Bikes are magical. You can ride for hours in a dream state, a sublime repetition of pedal strokes and respiration, unspooling the clogged wiring of your mind and setting right all the nagging problems with which we fill our days. This is the mental poetry of the bike. These are the times when we are close to the basic truths of the human experience and we’re filled with gratitude for the machine that helps us get there.

Then you’re shaken awake mid-ride, brought into the present, wondering where the hell you are and how you got so far. You’re back on the planet’s surface, bold, new, and ready. You shoot a text letting the office/spouse/dog know you’ll be later than you thought and point yourself homeward.

We’re just over two months out. Time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

GranFondo Spots Still Available

Ah summer. That lush time when the sun burns brightest across skies so blue they hurt to look at. The air is warm, the grass green, and all the world is abuzz with activity. You know this last part best.

After all, you’ve got something happening at every turn: kid’s intra-reform school karate championships, obligatory awkward-attempt-by-management-to-lift-inevitably-sagging-morale barbecues, camping weekends with those people who want to be your best friends, but whose names you can’t remember. Yes, someone else has booked weekend after weekend for you, so much so that your personal time comes in the 15-minute blocks when you can lock yourself in the bathroom, drinking the beer you’ve stashed in the toilet tank and playing whatever passes for Angry Birds these days.

May we humbly suggest getting something on the calendar before every last weekend between now and the heaving black dark of winter becomes something that you’re doing for someone else? May we remind you that no one “receives” time for themselves, they “take” it? May we say, one more time, that, despite the attempts of hundreds of other events, there’s only one “best day out on two wheels?”

A small number of spots still remain in Levi’s GranFondo. Don’t let the season pass you by. Register now, because no one is going to do it for you.

Your Month to Train/Transform

In related news, every year we see people lining up under our big arch with an uncontainable excitement, a zest for saddle time that manifests in wide eyes and wider grins. Then they hit the first big climb onto King Ridge. This is followed by the Hauser Bridge crank strainer, which is barely a memory before the Seaview Ridge one-two kryptonite combo and, unfortunately, long before the Coleman Valley Wall. The wide eyes have become sunken and hollow; the grins covered by limp, heaving lips.

Any route in the GranFondo carries with it challenges unforeseen by the mind and body of such a broad spectrum of cyclists. We need to make sure you’re all in top form for this event, so that you can enjoy it as it’s intended to be enjoyed. Thankfully, we have a solution:

Levi Leipheimer is going to train you. All 7,500 of you.

Starting in August, your new coach, hand-in-hand with famed cycling trainer Max Testa, is going to be offering a week-by-week training program designed to take any rider up a couple of notches over the next couple of months. Max’s near-30 years training Pro Tour teams alongside Levi’s couple of decades of racing is going to make for a Ivan Drago-smashing combination of expertise and experience. If you’re not bad on the bike, you’ll get good. If you’re good, you’ll get great. If you’re great, then just do every interval twice, you show-off.

Point is, the GranFondo is hard and you’ll have a better time if your form is as good as it can be. Over the next two months, Levi is going to make available a program,  specifically customized for each of you and designed for the GranFondo routes, available on-line and applicable anywhere in the world. It won’t take 25 hours of riding a week and, should you miss a workout or two, your legs won’t implode in on themselves. But it will give you some vital structure in your riding, it’ll get you on your bike more often, and you’ll be ready for a big day in October, rather than hoping those hill repeats you talked about doing that one time will somehow make things easier.

Information on the sleeker, speedier, but mostly more-in-love-with-the-bike you can be found at maxtestatraining.com/levigf. There’s a two-week sample posted there as well, for those who want to wade in before committing full tilt. Don’t wait too long, though. It’s almost August and every day you delay, a muscle fiber quietly surrenders.

Support the GranFondo Causes, Earn Big Treasure

Fundraising for good work is its own reward. We figure it wouldn’t hurt, however, to sweeten the pot a bit. We’ve got team-based as well as individual incentives ranging from free helmets, to full kits, passes to future GranFondos, exclusive lounge space at the Festival, and even custom head badges. These incentives are only going to improve over the next several weeks, just like that warm fuzzy feeling you get from raising money for things like expanding fire services, putting technology in rural classrooms, getting kids on mountain bikes, and changing the lives of at-risk children.

Fond-Approved Preparation

GranFondo course record holder, Rebecca Rusch, is a stone with no moss. She came across our finish line last year and didn’t even dismount before she was on the phone planning her own event. Sure enough, 10 short months later, she put on Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a 94-mile high country, timed, charity dirt road ride through the stunning mountains of her Ketchum, Idaho hometown. We went and were reminded of the GranFondo’s own early days and the hometown challenge of a big day out on the bike. It’s still on our calendar and, since it’s great prep for our own ride, we heartily recommend you all give it a go.

If our own endorsement doesn’t cut it for you, consider that, after the ride, you get to hurl beer at people across a table. Priorities, man. Priorities.