By Karen Brooks, photos by Trina Haynes.
You’ve seen the ads in our magazine for a while now, and this past Saturday the day finally came for this gran(d) event. Trina and I made the trek north to the town of Warren, Pa., to check it out.
As it turned out, a good friend of mine from college days, Bonnie, was also going to be in Warren that weekend to help her parents close up their summer cabin on the bank of the Allegheny River. She found out about the Fondo and enthusiastically offered us a place to stay. We were able to offer her a bike to do the ride. And thus an excellent weekend adventure came together.
The start of the ride was frosty, in the mid-20s. Josh and Aaron from the local shop doing sag support, Allegheny Cyclery, wisely brought gloves, shoe covers, and even Bar Mitts to sell. (They got some of my business—I bought heavier gloves and was glad I did.) But the day was beautiful, with the amazing colors of fall on full display.
I opted for the Gran option, consisting of 110 miles. The route was quite pleasant—the roads were butter-smooth, the few climbs were relatively gentle, and the local car drivers were polite. The twisty, rolling roads going through the Allegheny National Forest were my favorite. Despite not having as many course markings as I’m used to, fortunately there were few turns, and I found my way without incident.
Bonnie was nervous about completing the 68-mile Medio option, but I reassured her that an organized Gran Fondo is a great way to attempt a long ride, since there would be support along the way and other riders to share the fun (and suffering). Their route choice had the benefit of crossing over the scenic Kinzua Dam. She and Trina finished and had a great time.
We all chowed down at the finish line barbecue, then unfortunately had to split before we could enjoy more homemade cherry pie, courtesy of Bonnie’s mom.
Did you do the Fondo and have feedback? Let us know in the comments!