Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gran Fondo- Fun With Levi!

Images are here
Just a quick GranFondo update,

Think of a century ride that has the Gibraltar loop in it with the
Camino Cielo section twice as long. Amazing roads, amazing views with
the best paved decent you have ever seen followed by a 30 mph tailwind
along the coast. If that's not enough at 75+ miles throw in a shorter
version of Old San Marcos climb. I was happy riding in my 34-28 on
alot of climbs... The pros finished under 5 hours. After Levi pulled
for the first 50 miles, he pulled off to socialize in a couple of the
rest areas. It was one of the most organized and well attended "fun
rides" we all ever attended. The Chickens finished from 5:12
(Craig), 5:26 (me) and everyone else was close behind. More from the




Thank you,
Carson Blume
Carson Blume Photography, Owner
Digital Capture Systems, Owner Digital Production
Women's Cycling Magazine, Co-Founder / Photo Editor
Cat4Pro.com, Coming soon

It was long.

The highlight for me was watching Lettreri try to pump up Bob Roll's
rear tire at the start and another guy walks up and says, "I can help.
I'm a bike mechanic." He then proceeds to try to pump the tire up and
stops and says, "He needs a new tube." At which point Lettreri gets to
say, "It's a tubular." Priceless.

Other highlights:

1. Levi seemed stronger than most of the other riders.

2. I felt a bit gypped. It turned out it was only 102 miles but they
advertised 103 miles. Maybe they made up for it by advertising 6,500
feet of climbing when it was really 8,900 feet of climbing.

3. The course was perfectly marked. You knew right where to go. All
hazards were marked including steep downhills.

4. Levi's wife is 18 inches taller than he is. She also descends into
oncoming traffic. It must be a Euro thing.

5. Axel Merckx couldn't try hard enough to avoid me. In our little
pack I kept sneaking up next to him trying to start a conversation. I
now hate him also.

6. Bob Roll was the best. A pick-up truck honked at us and he yelled
back, "Bunch of retards".

7. I've never seen so many people walking their bikes up a hill. The
hill from Highway 1 back to Santa Rosa was unbelievably steep. It's
used in the AMGEN Tour. The street was still painted with "Basso
Cheat". My group got a big chuckle out of that one.

8. Lettreri has mellowed in his old age. We were supposed to meet
outside of the hotel at 7:20. At 7:23, Mitch and Nikola still were not
out with us and Lettreri was actually calmly waiting for them.

9. We at breakfast at 6:15 am two hours before the ride. The majority
of the other riders were already in their chamois. Assuming they
finished their ride around 3 pm, that would be a 9 hour chamois day.
That can't be healthy.

10. Thanks to Carson for getting lots of pictures of me coming out of
the port-o-potty.

11. At the end of the ride there was no water or food.

12. Friden arrived back at the hotel after the ride to shower. No more
than 5 minutes later Lettreri's truck jams out of the parking lot to go
home with Friden in it. We imagined Friden was still in his towel with
shampoo in his hair sitting in the back of the truck. Maybe Lettreri
hasn't mellowed with age.

13. Lettreri has his name written all over his jersey and I still don't
know how to spell it.

14. No fewer than 5 people asked me if we are sponsored by a brothel.

15. I suck at descending. My deep dish carbon wheels really helped in
the strong cross winds. Great equipment choice. Next time I think I
might bring my disc wheel.

16. Jurist is the best to travel with.

17. Dano, Jurist and I had dinner with my old LA riding buddies. Back
in the day they used to dominate bike racing. They finished this ride
in 7 hours. I guess some things change.

18. Everyone wearing a Levi Gran Fondo jersey walked their bike up at
least one hill. Don't buy the ride jersey! It slows you down.

19. Who won the polo field sprint on Sunday?

20. At mile 95, they had you turn off the well paved road onto a gravel
bike path. True story. The sign said don't worry, it's only 1 mile
long. Only 1 mile? Try riding on rocky gravel for 1 mile after already
being in the saddle for 5 hours. Two of the local pros who had been
pulling my group for oh, about 2 hours straight, flatted on the gravel.
Sweet. I beat them.

21. I suck at descending. I was so bad I needed to say it twice.

Thanks to Lettreri for getting me my entry. I'd like to do more of
these rides.


1. No Problem on the porta pot shot!
2. I think I would have been less wiped if I had done the ride than shot it.
3. Welcome to NORCAL!
4. Levi's wife beat Dave, and kicked Allison Sterns but down the hills and most of the guys, that is hot!
5. Could we get sponsored by a brothel?
6. We, David Walls and my self, on the moto also got waived onto the dirt path, that was "fun"
7. tubular! that is priceless!

Thank you,
Carson Blume
Carson Blume Photography, Owner
Digital Capture Systems, Owner Digital Production
Women's Cycling Magazine, Co-Founder / Photo Editor
Cat4Pro.com, Coming soon

The list has gotten exhaustive, but let me add:
Great photo #158 Paul next to Levi. Great job just to get that close to him, let alone timing it with Carson to be there. Dave seemed to be more preoccupied with riding next to Levi’s wife and the other blond pro. Other reports:

1. Bling, the people you saw walking up the final climb were the medio fondo riders who had ridden only about 25 miles up to that point. By the time I got to there, it was all gran fondo riders, and to my amazement no one was walking even though that seemed to me to be the more sensible thing.
2. I was just lucky that I was able to shower and get a towel around me. Last one back rides home in a wet towel.
3. Mitch spent most of the ride taking in the amenities at the rest stops and he still beat me in.


Hats off to Dave for orchestrating the "Great Train Robbery" start strategy. After getting the distinct feeling that the 2 by 2 start of the ride might take several hours to accomplish, Lettieri gets our group to stage around the corner from the start in front of a fire station. There was already a large group there and we figured they were interested in the same "drop in". Turns out they were the marshals for the ride, but were cool enough to recognize the incredible athleticism and riding savvy that a whore house cycling team represents (not to mention that Blinger had already built a reputation as a Santa Rosa bar fighter) and allowed us to stay put. Dave went back to the start, glad handed his way to the front of the pack and as they came around the corner starts yelling for us to jump in. Thusly, we were excused from the mayhem, shouting and carbon crunching sounds heard a ways back in the field.

As far as the best to travel with, it's an old story: easy trumps pretty.


Here is a little video from my Fondo experience... it's on You tube.
(shot on my iPod Nano, produced on iMovie)
------ look for Dave's cattle call: "go go go" - Priceless.


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