Recap // Levi’s GranFondo 2013
(warning…this is long. I have the flu and I’m on cold medicine. Writing and sudafed are not good combos for me.)
Last weekend I completed my 4th Levi’s GranFondo (medio route) and was a Course Marshal for the 2nd year in a row.
The night before the ride, my friend and I had a delicious dinner at LoCoco’s in downtown Santa Rosa. The food is well priced and the service if fantastic. I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area. I then went to the marshal meeting and then headed to my friend’s house to try and get some sleep. I slept fitfully all night for some reason.
The morning of Levi’sGF, I stopped at Starbucks for some much needed caffeine and to get my water bottles filled up. I also got a great parking spot thanks to eavesdropping on a conversation at the marhsal meeting the night before. I could tell already the weather was going to be warm and beautiful which was a relief after the high winds the two days prior. I headed over to where the marshals line up, met up with my marshal partner, and we waited. I was paired up with a very sweet and kind man named David. David’s an experienced cyclist and I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him, but he said not to worry, that he was in no rush today. The sun was shining right into us, so I really couldn’t get any pictures of all the thousands of riders lined up. It looked just like it looks every year.
Kristen had found me before lining up. As all the riders took off, I was trying to catch a good shot of her at the start, but it was hard. Around 8:30am, my marshal partner and I headed out onto the course.
The morning before the first climb was full of navigating streets filled with riders. Checking on riders who were already pulled over to see if they were okay. Once again, I was left amazed at riders doing crazy things and crossing double yellow lines to the other side of the street to pass people. My morning was busy reminding people that the other lane was open to traffic and to stay safe. During one moment there was a kid on a mountain bike – I’m guessing he was around 11 – and he was swerving all over the place. I didn’t see any adults near him. I rode up to him and talked to him for a minute making sure he understood we were about to approach streets that would have cars in both lanes and to be careful and stay towards the right side of the road. I also had to pull over for about 10 minutes and help a guy flag down a SAG car because he had a flat on his tubeless tires and needed a ride to the first rest stop. Good times!
From there I sailed up the first climb of the day, Graton Road, with ease and met back up with my partner. We then hightailed it to the first rest stop, enjoying some conversation along the way. And then at the first rest stop, I did a major no-no – I filled my water bottle up with one of their electrolyte drinks. A brand I’m not used to drinking. I knew better than to do this, but I knew I needed something. I had left my stuff back in the car on accident. Their stuff would wreak havoc on my stomach the rest of the day. Stupid.
The weather on the coast was beautiful and warm and the skies were clear. I was enjoying my time riding on Hwy 1 and staring out at the ocean. It’s always my favorite part of this ride. It’s also the last part before all the hard stuff.
Coleman Valley Road. The treacherous climb up Coleman Valley Road that goes on and on. One day I’m going to drop the 40 pounds I need to drop and this will be easy. One day. I noticed a lot more walkers on Coleman Valley this year. In fact, there were quite a few new riders on the Medio Route this year.
Wearing a Marshal jersey, people like to talk to you and ask you questions.
Question #1: How do you become a Marshal?
Question #2: What does a Marshal do?
Question #3: How hard is Coleman Valley Road really?
Question #4: (after Coleman Valley) Are there any more big hills like that?
Above: the fun of Coleman Valley – climbing the steep and winding grade on the narrow road with cars going in both directions and also trying to stay the hell out of the way of the people on the Grand route who are flying up the hill.
I regrouped with my partner at the Coleman Valley Rest Stop and let him know that my stomach wasn’t feeling so good, so I was struggling a little bit. I apologized for taking so long to get to the top. I only stopped briefly to empty my water bottles and put fresh water in them. I wanted to get the move on! I had reached my “let’s get this done” point.
There’s a sneaky little climb on the way to the last rest stop. Lot’s of riders walking again. I always made sure to ask each one if they were okay. Everyone said they were. At the top of the climb, I met up with my partner again and we cruised into the final rest stop. At this point I needed to take a moment to myself and get back in the mental game. It was hot, my stomach was not great, and frankly, I was tired. Not my best day on the bike. I was feeling really bad for holding my partner back so much. I told him to go ahead on without me and to power to the finish. He was reluctant (sweet and kind), but I finally convinced him. There were two other marshals still at the rest stop with me and two more who were getting ready to head out. So neither one of us would be alone out there.
I grabbed a Coke, sat in the shade for a minute, collected my thoughts, stretched, got my mind back in the game, and then got back on the bike.
From the last rest stop to the finish, I rode as hard as I could. There were no riders with flats or having any issues in this stretch. At the finish line, I saw one of the other marshals who I played leap frog with all day. We never spoke a word to each other all day. But the look on her face looked about how I felt. She walked over to me and gave me a high-five. No words needed to be said.
I found Kristen at the festival afterwards and I drank a much needed beer and we spent some time catching up and talking.
Overall it wasn’t the best day on the bike for me, but I really enjoyed once again being a marshal. I like helping other riders when they need help. I love that riders will slow down and talk to me. I met one guy on a climb who had a stroke one year ago right before last year’s ride and he was very excited to back doing the ride. I met another guy who had flown in from Austin to ride with a friend. And on the Graton Rd climb I fought to catch up to a young girl who was powering up it and I asked her old she was.
“11″, she said.
She had a Medio route number on.
“Are you really doing the medio route?” I asked.
“Well, we traveled all summer, so I’m haven’t been able to properly train. I did it last year, but today I think, I’m just going to do the Piccolo.”
“Well then I don’t have to try and keep up with you all day, because you are fast!”, I replied.Posted in cycling