I have fallen a little behind on my travel reports and my only excuse is that I have been traveling too much to find time to write. Let me use this post to follow up on my experience in Boone with the Gran Fondo. First, if you have not been to Boone, then it is worth the trip even if you are not a road or mountain biker. The town is a wonderful little college town with a variety of local restaurants, a growing number of brew pubs and beautiful scenery. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, and Grandfather Mountain are just minutes away.
Of course, I came for the Gran Fondo. This was my first experience with the Gioranda Gran Fondo National Championship Series. I can only speak to Boone but they were outstanding. The registration was a breeze and the start was perfect with a police escort out of the city and onto the rural roads. Think of one of the neutral start zones in the Tour de France. Just like one of those zones, a large number of riders attempted a break as we hit the start of the first timed section.
The course itself was beautiful, challenging and satisfying. While I did not stop to take many photos, the course through the Blue Ridge was beautiful and included several scenic views. The climbs were challenging without being brutal. The course left you with a sense of satisfaction as the climbs fell behind you and you moved closer to the finish.
Indeed, the first 35 miles of the 60 mile medio route were perfect. As I completed a long climb to the top of a ridge at mile 35 the heavens opened with one the strongest rain storms I have ever had the misfortunate of riding under. As I descended the next 5 miles looking for shelter I could not see more than a few feet ahead and my brakes simply would not grip. It was a wild ride down to Lees-McRae College where I took refuge at the entrance of the athletic center and called Alla. My Gran Fondo was over.
While my Gran Fondo became a Petit Fondo, I really enjoyed the experience and wish I could have ridden the last 20 miles. Still, it is better to live to ride another day which I am doing now as I prepare for another cycling trip to Thailand. In the meantime, let me share a few fotos from the fondo.