We’re doing the final drive through of the course today. By today, we mean right now, as we write this in the car. It takes about 3 hours to drive, with stops and final checks on rest stops, timing locations, signage tweaks, hazards. It’s also crucially important that we ensure the sunrise lights up the sky above an ocean-draped fog laying a thousand or so feet below. If we don’t, who’ll make sure it’s all out there for you?

As much as we tweak on details like signage colors, port-a-pottie placement, and pedantic (Joad!) newsletters, we seek inspiration in this ride as much as you all do. We complain about bleary eyes and cobweb-covered bikes and family members we don’t see despite being in the same house together, but there’s no other thing we’d rather be doing, no other place we’d rather show you, and no other way we’d rather see you experience it than on two wheels.

So while we wake up with sleep lines in the shape of mobile phones and can’t put on skinny jeans due to repeated laptop burns, know that in these last days, we’re doing exactly what we want to be doing: providing 7500 people with the toughest, most beautiful, most exciting bicycle ride they’ll ever undertake.

 

Shout It From On High

NorCal League Sponsorship–Looks Like Your Ride Just Got More Important

Pickup What We’re Throwing Down–Friday/Saturday Registration

Rest Stops and What Lay There Waiting

Route Cutoff Reminder

The Auction That Isn’t–Club Suite Available At Oakland Raiders Game For Donation to GranFondo Charities

Dude, I Drove My Car–Parking at the GranFondo

 

The Kids Are More Than Alright

We’ve recently added a new beneficiary to the list of GranFondo charities and we couldn’t be more excited about it. As of yesterday, the ink is drying on a three year commitment from the GranFondo to be the top sponsor of the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League. We’ve worked closely with this group for years and have never ceased to be amazed at the dedication and enthusiasm of the athletes, coaches, and staff. We’re hoping not only to support the largest and oldest scholastic mountain bike league in the country, but to seed new teams in our own backyard.

In our muddled, troubled world, there are very few universal good out there, things that, without exception, make our domain a better place. Helping kids fall in love with bikes is one of them.

Hats off to you, NorCal League.

 

Packet Pickup

Everyone riding in the GranFondo needs to pick up their packet and sign their waiver. They’ve got to do this themselves, with their own hands, signing their own names, presenting their own photo IDs. No substitutions. We’ll have the Finley Center open from 11AM-10PM on Friday and we’ll be pouring New Belgium beer, slugging coffee, spinning records, and hosting several exhibitors that day. Bike valet is available for those of you riding bikes and overflow parking can be found across Stony Point at the City Utilities building. Our merchandise and information booths will be fully staffed and offering tight-fitting clothing and knowledge, respectively, to whomever needs it.

Camelbak will be there exchanging your mold farm of a water bottle for shiny new GranFondo Podium bottles and Boudin Bakery will be there handing out fresh sourdough for riders. Boudin will be in the midst of their own fundraiser for Forget Me Not Farm, the details of which are here. All you’ve really got to do is drop by, with this coupon in hand (or on your phone), enjoy some of their fine sandwiches, soups, breads, or other baked delights, and the Farm, their abandoned animals, and their at-risk kids all benefit. You eat, they gain. Perfect.

Boudin’s sourdough and Camelbak’s custom Fondo Podium bottle would’ve ideally been put in your swag bag, but freshness counts when it comes to baking and besides, we really need to get that old water bottle of yours out of circulation. Think of it as offering a breath mint to a friend in need.

Don’t forget about the e-swag bag we offer each year, that repository for discounts, offers, and other finery from our sponsors. We’ll have instructions in your swag bags, don’t worry.

Anyone not able to make it on Friday can pick up their packets on Saturday morning from 6AM to just before 8AM. Not the best option, but we also know not everyone can waltz over to west Santa Rosa on a workday.

 

Roadside Relaxation

For those of you who’ve never experienced the GranFondo rest stops, you’re about to have your standards on that front irrevocably changed. Count on banks of 1st Endurance electrolyte drink and scads of water spigots. Look for pile after pile of juicy ripe fruit, salty potatoes and chips, and your fave Clif bars and gels. Oh and the peanut butter, rejoice the buckets of peanut butter. Full-on sandwiches will be served on the Gran route at Ritchey Ranch. There’s even a few limited gluten-free options for those of you that need it. Celiacs, welcome home.

Address booboos, newly misshapen wheels, and personal business at our first aid stations, wrench tents, and no-to-low-wait green rooms. Please do your best to match that list of former needs to latter solutions, otherwise we’ll have a mess on our hands.

These stops are more or less 15 miles apart, but we don’t expect you to stop at all of them. In fact, if you did, you’d get back well after dark. Check your rider manual for more information, but generally, we’ll want all but Piccolo riders to skip Occidental on the way out before hitting their first rest stop further down the road along the Russian River.

 

Fort Ross Cutoff

Just a reminder: any Gran rider hitting King Ridge Road at 11AM or later will be diverted by California Highway Patrol up the lovely Fort Ross Road to rejoin the route near the Ritchey Ranch rest stop. From the start line, that’s about 30 miles that you’ll need to cover in about three hours. If that’s a problem pace for you, believe us when we say it’ll be safer and more enjoyable for you to traverse this cutoff instead of King Ridge Road.

 

Raiders Of The VIP Ark
Scott Tedro, longtime champion and supporter of bicycle racing and head cheese over at Sho-Air International, has offered up an auction item for our Festa del Fondo fundraising dinner. We’re treating it a bit differently however, and opening it up for everyone with an ear to hear. He’s kicked down his fully-catered, all food and drinks included, club suite at this Sunday’s Oakland Raiders game with eighteen tickets, all in the name of the GranFondo charities. Since this one’s coming right up, we’re skipping the auction and not waiting until the Thursday dinner. First person to write back to levisgranfondo@bikemonkey.net pledging $6,000 (we checked, it’s worth more) to GranFondo charities like Forget Me Not Farm and, now, the NorCal High School MTB League, gets it. No bidding, no coat-and-tie. Comes with seventeen new friends, so that’s a nice bonus.

 

Parking
There are tons of ways to get to the start line on Saturday, the best of which is on two wheels. The bike path literally passes right by the start and NorCal Bike Sport is opening early and offering to let folks ride from the shop bright and fresh in the AM. If you must drive, arm yourself with some patience and the info you glean from our parking map. The lot in front of Finley will fill first, so plan on driving around a bit to find a space. There’s 7500 of you and if anybody gets the impact of cars, it’s this crowd, so please ride if you can, carpool if you can’t ride, and be patient if you can’t carpool.