2 months B.GF (Before Gran Fondo)
Sometimes there are messages, emails or calls of which you know exactly where you were when you received them. News that gives your life a different twist in an instant moment.
I received the following e-mail from Bicycling last year: “Hey Kim, are you okay? We received an offer from Alpecin, and thought about you for this. The Cyclassics takes place in Hamburg on the weekend of 19 August and consists of a Prorace and a Gran Fondo. I thought this might be something for you! “
Five minutes later I answered: “Wow super cool! I would love to 🙂 Give me an hour to let me arrange something for my boys! Get back to you soon! ”
And an hour later: “Done 🙂 I would like to receive more information ☀️”
And so it happened. My first commitment to participate in a Gran Fondo. Without actually knowing exactly what a Gran Fondo was. Or rather, without reading that it was a Gran Fondo. I thought I was going for a bike ride in Hamburg. Nice and relaxed, a few feeding stations on the way. Maybe refill a bottle, grab a bar, you know what I mean. That turned out not to be the case. I became acquainted with and was immersed in, the wonderful world called Gran Fondo.
Upon arrival in Hamburg, during the communal dinner on the evening before the tour (eh, Gran Fondo) I was asked by a number of German cyclists if I had already cycled many Gran Fondos, whether Gran Fondo was my thing, etc. The word was used so by the Germans that I seriously thought it was just a German translation of a ride. Sounded quite logical to me and yet not entirely. Because Gran Fondo also had something French to it….
So what exactly is a Gran Fondo?
A Gran Fondo feels and is in fact a competition for (semi) amateurs. There are different starting groups, classified by speed or age. There is a real starting shot and feeding posts where extensive time is taken for a small bar or bottle filling moment are considerably shorter or visited less frequently. Participants go for a fast time!! A Gran Fondo also has real winners, there are serious Gran Fondo teams and through one of the 21 qualifying Gran Fondo events you can even qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. For this you have to finish in the first 25% of your age category. And that is not easy, because believe me, the level is very high. During my first Gran Fondo, in Hamburg, I was lucky enough to be able to hitch a ride on a – in my opinion – supreme Alpecin train, we overtook many other participants easily. But in Luxembourg I was less lucky, many times I had the idea I was cycling a time trial. In front of or behind, on the closed streets, no other participants in sight. Another special experience.
9 months A.GF (after Gran Fondo)
Nine months after my first Gran Fondo, I am preparing for the epic Ötztaler radmarathon. The idea was born when I spent a few training days in Mallorca last January. I was here with some Alpecin family members and while enjoying a glass of wine, the idea was born.
The Ötztaler radmarathon to Germans is what the Marmotte is to the Dutch. A very tough mountain stage, one of the toughest in the Alps, where only crazy people like to sign up. A one day stage of 238 kilometers with 5500 altitude meters. One that you don’t just cycle like that. One that requires a lot of preparation and training. Serious training. A trainer had to come on board. And so on Thursday, March 14 2019, I was introduced by WhatsApp to the man who supposedly would ruin my life for the next six months. My trainer. Exactly one you need to ride a Gran Fondo grand!