A few weeks ago I took a last minute trip East to embark on a mountain bike adventure with my dad- an organized mountain bike Gran Fondo, or "great distance" ride. A celebrated ride format in Europe, the Gran Fondo is just catching on over here across the pond. This particular Gran Fondo, organized by Bicycle Sales and Service , a North Idaho bike shop, offered a number of distance options- 10 miles, 17, miles, 35 and 50- to explore the trails at 4th of July Pass, just east of Coeur d' Alene. Dad had called me a week prior to ask if I was interested. I said maybe, let him know I'd get back to him, but he called three days later to let me know he had signed us both up for the 35 mile option. I had no choice but to hoof it over the mountains to join him, or face serious shaming.
Chad and I left Seattle at about 7:30 on Friday night, putting us in to Spokane about midnight. A night cap with buddies resulted in my staying up until about 1:30 am, leaving just four hours of sleep before dragging myself out of bed time to make it out to my dad's and meet him before the start of the race. Eesh. I'm definitely getting too old to do long endurance rides on that short of sleep.
We rolled into the parking lot at the top of Fourth of July Pass at about 8:15 am, which gave us plenty of time to register, eat and stretch before the official start of the ride.
|A bit of a festive feel greeting us at the starting line|
|Dad getting his stretch on- he's gotta keep that 'ol back of his limber.|
We took off for our first lap, a 10 mile warm up loop to the south of I-90, with some up and down rollers but nothing too crazy. There were about 25 other riders opting for this distance and we left the start together then settled into our own pace. I was amazed at the diversity- a rage of ages and lots of women represented, which was something you don't always see at mountain bike events.
|Some ladies of team REP getting ready to ride (photo borrowed from the event album).|