Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Sea Otter Gran Fondo - 96 miles in the books!!



Time has finally come for the big Sea Otter Gran Fondo.  Going into the ride, I felt pretty intimidated because of all the climbing.  But I felt I trained properly by hitting the hills of Napa.  So onto the ride... there was about 360 riders doing the long gran fondo.  The first 5 miles were climbing out of Laguna Seca area.  Descending down to the flats, I witnessed a wicked crash.  I believe a guy leaned off too far and headed parallel into a ditch.  As he was trying to stop, he went over his handlebars and flipped a couple times.  I was not able to stop to help because there was a big pack behind me.  So I just kept going.  The last section to the flats was pretty scary because it was mostly gravel.  You had to find a path that seemed to have a harder pavement under the gravel.  We then made it to the flats passing the fields of growing produce.

The first rest stop is usually packed with people getting food and having a bathroom break.  So my goal is to just hit the bathroom and go so I can beat the bigger groups to the second stop.  In the flats, I pretty much drafted from group to group until I found a faster pack to stick with.  I pretty much stayed with a group of 4 people going 18-20mph until the second stop.  Second to third stop was hill climbing.  I was by myself most of the time but always talking to people I pass or people who pass me.  Third stop was just water on the way to the summit.  I endured two cramps going up to the summit.  I refueled on the 4th stop just at the top of Mt. Cahoon.

Downhill from the summit was fun with twisty, secluded roads.  I ended up following a guy from the third to fourth stop.  This stopped me from going too hard on the flats because thats what I tend to do when I am by myself.  The 4th and last stop was at the Laureles Lodge.  They had a pool open to those who wanted to take a dunk before the last climb.  After that stop, it was a short but STEEPER climb up the Laureles Grade. That hill killed my legs.  I felt I could keep going, but the cramps made me stop 3 times going up. There was a steep downhill section before heading to the flats.  I pumped my brakes heading down, but ended up going no brakes half the way down. Before going back into Laguna Seca, there were 5 sets of rolling hills. Those killed my legs again.  I ended up finishing in 97 out of 360 people and 5th in my 25-30yr old male category.

I am pretty happy with my results and the ride organization.  The stops had a lot of good food including bananas, PB&J, cookies, gel packs, food bars, and Heed drink.  

The car is full on the way down to Monterey.

The entry band for the Expo and Athletes.

Pickup my packet.

Bathroom break before lining up.

All set!!

The finishers medal.


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