Coming off the Belgium Waffle Ride in late April I was left with a what’s next type of feeling due to being really happy with my performance for the little bit of time that I had on the bike for such a massive ride. I quickly had a better base built up and I was motivated. So what was next? The Peter Sagan Grand Fondo in Truckee, California is what I felt would be the next event that I needed to test my self and my unique Intense Cycles bike set up.
In a very short time I rallied three guys that I knew would be down for such an epic event. My good friends Victor Sheldon, Greg Matherly, and Larry Hoist all I agreed to share the cost of the 9 hour trip from southern California to Northern California for this one day 1stannual gravel grand fondo. We left Thursday afternoon and got up to Truckee just after Midnight where we stayed in one of Victor’s family members amazing vacation home. I woke Friday with the smell of fresh mountain air and no coffee! I grabbed the van keys and pinned I into town to get breakfast and coffee for my senior citizen friends. I got back started making up some eggs, bacon, sausage, and coffee for the ol’ boys before we headed to the venue at the new Truckee airport where 100% was set up with there event support rig for registration. Truckee is on the North side of Lake Tahoe with some of the most impeccable mountain biking and cycling around, so after we got registered we went and did a little pre-run of the course so we had an idea for the terrain we were in for the next day.
We did about 20 miles of the course then we pulled over on the side of the road to check out an amazing river tucked back in the hills. It was a great time to just sit back and relax. I had a lot on my mind as of lately and those few minutes were needed to calm my brain! On the way back to the venue we stopped by skiing legend and friend of ours Daron Rahlves amazing house that was just off the route. Daron is not only a Olympic skier but a very accomplished Dirt Bike rider in his own right. We were hungry so Darren had us head back to the venue and eat the Red Truck restaurant. I was pumped on the food here with an amazing setting, and clean food. I couldn’t believe that while eating lunch I was able to meet 2 times US National Champ and overall cycling legend Levi Leipheimer. Levi took some time to talk two wheels with us before we headed back to the House for the night.
It was race/ride day and headed to the venue where we were greeted with brisk morning temps and a slew of cyclist on all types of set ups. That’s the beauty of an event like this. You need to pick a set up that you are comfy with iin the terrain the will scare you the most. I rode the same bike that I rode at the BWR but went to a tire with more of a knobby on it. The course was about 40% dirt consisting of some very rough dirt roads, single track and a nasty 5 mile climb that was pretty much all rocks, mud and loose soil. The group took off and I couldn’t believe that I was in a group with Peter Sagan, Levi Leipheimer and other world-class riders. The pace was steady early but it started to ramp up before the dirt and I was a little nervous about that. No disrespect but most roadies are very sketchy on dirt, and I didn’t know how this group was going to handle the transition form road to the first sketchy dirt road. Luckily it went fine but it quickly turned into a dust bowl as if we were racing the Baja 1000. There was a few big crashes in the first 10 miles of riding luckily I stayed clear of them. We got back on the road at Stampeded Meadows road where the pace picked up and I worked hard to stay with the lead group. I was hanging in there until a little climb of the start of the 29 mile dirt section. Once I lost touch with the lead group and settled in and started to take in some of the amazing riding we were getting to ride. There was a single track that we hit that was a little over 2 miles long that was so flowy and smooth that I was just smiling the entire time. That smile quickly turned to pain when we hit the 4.6 mile rocky ass climb that would be half way of the ride. This climb had it all! Mud, rocks, sand, water, and more ROCKS! My bike set up was amazing through here. I could run a very low gear and stay seated for traction on the slippery rocks where the traditional gravel grinders would spin out and take a lot of effort to keep their cadence. This was the section that mentally broke my triathlete frined Greg Matherly! He was pissed lol!!! I reached the top of the climb where I would see Peter and a few of his teammates taking photos with people. I couldn’t resist asking Peter for a pic so I grabbed the GoPro and prayed my selfie would come out ok. I quickly grabbed my pic and continued on so I wouldn’t get tight and cramp. The rest of the ride was pretty un eventful until the last bit of the dirt section where we rode threw basically a river. We made it through the river and I hit the pavement for a smooth ride back.
So what are my thoughts of the event? The course was great for me because it had a lot of dirt and some technical sections that would weed out the roadies. The aid stations were in great spots and had everything you would need from hydration, to food so you wouldn’t need to carry much on you. The over all length of the Bone Yard ride “longer of the two rides” was good because of how much dirt there was. With your entry you got a meal ticket for after the race that I was pumped on as well. All in all I don’t have a complaint about the event and recommend it to everyone who like gravel grinders.
I finished the `68.3 mile 5,095ft of climbing ride in 4:26 minutes. 13th out of 67 riders in my 30-39 class. I was really stoked on how my body felt through out the ride and that I finished strong. Our group crushed it as a whole! Victor Sheldon was 3rdoverall in the event first in class. Larry Hoit won his class in the Grinder route and well Greg, He got to ride into the finish with Peter Sagan after wanting to throw his bike in the rocky section
Frame- Intense Cycles Hard Eddie 29er with Carbon rigind fork
Drive Train- Sram 1-12 Eagle 36t front chain ring
Wheels- 29er Novatec Flow trail
Grips- ODI F1 series
Tires - WTB Nano
Chain Lube - Chain Pro
Helmet- Bell Z20
Glasses- 100% Speedtrap
Lycra Kit- 100% Strike Kit
Shoes- Sidi Shot Matt
Socks- 100% Terrain Socks
Gloves - 100% Ride Camp