99.7 miles and qualifying for a world championship
I’d always assumed a Gran Fondo was the bike equivalent of a volksmarch. A chance for a leisurely ride in the countryside. I was wrong.
An Alabama century I’ve done for several years, the Cheaha Challenge, became a Gran Fondo. And not just any Gran Fondo, the U.S. qualifier for the world championships in France. So when the guy in the Rapha kit — and my age group — passed me on the last climb … well, that could not stand.
I passed him on the descent and drilled the last few miles to gap him. It was a hard ride; the climbs split everyone up and I was alone in no man’s land for about 75 miles.
I couldn’t stop for a picture of the vista from the highest point in Alabama; but I ended up qualifying for the world championships. And truthfully, I’m not sure that’s a fair trade.