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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1

    First Gran Fondo

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    My husband is trying to convince me to register for the Vermont Gran Fondo. I think I could definitely do it from a skill level, but I am nervous about a group ride. I have only ridden by myself, or with one or two people. What are the essentials of doing something like this. I don't want to embarrass myself.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Montreal, QC
    Posts
    773
    Welcome.

    I always ride with husband. So never is huge crowds.

    But I did for the few outings we did that had 4000++ cyclists or one of 1000+.

    I had no issue but I kept my distance from others. I'm a good stable rider (at least this is what hubby says) so it did not worry me. You'll have to remember that not all cyclists leave at once. They generally leave by "speed" group, at least here. If you're fastest or slowest, you may be starting first group or last. So most of the other riders are already gone by the time you leave, or you have a headstart on them and they will pass you by the left (the norm anyway).

    Just enjoy the ride! No reason to embarrass yourself. Worst you can do is not finished and cry (like I did). But when you do (which I did too), the feeling is awesome.
    Helene
    Riding a 2014 Specialized Amira LS4 Expert - aka The Zebra!
    2015 Specialized Crux e5 - aka Bora Bora bike

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,828
    Well I've never done a gran fondo. If my understanding is correct, they are different from organized rides I have done in that you are timed. But I think they are generally the similar to the rides I've done.

    In general when you ride with a group, you want to be predictable and you want to communicate. Signal or say something before slowing down, stopping, moving left or right. Also signal or announce debris or obstacles on the road that people behind you need to know about, for example point down at a pothole or gravel as you approach it or say "gravel" or "pothole." If there are cars coming from behind you warn others with "car back." Cars coming toward you from the opposite direction are "car up." Be aware of what's going on around you -- if you want to move left or right, make sure there's no one behind you that might hit or cut off. Pay attention to the rear wheel of the bike in front of you -- if you touch wheels, the rider in back is likely to fall. If you pass someone, say "passing" or "on your left." If someone is passing you, hold your line. Signal before you turn.

    If it's show and go -- arrive at the start, sign in at registration, get ready to ride and leave when you're ready -- things are usually pretty low key at the beginning. There may be others around you but there likely won't be a big crowd. If it's a mass start, then everyone will start at the same time. They might group you according to the distance you're riding or the speed you expect to ride and start the groups in waves, but you'll still be in a crowd. This type of start is more tricky. You probably will go very slow at first so my might want to keep one foot unclipped in case you have to stop. Then for the first few miles faster riders who started behind you will be passing you. Typically things shake out after a while and there's less passing going on. You often end up with a few people who are riding the same pace as you, so you stay together for the ride, or at least until the rest stop, which can be nice if they're friendly. Occasionally I will end up riding with strangers who are erratic or annoying in some way, so I just slow down a bit or make an excuse to stop so they get ahead of me. But that's rare.

    I'm average when it comes to ride speed -- about 13ish to 14ish mph depending on terrain. For long organized rides, I often am actually one of slower riders out there. There have been times when I got caught up with the excitement and tried to hang with faster people. That's often not a good strategy because you end up exhausted before the end. Also you might see people riding in pace lines -- taking turns drafting off each other. If you're not experienced with pacelines, just hold your line and let them pass. It's best not to try to join them unless you're familiar with how they work.

    Since winter is approaching, I assume the ride you're looking at is sometime next year. If there's a bike club in your area or other organized rides before the gran fondo, it might be good to check them out so you can get used to riding in a group.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,828
    Quote Originally Posted by Helene2013 View Post
    Worst you can do is not finished and cry (like I did).
    More than once I have finished and also cried.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

 

 

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