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Monday, November 26, 2018

Event Report: Levi Gran Fondo 2018

In recent years, I've given up on doing centuries and other organized rides. Not only have prices gone up from a manageable $20-$30/entry to $60-70/entry, having to bundle the kids into the car and move the bike has much less appeal to me than going on a club ride and riding with people we know.

This year, however, the Levi Gran Fondo was free for the kids (and for anyone under 24). That made the price palatable, since that meant Bowen and Boen were free. The Gran Fondo is nice because the roads were closed for the first 2 hours, and you got a police escort. I also figured that the mass start event would be a good experience for Bowen, since regular club centuries aren't mass start events.
We drove up the day before, stayed overnight at an overpriced hotel, and got up bright and early to park the car and ride to the start. The official start time was at 8:00am, but with 3000+ cyclists, it took us 10 minutes to stride through the traffic jam to get to the point where we could ride. Even then, there were way too many times when we had to slow/brake in order to avoid shaking looking cyclists.

At the first rest stop, John McDowell and Davis caught up with us. After that rest stop, the route split up and now the roads were open, but there were still CHP officers at every intersection controlling traffic, which made for a great experience. The coast was clear and gorgeous, as expected in early October.

At the second rest stop John and Davis caught up with us and we decided to ride together. John had rented the tandem from the bicycle outfitter, and they had setup the bike wrong. Davis' left pedal had been placed into the shortest slot in the crank shorteners, but his right was on the next to longest slot, which meant that he couldn't reach the pedals at the bottom of the stroke. It was too late to do much, as much pedal cranks which were part of the S&S wrench wouldn't do much for removing pedals that had been put on by a bike shop, so they had to climb Coleman Valley road this way. Davis got so frustrated at times that he would put his right foot on the top tube.
But we didn't have to stop or walk on the climb, and we passed a few adults who'd had to walk, so I thought we did pretty well. At the top of the climb, a SAG wagon showed up and John and Davis stopped to fix the pedals while Bowen and I rode on to the last rest stop. We took a short break there and rode to the finish slowly, having been worn out by our efforts. On the final run to the finish on the bike path, Bowen said, "Dad, does your butt hurt? Mine does." I told him to stand up to unload his butt, and that took care of the problem long enough for us to reach the finish, where Xiaoqin told us that Boen had ridden the entire 10 miles of the family route on his own!
After eating a late lunch and getting ice cream, we piled everyone back into the rental van for the ride home. All in all, it was a good ride, but I think I'd still rather do Coleman Valley road as part of the Western Wheeler 2-day camping trip!

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