OK team, time for an update! After much back-and-forth, I’m pleased to report that we were able to attend and complete an off-road team event.
The logistics for this type of event or challenging because there are so many distributed across the United States. And there are so many different ability levels and specific cycling interests inside the team.
The Alpine Loop Gran Fondo fits the bill simply because it has different distances of events and different terrain options. Something for everyone! And just 2h drive from IAD Dulles Airport makes is pretty accessible as well.
EB (Emily Brinkley) helped me lock in MOOSE, my trusty NC-resident bike…and all relevant cycling supplies. That plus mojo, friend time and all the smiles made for a great weekend.
Matt Limbert surprised my by jumping into the event. We spent 3-ish days together in all manner of cycling situations…and it made the event itself 10x more fun.
Thursday Night Arrival
This is a total debacle. From a three hour delayed flight to a ridiculous hybrid rental car that had no trunk space, what was intended to be a 12 midnight arrival time into Harrisonburg turned into us getting there at 3 AM.
Matt Limbert and I have agreed that we shall not speak of the food that we purchased and ate at the 24 hour convenience store on the way to our hotel.
Snitches eat burritos. I slept in until 9:45am!!!
Given the late start, we modified the day. Instead of doing a full 70 mile loop, we opted to do an out and back I’m a climb known as Reddish Knob. Seems pretty straightforward, until we started climbing.
What started out as a gentle grade quickly kicked up and made for 30 minutes of really tough work. \
Thankfully it was shaded, a theme that persisted with our climbs all weekend.
The majority of this road was paved but it was not easy. Approx 140 TSS.
Opted to travel out to hang with EB (Emily Brinkley) because EB! We get to meet some of her friends and had a great time catching up over coffee.
We took that opportunity to ride from Bryce resort, which resulted in another fantastic session.
We took a loop with some single track on it and added on some more gravel riding.
Approx TSS 140 again, with 50% of ride time climbing!
We did get a little lost…
But we found EB during her charity golf tournament…
Alpine Gran Fondo
With 90 miles and 9,000 ft of climbing in two days, we were clearly completely tapered for the Fondo itself. The Fondo is 110 miles with approximately 10,000 feet of climbing.
There were five categorized KOM’s and plenty of places to work and have fun along the way. I captured a video to sum up my experience across the aid stations:
Matt Limbert “told the story” of the ride .. instead of straight data … End it really worked!
I thought the narrative model was really effective at helping to set expectations to across what was going to be a long day.
The main themes of the story were that we were going to ride our specific numbers, not over-reach, and be really quick through the aid stations.
As you undoubtedly noticed in the video food saved my day.
There were plenty of places across the road where things got hard very quickly.
Seemingly flat and fun sections turned into time trial drag races.
Quick detours through the forest turned into dirt roads with 22% inclines. This is not a long ride for the weak of mind or spirit.
This was the real game-changer. Our ability to work within our limits meant we could recover…but it wasn’t easy.
There was plenty of carnage out there on display, it took a great deal of savvy and patience to make sure we didn’t end up similarly.
While it’s not a race in the traditional sense, the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo does have a cumulative timed section format that allows for competition. Surpisingly, I did fairly well overall and in the “top 5” range of my category! #plottingfor2022
We Will Be Back!
This was a great event in a world-class location. Aid stations were great, Harrisonburg had all the things, and there are multiple ride options (road vs gravel) as well as distances. This could become an end-of-season fixture, I won’t lie!
Thanks for reading!
ps – the Sleep PR? That was 8 hours for two consecutive nights after my red-eye flight home. Yep….8 hours ride time + 2 hour drive + 2 hour flight had me home at 12:30am! Zzzzzzzzzz