Wow, as always the Cache Gran Fondo did not disappoint. I have been part of this event since it existence 3 years ago and I remember being so impressed with how well organized it was even the inaugural year! I graduated from Utah State University as well as interned at Logan Regional Hospital (affiliated with the Race Director that puts on the event) so naturally I love to return to my old stomping grounds. A lot has changed since I want to college there, but the same beautiful mountains have not. As always I like to drive up the morning of the event. Getting up before the sun has its perks – I love to see the sunrise! This year I was participating again as an athlete as well as sponsor with many of my Team Blonde Runner – Triathlon athletes (www.TBRtriathlon.com). What a great group!
At the start we found each other and assembled ourselves for the 50 mile event which the majority of the team members were doing. I suggested they use the race for training and run after the ride to simulate a triathlon. I did this last year and found it great for training to run on tired legs – just like it would be in a triathlon.
Soon they announced the start but we were waiting for a team member and after it thinned out a bit we all started together. The weather was absolutely perfect at high 50’s low 60’s to start! The route rides in a large loop through Cache Valley and it was great to reminisce in my mind about all the great times I had in college running for Utah State University on scholarship. I am a long distance runner gone triathlete. Triathlons rock!
Since the 100 mile riders started before us there were lots of people to catch up with and I found myself passing riders the whole time even though I was riding conservatively since I knew I would be stopping and waiting at the first support station to check on everyone and reconnect with team members. The first support station was offer just short of 20 miles. When I arrived they had plenty of great snacks and beverages to refill water bottles etc… Last year we had a team member experience some flat tires so I wanted to wait until every team member arrived so I could make sure all was well and nobody needed assistance. I was pleased to see everyone was having a great time and we enjoyed visiting a while at the first aide station as everyone trickled in. Before long we were on our way to tackle the next 30 miles.
Immediately out of this stop the 50 and 100 mile rides split and not too much farther up the road was a 500 foot climb. I was looking forward to the challenge. The hill starts gradually and gets stepper as you go so it was important to keep your cadence up and not burn out your legs too early. I was happy to say I was passing people the entire climb. As always it was a thrill to reach the top and see the spray painted sign “KOM” on the asphalt. Just for a second you truly feel like a “King of the Mountain.” At this point the riders were thinning out and I found myself riding between groups; as I would catch them I would pull them for a while until I dropped them and worked on closing the next gap. It was fun! I was thrilled to be able to hold 36 mph for a portion of it. I tried to work in aero as much as I could to simulate a triathlon. I couldn’t help looking around at the beautiful scenery that northern Utah has to offer. It felt great to have the wind on my face and be surrounded by nature. It is really easy to remember why I do this stuff when I participate in rides like this. I was in the zone and just enjoying the ride.
Before long the next two supports stops came and went. The route was well marked and it’s always fun to pick up the pace for the final stretch to the finish! Shortly after I finished I was awarded my finish medal. Since I wanted to simulate a ride-run workout (aka “brick”) I didn’t linger and quickly put my stuff away and traded out my cycling shoes for running shoes and took off on the run. By now it was getting hotter and as expected my legs were tired. I pushed them to run hard as I pounded out some miles – it felt good. I love the burn of a great workout! Soon after arriving back at the finish area I saw my first athlete finishing up her ride. She was smiling and enjoyed the event!
I then browsed through the expo with lots of vendors and enjoyed all the fun festivities. It was an honor to be part of such a well organized event! After picking up some food (provided by the event with a meal ticket – how cool is that?!) I headed back over to the finish and was greeting by many other team member who had just finished with smiles on their faces. It was fun to say hello and I was happy to see everyone had done well and felt good about their ride.
This was truly a great event and one I plan to do every year. It’s just so fun to be back in Cache Valley and to be part of such a great event. This event also helps fund breast cancer screenings – bonus. I love to be part of a great cause too! I hope to see you there next year!
~ Coach Lora Erickson
Registration for the 2015 event will begin in January. Learn more
Check out this cool video – you can see all the great views!
Other perks you should know about:
Complimentary breakfast before the event
Photo’s available for free after the event
Great expo at the finish with lots of fun booths, food and vendors.
UCA categories racing available
Free meal ticket after
Prizes & drawings