Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gran Fondo Colnago San Diego 2009

Gran Fondo ("Big Ride" in Italy) are long distance, mass-participation cycling events, not races, that have become a cycling tradition in Italy. This was San Diego's first and was represented by one of Italy's premiere bike maker, Ernesto Colnago. The route took us through the mountainous, desert terrain of southeastern San Diego County-very challenging, but scenic.
Riders (over 1,000) gather at the break of dawn where else but in Little Italy to jockey for the best starting position, meet up with friends, or listen to the wake up music of Frank Sinatra? Team Colnago waving the Green, White, and Red of Italy to signal the start of the ride. "Arrivederci!"
The lead out was done by the local Ferrari and Ducati Clubs.

One of the rest stops was at the USA Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. I got to do a bike lift on the podium.
There were timing chips issued to all riders to compete for "King of the Mountain" (KOM) over the Honey Springs Pass, 35 miles into the ride. It took me 1 hour:1 minute, 30 minutes behind the fastest climber. My average speed was 6.6 MPH. I watched my heart rate carefully, trying to keep it around 150 bpm because of the heat and also because I knew there were 60 more miles to go with more hills to come.
The Honey Springs climb was 1840 feet over 6.8 miles with an average grade of 5%. Google Earth view as we snake through Jamul.
Secret to climbing hills: Granny Gear, keep the heart rate manageable, BREATHE-inhaling through your nose, avoid the death grip on your handlebar, keep fueled up, patience, enjoy the scenery. Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal - get the picture? I've never seen so many riders walking up the hill climbs or just sitting on the roadside under a shady tree trying to recover. Some just decided to turn around, head back downhill, and abandon the ride. A very tempting alternative at the time.

See the "top", well that's really not the top, there's more.
No, I didn't fall, just lying on the ground hyperventilating so I got the camera out and snapped a picture. Yes, I survived, and at the end of the Gran Fondo Ernesto Colnago, founder of Colnago Bicycles, gave out Prosecco to the faster riders-no, not me. I think he's not smiling because he knows I ride a Trek. This was a very exhausting ride because of the long Honey Springs Climb in 108 degree heat. Total ascent was 5,280 feet which meant there were some great descents, maximum speed over 44 MPH. It took me 8 hours at an average speed of 13 MPH, burning 7,000 Calories.
Here is my Polar readout with Heart Rate, Cadence, Speed, Elevation, and Power.


Anonymous said...

Signed up for 2010. Thanks for the great info!

Anonymous said...

I've never ridden 100mi. Looks fun. Is it attainable? I can ride 70mi. what gearing would you suggest?