down:
Taking the Stage–Lining Up With 7,500 Of Your New Friends
The Road Before Us–Potholes, Cattleguards, And General Route Safety
Road ID Discounts–Peace Of Mind Right On Your Wrist
SRAM Giveaway: Wi Fli Away–How To Get Yer Mitts on GranFondo-Friendly Gearing
Busting the SAG–How To Get Scooped Up If You’re Pooped Out
The Rest Of The Story–Where And What To Expect At Rest Stops
Making 7,500 Cyclists Move As One
We don’t stage in waves. We don’t stage in intervals. We don’t give head starts. On this day, we ask that you all come together and head out on one damn fine bike ride as a group. This is a core value of our event and it’s an amazing experience to roll out this big. We wouldn’t deny that to anyone.
That said, it’s only going to work as well as you allow it. We need you honest and smart and aware about how you’ll ride that day. We’ve got climbs that go for miles, 12-14% grades, and winds from all points of the compass. This ride is hard. We’re sure that you can do hill sprints that would shame your local club. This isn’t your local club. Stage like you’re going to have fun, not like you’re going to end up in our SAG wagon. The only person out there you’ve got to prove anything to is yourself.
We say this because it’s a safety issue. Stage too far forward and faster riders will have to deal with getting around you, possibly taking unnecessary risks to pass you. Stage too far back and you’re one of those faster riders, possibly taking unnecessary risks. Look for signs on the morning of the ride directing you where your route should start and how fast your average time will be. Not sure? Check out your time from last year over here. First time riding with us? Take your best century ride time and add 20%. Then add another 10%. You get the idea. It’s not a hard science, but only 10% of the 4000 gran riders will come in under 6.5 hours. Plan accordingly and stage humbly.
Between The Ditches
Our roads are imperfect. They follow the contours of the land and have strained under their shifts and heaves over the last century. And, since we can’t afford to fix them, we might as well make them a point of pride. Despite the preponderance of herbal wraps and water with cucumber and mint in it, Sonoma County is still a rural place. There will be potholes. There will be gravel patches. There will be cattleguards. And where there are cattleguards, there will be cattle. And cattle poop. We honestly kinda like it this way.
For those of you who grin when you read this sort of thing, please direct your attention over here to our gravel option.
For the rest of us, all it takes is a bit of awareness. Call out hazards (including the poop) when you see them if you’re working in a group; keep your eyes on the road if you’re simply cruising along. The cattleguards themselves are nothing to worry about, just hit ‘em straight on and you’ll be fine. If you need more tips on those, look over here. You may not see a centerline for most of the route. Just because it’s not painted there doesn’t mean that our centerline rule doesn’t apply. Keep it to the right people. And as for those perfectly engineered roads with predictable grades and turns? They’re not here. When we indicate “Technical Descent Ahead,” boy oh boy do we mean it.
Trust us, your super-high-end road bike can handle it. It was made for this actually. Those hyper-skinny, single-ply track tires though? The super-light deep-dish carbon wheels? Might want to reconsider. The hills were alive with the sound of exploding carbon wheels on Hauser Bridge last year.
Rarely do you have a product that is so inarguably valuable as a Road ID. Everyone who registered for the GranFondo received a $5 gift card towards the purchase of one of their emergency identification products. If you haven’t already used it, the time is now. As an added bonus, use promo code pcGranFondo2011 by September 31st and get 15% off your order. If you need a cherry on top, consider that 25% of your order with this code will go back to Levi’s GranFondo charities. Nobody does win-win-win like the good folks at Road ID.
If you already own a Road ID, check out a few new products including their Wrist ID Slim and the Scout ID, the latter exclusively for use by your 4-legged furry friends. Consider their Firefly products like their Supernova light, which will keep you safe and visible as we lose precious daylight.
Regardless, no matter what product you choose, Road ID has always got your back and will speak for you when you can’t speak for yourselves. It’s what they do.
(Are you an emergency first responder hearing about Road ID for the first time? Check out their First Responder Outreach program found at www.RoadID.com/FirstResponder.)
SRAM: Wider, Faster, Lighter
SRAM has risen to the highest levels of professional cycling by giving riders componentry that inspires confidence and performs flawlessly. Deep in the pro peloton, these guys pride themselves on having the lightest, most efficient, and ergonomic road componentry ever made. Since they’re old pros at Levi’s GranFondo, they thought it best to impart some of that confidence to you all as you struggle to attain King Ridge’s (and other’s) great heights.
To wit, we’re hosting a short little quiz for you all starting now and ending next Monday, September 26th. Answer all the questions correctly, and you’ll be entered to win one of 12 SRAM WiFLi upgrade kits. Link to the quiz is here: http://bit.ly/SRAMgiveaway.
WiFLi stands for wider, faster, lighter road gearing and gets you spinning your little heart out. Designed with an 11-32 cassette and special long cage rear derailleur, SRAM’s WiFLi upgrade kit converts any existing SRAM Road drive train into a hill hungry, King Ridge gobbling machine. Winners will need to bring their bikes with them to registration so that the SRAM Neutral Support team can install the kit just in time for your GranFondo success.
Don’t ride SRAM…yet? We’ll take care of you prize-wise as well, no worries. Regardless of set up, you might as well visit the SRAM Neutral Support team before the event Friday for a bike check and chat, and be sure to stop by the SRAM gang at the FondoSonoma Festival and learn “why WiFLi” first hand. In the meantime, brush up on SRAM here: http://www.sram.com/sram/road/technologies
SAG Support Supports You When You Sag
The SAG wagon is a lovely thing. While we expect you to be reasonably self-sufficient, “Support and Gear” vehicles are there for you. If you are having issues with your health or your bike that require you to call it a day, then let our screened and trained SAG drivers do their job. Don’t put yourself and others in an unsafe position by continuing on when you or your bike can’t operate under reasonable control. We’re going for a safe event for everyone and that’s why the SAG is out and about.
By the same turn, it’s not a taxi service. You don’t get to go home because you miss your cat or wore the wrong socks for your tan line. You’ve made a commitment to challenge yourself. We want you to see it through if you can.
Fondo at Rest
Take ‘em or leave ‘em, they’re here for you. About every 20 miles or so, expect to see a veritable oasis of calories, hydration, and camaraderie. People sign up for the GranFondo just for the rest stops (kinda, but not really) and we’re happy to help do some revivin’ by the roadside. Refresh yourselves with electrolyte-gifted drink from our pals at First Endurance. Guzzle gels from the good people at Clif Shot. And expect to see things like roasted potatoes, PB&Js, pretzels, cookies, fresh fruit, mixed nuts, and, naturally, water at every stop along the way.
Well, almost every stop. The station at the top of Coleman Valley Road is a liquid-only stop with Occidental not far beyond. Abundant calories can be found there, making the Coleman stop more of an extra hydration depot than anything.
Those of you on the gran route can expect a deli-type lunch at Tom Ritchey’s ranch about mid-way through the route. If he’s not riding that day, he may be welding your sandwich together. He’s the one with the hairnet over his mustache.
Tickets are still available for our Festa del Fondo gala dinner!
Volunteers are still needed in hundreds of different places. Enlist here!
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