Cascades Gran Fondo 2012

The primary motivation for heading to Oregon in the first place was to attend this cycling event. I had no context for it. I just knew I liked the area and it has been a fantastic place to visit in the summer so I thought I would give it a try. I ended up enjoying it a lot.

The event turned out to be a a little smaller than I imagined it would be. As you can see in the photo of the start of the ride, there were maybe a couple hundred people in attendance. I’m not sure what I expected but I expected it would be larger – maybe many hundreds, even a thousand. The ride started at the Mt Bachelor ski resort parking lot. There was just a little bit of snow left up on the mountain but certainly not enough to ski on. The parking lot was otherwise barren except for those that were at the Gran Fondo.

The was some speechifying at the beginning of the ride but not much. Chris Horner is a pro that races for team RadioShack Nissan Trek and is the host of the Gran Fondo. He spoke a bit at the start and then we were off. Weather was ideal. Even up on Mt Bachelor the morning temps were fine. The photo of me here is with Chris Horner after the ride. Nice guy though we didn’t really chat more than a few words. He took off initially with the ‘Full Gran Fondo’ which was 75 miles. I chose to do the ‘Mid Gran Fondo’ (53 miles) and because the routes deviated, I never did see Chris out on the road. He was host and visited with people and consequently I finished before him because I was doing a shorter ride.

The ride was well supported and as you can see in the photo here the rest stop snacks were top notch. Water, fruit, chips, cookies… plenty of stuff.

A Gran Fondo is a timed event like a race but it’s an open event than anyone can attend and in that respect it was organized and felt just like any charity ride I do around Austin. But being timed, there was competition and prizes for winners. The 75 miles took off fast and raced the whole way. Even though I was on a shorter ride the race group (which was maybe a dozen strong) passed me well before I neared the finish.

Climbing back up to Mt Bachelor toward the end of the route was a pretty good slog but it was not all that bad. The grade was steep but not horrible. The annoying thing was just the traffic. That part of the route back to Mt Bachelor was more heavily traveled.

I ended up keeping pace with and riding with the same people most of the way. That’s not unusual with these kinds of rides. So when we finished the ride and loaded up on food, we ended up eating lunch together too. I didn’t recall enough about them to capture any notes here but it seemed they did this sort of event often. Food was pretty good and I was plenty hungry. I was glad to have finished the ride plenty early. The wind was starting to pick up and became a real annoyance as we ate lunch. Hard to keep your plate from blowing away.

I liked the route and would consider doing this again. Not sure I’d arrange it so I’d go back to the Gran Fondo or not. I guess it would depend when it’s scheduled, but I’d definitely go back to that part of Oregon again and cycle. It’s beautiful countryside.

This final shot is of Mt Bachelor in the distance along the ride.

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