I have to give Runningmania credit for steering me towards races and rides that I might have not otherwise found and those events lead of others. So in the spirit of taking my turn at the front of a pace line, I felt obliged to provide a quick report, really more of a recommendation for the ATB Highwood Pass Gran Fondo.
The Highwood Pass Gran Fondo has a elevation gain of around 1,400 meters and take one the highest paved road in Canada. The early bird special pricing is $145. At one time, that included a jersey but starting this year it did not. As a side note, jersey is $79 and is decent enough as I did actually need a new one or will so in the near future.
As you can imagine, one travels through mountain valleys with incredible scenery. We are having a heat wave and so it was amazing to climb above some residual snow. Although this is a "ride", you get a timing chip and there is a race aspect to it. Having said that, there is race start at 7:00 am and then the starting block of moderate and mellow at 7:10 am. There were 259 who started and finished so there should be a group one can attach themselves to according to their level. I am a middle of pack cyclist and had no problem finding groups on the climb up. I took my turn at the front of a small group and felt very strong and good so stayed there for some time. When I finally pulled over, I had been dragging around 20 other cyclists and so that will go into the memory bank.
Three check points with all the standard fare. At the last one, 104 K into the race and my longest ride to date had been 105 K, I was a little wobbly coming in. A volunteer rushed out, made sure I was okay. Then she took my bike to the rack, refilled my water bottle and put it back on the bike and thus I could concentrate of refuelling and bracing myself for the last 30 K. Total distance being 134 K.
I believe this was the 7th anniversary. This year they added a 69 K distance. With other rides in the Calgary area, MEC, Wheels for Wells, Ride Don't Hide at $45 for 30 - 105 K, $125 for a very nice but not great ride is too much. But, the price for the 134 K is worth it as a must do, wish list, once in a lifetime sort of event. Where else can you feel good about going up an 8% grade and feeling good because as slow as you are going, at least you are not walking your bike up as one other rider had to do.
One last note on why to do this event: The 8 % grade meant I hit 79.2 kph on the decent with me sitting up and tapping the brakes as it felt very, very fast. That decent alone is akin to a thrill ride and could alone justify the price of admission.
We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly!
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