This past weekend, I had the opportunity to ride with Five Ten's own Greg Minnaar. Luckily for me it was not in his natural habitat (going downhill really fast). This weekend’s ride was going to take place on pavement with skinny tires. This was not just any ride, it was Levi's King Ridge Gran Fondo. The term "Gran Fondo" is Italian for "great background", but most often loosely translated to mean "Grand Ride". Levi's King Ridge Gran Fondo’s 7500 riders and incredible scenery translates to an incredible experience.
The decision to attend the ride wasn't really made until I pulled out of the driveway at 11:00 pm on Friday. I'm still not sure if riding 60 miles with 4000 ft of climbing on 2.5 hours of sleep was a very bright idea. The drive went smooth and I arrived about an hour and half before the ride was set to start.
Linking up with Greg in a crowd of 7500 riders was not easy to say the least. I managed to slowly squeeze my way through the VIP section and got to with twenty feet as they turned us loose. The rest of the distance was closed cautiously by using some crit racing skills to weave through the mass of humanity. The next goal was to move towards the front for safety and to say hello to a few old friends.
Greg and I split off from most of our group to ride the shorter 60 mile route instead of doing the full 100 miler. I found out pretty quick that Greg doesn't like to go slow, even on a road bike. The only rest I got was when Greg flatted and stopped to repair his tire. The flat repair break allowed Forrest from MTBR.com to catch up and ride with us until the next rest stop.
Overall the ride was an epic experience. The management and volunteers were friendly and very accommodating. The chance to ride with Levi Leipheimer, Lucas Euser, Jason McCartney, Alison Tetrick Starnes, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Patrick Dempsey and many others doesn't happen very often. Greg Minnaar proved to be an incredible rider, even on 23mm tires going uphill. I'm sure next time we ride together he will be the one waiting for me at the bottom of a trail.
Note: Huge thanks to my friends at DZ Nuts and Greg Fisher from Levi's GF for making my entry at the last minute even possible.