Echelon Gran Fondo Recap

Wow – that was such a hard ride. AMAZING, but hard!  I felt good throughout the whole thing, but there were definitely times when my quads were screaming at me and my heart wanted to beat out of my chest. We really lucked out with the weather. Saturday was windy, rainy, and there was even hail out in the mountains where we would be riding. Sunday we woke up to clear, sunny skies! I had my vest and leg warmers, but decided to just leave them behind, and I am glad I did. I was chilly for the first few, shady miles, but after that I was totally comfortable.

We woke up at 5:45, had the usual breakfast of whole wheat toast, PB, banana and honey. And coffee. I had one piece of toast around 6:15, and the second piece in the car, around 7. We were so lucky to be able to stay at my aunts’ house which was only a couple miles from the start. That meant we got to sleep a little later and get dropped off right by the start. Getting ready!

We got to the start around 7:30, and everyone was just kind of hanging around. We tried to go meet up with Caitlin and Jenna, but got a little lost and decided to save our legs and wait for them by the start. We finally found them and it was great to meet the ladies. We all were a little nervous, and ready to ride!


The race got started about 15 minutes late, and we hung towards the back to avoid the madness that is a mass start. We saw a couple people bail in the first mile or so, just because it was crowded. Safety first, people!

The first 20 miles or so were glorious! Aaron and I both felt so fresh and were cruising along at about a 16-17 MPH average. I was glad we were getting a little head start, as I knew our average would take a nose dive once we hit the hills. There were 4 planned aid stations along the way, and we decided to skip the first stop because it was CROWDED. That is the benefit of being self-contained and carrying lots of food, gatorade and water with us.

We stopped around mile 25 to pee and eat some snacks. Then we started climbing – for like 40 miles! The course was totally empty. I am not sure how many people actually rode the 100 mile course (there was also a 30 and 60 mile option).

We did not a soul for 20 miles, and were pretty much alone for the last 80 miles. Except for this guy:

We stopped at the second aid station to fuel up for the big climb. I snagged two Oreos and they were delicious!

The big climb was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was 4.5 miles long and took me an hour to climb. That is 4.5 miles an hour. But I rode the whole way – no stops. I wanted to stop, but I knew that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to start again. I powered through and got a couple bursts of energy to get me to the top.

I was all excited about the power stop at the top of the hill.  There was talk of a band and a big celebration. I guess we got there a little too late, as they were already breaking down tables. Luckily there was still a lot of food left. I had some potato chips and an oatmeal raisin cookie while I waited for Aaron. He was right behind me and I was so happy to see him. At this point we knew the hardest part was behind us. Next year we will have to train harder so we can make it in time for the celebration.

After climbing 1,500 feet, we got to come back down. I got close to 40 MPH and it was so fun! I know Aaron loves the downhills, and watching him fly down the hill made me happy! 🙂 He actually clocked in at 43.2 MPH at his max. SCARY!

The last 30 or so miles were pretty much flat, but it was still a tough ride because we were tired, and ready to be done! Around mile 87, our cheering squad drove by. My family rode along side us for a bit and cheered us on. 8 hours and 15 minutes after we started, was returned to Downtown Napa and we finished!!

Then there was a lot of this

And we demolished this

Along with BBQ chicken, macaroni salad and green salad!

Thank you to everyone for the support, donations and encouragement!


13 thoughts on “Echelon Gran Fondo Recap

  1. John Greer says:

    You both are INSANE! The ride looked/sounded grueling but the scenery is so beautiful!



  2. Kate says:

    Wow- I hadn’t realised the climbs would be quite so epic! Now I want a turn 😉

  3. Sherwinator says:

    Awesome pics! And grats you two lovely peeps!

  4. Russ Davis says:

    This event was one of the best run events – that includes Ironman events. The Power Stops were perfect, other production company’s could learn from Echelon!! The sponsors and Echelon were superb and deserve an A+. I’m sore today, but I’m coming back for 100 miler next year… simply outstanding.

    • modernation says:

      I agree, Russ. Each power stop was really well stocked and staffed, and the SAG team was present and helpful (luckily we didn’t need the help). Wish I could have completed the course faster to take better advantage of the celebrations.

      • Linda Klein says:

        When my boyfriend got to Ink Grade Borat ran out to hug and welcome him to the Power Stop, “You did it!! Come in! You have Sexy time here!” LOL I guess it was a lonnng day for them and the band playing tunes in the sun. I love to use stuff like this for motivation to train harder. Next year you will smoke this thing and YOU will show Borat a sexy time!! Haaaa! Weren’t the turkey sandwiches on homemade bread from the CA Culinary Institute incredible? Mmmmmm…. REAL food!! This ride TOTALLY ROCKED and will just get better every year! You were Awesome to take it on, girlfriend! You Rock!

  5. You guys rock! I wish I could have been there to cheer you on. I think I would have been nervous going fast down hill but I am sure you were so ready to be going down and enjoyed the speed. You are such and inspiration to me. I look forward to hearing about the next event you plan to do. I am excited Aaron did the race too. So cool!

  6. […] 24, 2010 Come on! Sing it with me, people! Today was all about celebrating our hard work on yesterday’s ride and spend some relaxing time […]

  7. eatingRD says:

    awesome re-cap!!! It was an amazing ride for sure! Thanks again for sending those pictures 🙂 It was nice to meet you!

  8. Congratulations, bestie! What a great, grand adventure for you and Aaron! And so cool that you met Jenna and Caitlin. You’re famous!

  9. […] 5, 2010 Today was the first day I got back in the saddle since the century ride almost two weeks ago. It was a gorgeous day, but it was […]

  10. […] & Ivy. These photos are courtesy of Caitlin. It was so great to see Caitlin again. First the Napa Echelon Gran Fondo and now GOTR. I love that such great experiences bring us together! Blends […]

  11. […] and preparation compared to running.   When I started riding, I quickly got used to 50, 70, and 100 mile rides.  Those rides involve lots of prep, packing snacks, mixing sports drinks and a whole or […]

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