Just yesterday, yours truly was able to participate in the Inaugural Celebration of Levi’s Gran Fondo.
The event was a huge success, with the ridership at the capped 3500 mark. Moreover, it was a great success for yours truly, as me and my Steel Framed Surly managed to prevail* over three-time Tour of California Champion Levi Leipheimer in the mountains west of Santa Rosa. I began well back in the pack, considering myself of the intermediate sort and not wanting to incur any sports-related injury that would prevent me from shipping out the patches and stickers you all so love (Jonny would be unable to step in and help due to his being on vacation in some exotic locale**). However, upon hitting the road, I found my legs were good, and I began to make my way through the pack.
I continued on the ride, not thinking too much of my pace until I returned, having been passed by a good number of very fit looking (and some not so fit looking) riders, to discover that in fact, Mister Leipheimer had not yet returned! In fact, he did not return for well over an hour or two after I made my triumphant sprint (more of a glass-eyed wobble) across the finish line. Yes, I truly defeated* the famed racer on a Surly LHT in this hard man’s own backyard!
I did not receive any podium awards since the event was not termed a “race,” per se, but Levi did throw an enormous Bike Monkey shirt directly at my (not enormous) domestic partner, so perhaps that was a reward for a ride well ridden.
Seriously, congratulations to everybody who put this thing on, especially Carlos Perez, who is certainly a man of my own heart. The organization and support was superb, I would highly recommend the ride to anyone of almost any skill level (There was a 35 Mile Piccolo ride as well). Somehow, 3500 cyclists of all sorts of abilities managed to stay safe for the most part and have a hell of a lot of fun hurting themselves. The festival afterward had cycling mainstays like Trek, and Look represented along with niche frame builders like Calfee and Bruce Gordon on hand to add flavor. Plus there was the ubiquitous (and ZPG Favorite) New Belgium brews and plenty of cool smaller vendors like Action Wipes and the perfectly adorable Luce Goods.
Events like these really are one of the reasons I’m insanely glad to live in California, and any time Gladys (my Surly) and I are allowed to clumsily ride with people who actually know how to operate their fancy bicycles properly is good by me.
* “Victory” was attained by riding the Medio Fondo: 65 miles, 3500′ climbing versus Levi’s Gran Fondo: 103 mi, 6500′ climbing.
** Washington, D.C.