Levi’s Gran Fondo. Go.
160 decibel news for all road cyclists: registration for the best gran fondo in our part of the world is now open.
Levi’s Gran Fondo is the funnest, coolest, most beautiful, well-organized good time you can have on a bike. With apologies to all the other up-and-coming gran fondos here in the US of A, this is the one that always hits it out of the park.
Oops, sorry, what’s a baseball figure of speech doing here?
Levi’s Gran Fondo spins the biggest gear, it’s the hors categorie of fondos, it pedals circles around all other cycling events, it drops other fondos down the mountain without even breaking a sweat. It is the Eddie Merckx of Fondos.
Okay, you get my point.
I’ve ridden three editions of Levi’s Gran Fondo and I always want to come back for more. Last year, I road the 75 mile option and dug so deep on the big climb that when I crossed the finish line, I went into a full body cramp. I lay on the grass writhing and pounding recovery drinks as fast as possible and wondering if I needed an ambulance or helicopter but once the spasms stopped, all I could think was, let’s do this again!
This fondo in Santa Rosa, California, has it all: stunning coastal scenery, big climbs and small, backroads, winery scenery, endless beauty wherever you look. Plus you are partying with your people: about 8000 bike-happy citizens out for a grand day, great food and a musical shindig.
If you’ve ridden Levi’s Gran Fondo, then my words are useless — you already love the idea and you’re mere seconds (and a web-link) away from registering again. If you’ve done other, lesser gran fondos, erase them from your memory and step up to the true experience and if you’ve never done any fondos, then thank your lucky stars — you’re starting at the top of the summit!
If they had a bucket list just for gran fondos, this would be numero uno. If you had one gran fondo to ride before you died, this is the pick. If you went to bed and had a dream where you were on the most fantastic bike ride of your life, you were in fact dreaming about Levi’s Gran Fondo. If you were about to propose to a bike-crazy man or woman, this is where you pop the question. If anybody hands you a free plane ticket and hotel accommodations for anywhere in the world — Venice, Rio, Paris, the Croatian isles — and that ticket says October 4th, you say, no thanks, not interested, riding Levi’s Gran Fondo instead.
You know what? Levi’s Gran Fondo is even the best written fondo. Greg Fisher writes the funniest, most engaging event copy you will probably ever read. You want a short course on snappy, smart writing that sucks you in, read Greg.
Can you feel the insistence behind my words? Few things in life are guaranteed to make you smile — joy is ephemeral, happiness passes quickly, the transcendent experience often turns out to be merely okay. But this is the real deal, the fondo, the one against which all other fondos are measured and found lacking.
Another personal note: I live in Northern California. I know this particular kind of scenic beauty pretty well and yet whenever I ride the route, I’m thinking, Jesus, these are beautiful roads, thank you route planner, thank you higher powers, props to everyone involved for placing me in this majesty on my bike with all these new friends who let me draft off them for hours.
Ride it fast, take it slow, kill yourself on the climbs, hang out at the food and drink rest stops, glory in the scenery — there are plenty of people riding it just the way you wanna ride it. You need the bragging rights, do the 103 mile, you trained but don’t want to suffer too much, take the 75 mile, you prefer to enjoy yourself to the max and cruise with a smile, then take the piccolo at 32. It’s all good.
As they say in the marketing pitch, do yourself a favor, you’ve tried the rest now try the best, carpe fondo. Sign up now because the worse feeling in the world is getting shut out of the fondo because you decided to shop on Amazon or send a few emails instead of locking in the awesome-sauce good time that awaits. Fact: it always sells out and faster than you wish. Others will not be so foolish — they will take your rightful spot and regret is a dish best not eaten at all.
Okay, I’m out of adjectives and exhortations and if I go any more overboard I’ll drown in my own hyperbole. The time has come round and we find ourselves in that gratifying place again. Registration is open.
Levi’s Gran Fondo, October 4th, 2014.