Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gran Fondo

I am still alive, it's been a busy summer. I have been using an iPad since January and seldom use my PC anylonger. BUT it is not conducive to writing my blog, at least I am not able to write and save a draft. I seldom sit down at the PC these days. I had one lengthy draft, that just vanished. Not fun, as typing is laborious for me. So that is my alabi. I did check off one more of Sonoma Countys classic climbs. The Geysers. It is a remote corner of the county that has a lot of geothermal activity. The ridgetop is about 2500' and we start the ride at 120' round trip that day was 70 miles and hot a good ole' upper 90s but thankfully low humidity. Draining just the same its hard to make the change to heat after temps 10-15 degrees lower. One interesting factoid is the county pumps wastewater up there, and into the earth, the ensuing steam is used to turn turbine generators producing alot of electricty. The area is as stated, remote, no water for 20-30 miles but the uncluttered views make up for it, if one is prepared. The climbing is very strenuous in places and corespondingly treacherous on descents, if one messes up no one will find you for a long time, very little road traffic. Now for a Levi's King Ridge Gran Fondo wrap up. It was last Saturday Oct 1. This year I did the Gran (103 mi.) version in '09 I did the Medio (65 mi.) route. the big has probably 60% more climbing a total of 8000+' total. This is in another remote corner of the county. It is a big county by Eastern standards at almost 1800 sq. mi. We climbed up and over a coastal ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean twice. 7500 registered riders took off I think 6000 do the Gran route. The start is amazing, as we are lined up about 15 riders abreast, it took over 15 min. to even start moving. the first 5 miles are on two lanes of flat road and closed to traffic so it opens up quite quickly until that first hill! Things progressed fine as I moved into the King Ridge climb proper. I had purposely held back exertions to save for later, and was feeling good. Sunny became cloudy, became drizzle became wind and rain in the next hour plus of climbing. No stopping at the top because of cold and the rest stop would require clogging my cleats on the moistening earth. Now down a twisty 20% dropinto the coastal redwoods, but hold on, a crash has already caused a major log-jam. A mass of riders clomp across a metal grate-decked bridge to resume climbing/sizable rollers to a lunch stop with an amazing variety of foods, but its chilly and fog is settling in so I don't stay long. A screaming descent to the coastal highway finally comes and light overcast and warmer temps, but my energy now seems pretty much gone at 65 miles in. The rest of the ride is fortitude and experience shared with a host of others, some I pass and others passing me. The big climb back over the coastal ridge is cruel but quick and I eventually make it back to the finish line festival. Was all that a dream?! The following pictures are from those areas, but the King Ridge ones were from a clear warm day!