Time to dust this thing off….
Gran fondo, multi-strada, adventure ride. These are a few examples of an ongoing trend that is continuing to increase in popularity. I must admit when I was first introduced to this concept, I did not fully understand why someone would want to participate in these types of rides. A little bit of context to the typical structure:
- They are usually in the triple-digit price range.
- They offer many organized rest stops and sag support every once in a while.
- There is usually no additional road closure for the duration of the ride.
This isn’t including the details of the ride itself. Now before I swing things back in a positive direction, I want to set a scene that may cause some apprehension to your everyday, routine cyclist. I too was in this same camp for some time. That is until I discovered a little more context.
Try and follow me on this one, but these longer duration, structured rides are not just about the ride (I know, strange concept right?) It is more about the grand scheme of things. One must take into consideration the scenery that is covered over the course of the route. While some (most people I know) like to see how fast they can complete the event, the understanding I have come to conclude is that if the participant just takes into account a portion of the ride profile and scenery along with the offered rest stops and ride support, the entire event can be a pleasant experience.
Rides like San Diegos Belgian Waffle Ride has grown tremendously in popularity despite a recent issue involving the placement of podium girls that was uncomfortable to say the least. That being said, these over four hour death marches seem to be popping up more and more. Often times rides will mix the terrain of Tarmac and dirt, adding an added challenge to the rider. It’s mixes of terrain that start to get my attention and get my heart going.
These rides are long, tough, and (in my observations) brought out the sadistic strongmen the sport has come to know, admire, and be known for. When I was first trying to figure the appeal of rides like these, a term was mentioned to me that I believe defines the appeal perfectly.
“Spirited social” was what was put down for this weekend’s birthday trudge through a mix of dirt and concrete roads that just tipped the century scales. Spirited implies that the pace will not be a yawn-fest that will take all day. And social means that people won’t be dropping the hammer so hard that those around them won’t be able to say more than three words at a time without gasping for air. This Goldie Locks setting lift the majority of social pressures that come from conventional bike racing. The fast riders get to go fast, and the slower riders get to go at their own pace. All without anyone getting their feelings hurt. It’s the best of both worlds and all parties are aware (and have a blast the majority of the time.)
This has recently sparked some seriously nerdy bike take and fascination for myself personally. I do genuinely enjoy this and am currently more drawn to this type of cycling than traditional USAC or fixie events. I would go as so far as to say that these cool-guy fondos are to road / mountain / cross riders what fixed gear criteriums are to the fixie crowd. Multiple disciplines get to have their cake and eat it too. I am getting a much bigger sense of satisfaction and wholeness in these type of rides at the moment and look forward to see what the future has to offer. What an exciting time to be alive.
Until next time….