March, 7 was the San Diego Gran Fondo. They advertise: “it’s a ride, not a race”. Meaning, the roads are not cleared and you’re expected to obey traffic laws. I cycled the 53 mile route.
The weather was horrible. I arrived at the starting line a little after 6 AM expecting the Fondo to start at 7 AM as was posted. Rather the start wasn’t until 7:25 AM at which time groups of 200 were released to start. I didn’t get started until about 30 minutes later.
The conditions were awful. I was soaked through before I crossed the starting line. My toes, ears and fingers were numb ten miles in. This made changing my flat at mile 19 challenging. I gave up on changing it myself after I broke my tool for stripping the rubber off the rim. Thankfully, I managed to hitch a ride from a surfer back to the aid station a mile back and had it fixed at the Colnago sponsored support station. It seemed every mile there was, at least, one cyclist with a flat. Perhaps this is typical, but the Fondo being my first organized ride I’m not sure if this is more or less than usual.
The best part of the ride was through Otay Ranch where clouds packed the peaks of the Otay preserve. It was gorgeous. Shortly after Otay I somehow managed to detour off course. It took me ten miles to weave my way through traffic in old Chula Vista and National City to get back on course. In the end my detour added five miles to my ride and I cycled 58 miles in 3 hours and 35 minutes.
The Gran Fondo was very well organized. The aid stations were stocked with helpful support persons who braved the elements alongside those of us cycling with a smile. My only complaint: mark the course with more signs. The only signs I saw were at turns and often there was only one small sign. The organizers should mark the course intermittently with signs (not only at turns) and when there is a turn there really should be a few signs to mark the turn. I am certain I wasn’t the only person who veered off course as I heard several others complaining about how poorly marked it was.
All in all, the Grand Fondo was great fun, even with the horrible weather. Sign On San Diego has a write up about the event. I am considering the Sea Otter Classic Gran Fondo in Monterrey next month, but I’m not certain my work schedule will permit this.