I'm Fondo-ing

This summer I have logged some serious miles on faithful little Delilah the Domane (close to 3K since that overcast March day that we were united in El Aye). We have rode countless asphalt miles - a few hundred on dirt, and had not near enough rest days. In between my Rapha adventures Delilah and I got into this Gran Fondo funk with Fizik's Velocita team.

What is a Gran Fondo?! Honestly, it was fairly new terminology to me until a year or two ago. I just knew it was a really long ride. For some reason it really never came across as an interest - maybe because I thought it would encompass too much competitiveness (Yes, I Elizabeth just said that...too much competitiveness). I have had the opportunity to participate in both the Gran Fondo Italia in Aspen and in Beverly Hills (maybe Miami too?). So far both of the Fondos have been extremely different - from the courses, to the number of participates, the weather, to the SAG and the GMRs. And, as I sit here typing...I am still confused as to what a Gran Fondo really is. Is it a race? Is it a ride?

So, essentially there are two different distances you can chose from - they tend to be about 50 and 100ish miles. The last two I have done, I have opted towards 100 - once because I had nothing else to do that day, and then the next because I was basically talked into it (I was told I could have anything I wanted if I won - I got second. Shoot!) 100 miles is a cinch. There are normally a few hundred people at the start line - the energy is always buzzing. There is SAG support the entire way - those PB&J's washed down with a coke can be a lifesaver at about mile 80. There are pace cars, and motor cops to keep you safe.  You see everything from pro racers to people on city cruisers - a true array. You can treat the distance as a simple ride, or you can treat it as a race. In the two I have participated in - there has been a KOM (or, in my world...a QOM - Queen of the Mountain/GMR section). This is a hill climb, that you are actually timed up, and the winner is handsomely rewarded - my reward? A beautiful white Kask Vertigo helmet.  This reward came from climbing Piuma - a grade that I have never managed to adventure up during my rides in Malibu.

There is an expo at the event, and normally you leave the event with a bunch of neat free stuff, like Fizik Bartape a bottle of wine, etc. There are beautiful bikes all over the place - Colnago's with custom paint colors that have been intricately built. You can get a glimpse of the new kicks and duds and gadgets for various companies. Bruce Hildenbrand's voice of excitement rings over the speakers - as he warmly greets the finishing riders and fellow friends. When you cross the finish line after pushing through your 50/100 miles you are handed fancy little metal with the Gran Fondo Italia logo on it, as a photographer rushes up to you to get a photo before the next rider rolls across the finish line - nothing like looking completely exhausted.   Reloading all those carbs you burnt is part of the event - the day comes to a close with a large pasta party - I highly suggest accompanying your pasta with some type of alcoholic beverage, clearly because you want to quickly regain those carbohydrates. If you are lucky, and are a VIP, you start off the event a day early with a gala - nothing like bike talk, photographers, appetizers and a lot of red wine prior to adventuring out on your bike for 100 miles - somehow, I have successfully completed this twice...the key? Eat breakfast - find coffee. 

Chances are, there will be some people at the start line that are determined to win. What they are trying to win? Still not sure - maybe a Strava record. There is a small group of pro racers, that will make you realize you are not in-fact fast. You will probably go back and forth with other riders, while trying to establish your pace. You'll stop, you'll have mechanical issues - if you don't  you are one lucky individual - at a mere 110 pounds I am the queen of flats. During the last Fondo I did, around mile 80 I asked myself 'why are you doing this?' - then I remembered it is because I absolutely love being on my bike, and absolutely love pushing myself to the limit.

Fon-do or fon-don't. The best part by far, it crossing the line, taking a shower and stuffing your face with food.

Sending Love,


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