Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jedermann Gran Fondo 30 Bike Course

Don't even ask me what that all means in the title.  I read about it but quickly forgot.  OK, I decided to look it up again.  Here is what I found.

Gran Fondo's are mass participation cycling events that have enjoyed incredible popularity in Europe for decades and are beginning to gain momentum in North America and beyond.
Gran Fondo means many things to many people. Loosely translated, it means everything from "great foundation", “great distance” or “great endurance.” It can be a full-on race, or just a ride. It’s both a sporting event and a cultural experience. And it’s truly Italian. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
Gran Fondo's were invented in Italy in the early 1900's and have been part of Italian cycling culture and tradition for over 100 years. 

I guess we are participating in something that has a great history.  We started the day with a free pancake breakfast.  Judie, Sheila and Jackie!  I have to say right now that Judie finished 2nd for the 30 mile riders.  One man ahead of her and that was it!!!



We visited until it was time to go.  The 66 mile group and the 100 mile group started earlier than we did.  30 miles for us.
Walking to the start line not knowing what was in store.  The distance didn't bother me and I knew I need some hill training.  So here we go!
I apologize to the lady in blue for the view but I have never been escorted by police cars before so I had to get a picture.  That was a first!
 The long and winding road!

Beautiful views.  Lots of rolling hills, some short and some not so short!  Hill practice was going great.  Even though the hill training was going great we were at the back of the pack.  These bikers were very nice and very good, that includes Judie Engel.  Sheila was so nice and waited for me on several occasions! It was hot and the wind was blowing right at us which made things a bit more difficult.
Frank and I became close personal friends.  He rode behind the last group or person to make sure everyone was OK.  I told him I was totally fine, just slow!  He said he was slow too.  Trying to make me feel better.  Actually, I didn't feel bad at all.
At one water stop I mentioned to Sheila I did not like the bike adjustment that was made to my handlebars.  I said I was headed to the bike shop to get them raised like they were after the ride.  Frank to the rescue.  He fixed them and I was on the road again and much more comfy!
This is the "He.. Hill according to Sheila.  Pretty right on.  Steeper than Doomdsay Hill in the Bloomsday race but not quite as long.  I had to get off and walk.  Too much for me!
Frank waiting for me!  Thanks Frank.  I did mention to him I had his phone number in my cell phone.  What?  I told him on the website it said if you had problems Frank was the 30 mile helper.  Hmmm.  He didn't know that was published and said he had been ignoring his phone.

This was one of the hardest if not the hardest bike ride I have ever done.  I never wanted to quit or felt like I couldn't do it but the rolling hills got harder as the miles added up.  When you work hard at something and see the finish line it feels good to work like that and get it done!  Wind, heat and hills didn't stop any of us!  We all got it done!  Felt so good to see the finish line and I was still smiling! I was the last 30 miler to finish!

 This is the smile of someone who got 2nd place in the 30 mile bike ride!  This was a hard ride.  Congratulations Judie!!!
 The Cook's were doing some timing at the end of the race.  Come on Dave!!!  Can we see your wife?

 About three hours for us.  10 MPH average.  Not bad for rookies at Gran Fondos!

 Massages, a band  at the end of the line.

 Lots of yummy snacks!

We all got pint glasses at the end of the race and a free glass of beer if we wanted it.  I was riding back to the car with my glass in hand! Headed up a hill in the wrong gear, shifting was not happening and I got slower and slower.  Tried to clip out of my bike pedals and didn't.  I went over.  I was totally fine but one foot was still clipped on my bike pedal.  Sheila finished the hill and came back.  I was still laying on the ground with one foot clipped in attached to my bike. She had to upright the bike so I could un-clip my shoe.  The glass was shattered.  I got in my car and went back to ask if I could get another one.  Dave Cook was still there.  "You fell on the way back to your car?"  Yes, I did.  "Well at least you didn't pass out this time."  I did not pass out at the Windermere!!!!!  I got a new glass!  Happy ending! Sort of!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We Escaped the Heat on the Hiawatha Trail

It's too hot to ride the Hiawatha trail, It's going to be hot, leave early.  It wasn't hot at all.  So glad we went!  It was a first for Freida Cook!  I love firsts!  Sheila, Jackie and Freida!  The first challenge was getting three mountain bikes on my 4 bike rack.  There is no way 4 bikes would fit on this rack.  Ever!  Three big bikes were a challenge but it got done.  
 The traditional chain oil picture! Look closely it's there!
 Here we go!  It was 67 degrees when we arrived at the beginning of the trail.
 Such cute smiles!  Love these ladies!


 Entering the trail!
The first and longest, darkest, tunnel.  1.7 miles of darkness.  I discovered that the lights I brought were not sufficient.  Sheila rode right in front of me and Freida was behind me letting their light shine on me!

 There goes Sheila!  You will see many pictures of Sheila out in front!

The first tunnel was a bit wet and muddy.  Some of us were effected by that more than others.  Sheila had no mud on her clothes!  As for Freida and I a different story!  Freida was way worse obviously!


 There she is again the fearless leader through the dark, dark tunnels!


This guy and all of his cousins visited us at every stop we made.  No food for you!  Don't feed the wild animals!
 What a view!

 This trestle is one of the trestles we would be crossing later on the ride.
 We stopped and read the signs along the way telling about the history of the area!

I was standing on a trestle and tried to get a picture of how far down it was.  I didn't want to get too close to the edge even though it was very protected.  Didn't get the full effect!

This area tells the story of a fire in the forest when a train was passing through.  One man panicked and jumped out of the train car and...well, not a good decision.  He did not survive.




 My new camera takes selfies!
More sign reading.  Ask Sheila and Freida, they know all there is to know about the history of the trail.



Love this picture.  This was a short tunnel so there was some light.  You can see the sides of the tunnel and Sheila at the end of it.
 There she is again, the fearless leader!
 We made it!  Now the bus ride back up the mountain to our cars!

One last tunnel.  You get to ride through the very first tunnel (the one at the start) after the buses drop you off.  Sheila was having issues with her headlamp!  Glad she figured it out because she was my guiding light.


 Clothing and bikes muddy!
As we always do we have to stop someplace after our outings.  Ian (who was the guide for our zip lining a year ago) told me his brother's restaurant was pretty new and great!  Boy was he right.  Such good food.  I highly recommend the Nook in Wallace, Idaho.
Guess who was there!  Ian!  So good to see him again!  A great guy!  We have communicated this past year because he had someone in his family with ALS.  My one disappointment was no piano.  He is a great piano player and we got to hear him last year!
 Group shot!!!


We visited for a while and then headed back to Spokane!  I am so blessed with great friends in my life.  Even if they didn't know the song, The Long and Winding Road!  I thought we could all sing it on the bus ride.  Nope.  They didn't know it.  I still love them a bunch.  They are obviously younger than I am.