Union City Gravel Fondo - Oct 2022 - Register Now and SAVE!
United States | Southeast | Virginia >> 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Gran Fondo

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Gran Fondo

West Coast cyclist Ken Vietzke shares his knowledge and tips on riding his first full distance Gran Fondo with Neil Shirley

Most Gran Fondo's offer a range of distances, and over time, three distances have become near enough a standard on their own; the Piccolo Fondo at around 30 miles, the Medio Fondo at around 60 miles and the Gran Fondo of at least 100 miles. This is aimed at cyclists of all abilities; beginner, intermediate and advanced respectively and is a great way of helping you choose the right distance depending on your experience.

Beware, Gran Fondo's are intoxicating and once you start riding them, they can become very addictive.

Neil Shirley "As someone who has ridden dozens of Gran Fondo cycling events all over the globe, from Italy to Israel to France, I’m often asked for tips or advice by those getting ready to tackle their first event. This time around though, the advice is coming from someone with a little less experience, but who is much more in tune with the needs of a first-time Gran Fondo rider."

"At the completion of the Santa Clarita Gran Fondo benefiting the Davis Phinney Foundation, I bumped into Ken Vietzke who had just completed his first Fondo and I thought, who better to share insight of what a first-timer might need to think about before finding themselves at the start line?"

"Here are Ken’s five key things he wished he knew before lining up that day:"

1. Know your Enemy!

Know the route beforehand or ride with someone that knows it.

Knowing when to expend your effort is invaluable since first-time Gran Fondo/century riders don't have the stamina of other experienced riders. Many feel the temptation to stay with the early pack and go too hard in the first 50 miles, leaving little for the remainder when it’s so crucial.

If you haven't ridden the course before and are not riding with someone that has, the hills can seem endless and demoralize you.

Gran Fondo Santa Clarita


2. Be Mentally Prepared

Be mentally prepared to expect hard going after 50 miles.

Your body is not used to miles 50 to 100, especially if there is significant climbing yet to come. Don't worry about speed or time when the body fatigues. Getting to the next rest stop should become the goal as those breaks can do wonders for a tired and achy body.

Getting a shot of sugar, cold water or food can rejuvenate you physically and mentally, allowing you to approach the next segment in a better state.

2. Be Mentally Prepared


3. Plan your Nutrition

Understand the needs of your body's salt content beforehand.

On a long day of riding, your body's salt content can be easily depleted. Be prepared, as rest stops may not have salt replacement nourishment available.

Bring salt tablets with you and take them as needed to avoid cramping. Failure to foresee cramping can ruin your attempt at a Gran Fondo.

3. Plan your Nutrition


4. Teamwork Counts

Ride with a similar paced rider.

Long stretches of road can seem endless and having another rider to talk to is really helpful to pass the time. Taking turns drafting off of each other can pay huge dividends, saving your legs from premature fatigue.

If you are lucky enough to have more than one rider near you, encourage others to ride together, taking turns at the front.

This is especially important when riding into a strong headwind.

4. Teamwork Counts


5. Get a Good Saddle that Works for You!

Have a comfortable seat. If you are not feeling 100% comfortable in the saddle, the extra miles can murder your butt and cause rash or saddle sores.

If that happens during the ride, you will not enjoy the experience very much.

For those that suspect they will have trouble, a seat fitting at your local bike shop may do the trick. Many saddle brands offer multiple widths to fit each rider’s unique anatomy and can make all the difference for such a long day on the bike.

5. Get a Good Saddle that Works for You


About the Gran Fondo Santa Clarita

The Gran Fondo Santa Clarita is a world class cycling event that showcases the beautiful and quiet canyon roads adjacent to the City of Santa Clarita. To assure a proper challenge and the best experience for everyone, there will be three Fondo routes to choose; from “Family to Gran”. The roads of Santa Clarita are used regularly by the Amgen Tour of California so don’t expect to leave town with the KOM’s, but we promise you will leave with the experience and reminder of the fair test that cycling Santa Clarita has to offer. You will not find the steepest of field shattering climbs at the first incline, but you will find challenging grades that allow groups to stay together for a much more memorable riding experience.

The event proudly benefits the Davis Phinney Foundation which was founded to help people living with Parkinson’s disease live well today. The day promises to be a very special day helping raise support funds and awareness for one of the United States' Original cycling heroes, Davis Phinney.

About Neil Shirley

Well known west coast cyclist Neil Shirley raced on the road at National and International levels as a professional, and is an veteran World Champion on gravel too!

When he's not cycling he spends his time writing and promoting cycling at well known PR company, the Lyman Agency.

Credits: Neil Shirley, Lyman Agency, Gran Fondo Santa Clarita

Category 4 Gravel - Non-maintained Forestry roads common in California would be considered Category 4 due to deep ruts, rock gardens, and potential landslides.

Tag: lymanagency
Feb 25 2018 - NEWS: The Making of a Dirty Kanza Gravel Fondo Racer
Dec 19 2017 - NEWS: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Gran Fondo
Dec 03 2017 - NEWS: Making Gravel a Standard by Neil Shirley
May 11 2017 - NEWS: VIDEO: Big Bear Lake Time Trial Preview
Tag: training
Aug 11 2022 - NEWS: 5 Mistakes Cyclists Make During Long Races and Events
Sep 08 2019 - NEWS: How much should you Cycle every week to stay in Shape?
Jan 07 2021 - NEWS: Fasting could help make you a better cyclist
Jan 09 2021 - NEWS: Training Tips for Your First Gran Fondo
Jul 22 2020 - NEWS: Carbohydrates could be worse for health than fat
Jul 14 2020 - NEWS: 7 Climbing Tips for Beginner Gran Fondo Cyclists
Jul 03 2020 - NEWS: Study Shows that Riding a Bike can Reverse Heart Damage
Mar 06 2020 - NEWS: Pro tips for better cycling pics with a mobile phone!
Dec 31 2016 - NEWS: Top 10 Cycling Tips for the New Year
Dec 30 2019 - NEWS: Cycling Regularly Can Keep You Younger, Study Finds
Nov 11 2019 - NEWS: Study Finds that Cyclists Suffer Fewer Mental Health Problems
Nov 01 2019 - NEWS: Top 9 Reasons Why You Should Start Cycling Now!
Nov 04 2019 - NEWS: 10 Tips to help you Crush "Your Crush" on your Bike
Oct 27 2019 - NEWS: Could potatoes be an alternative to energy gels?
Oct 19 2017 - NEWS: Guide to Tackling the Mighty Gran Fondo Marmotte Alps
Tag: granfondoguide
Aug 23 2022 - NEWS: Strong Steady Growth Predicted for the Cycling Events Industry after Rapid Pandemic Recovery
Dec 31 2021 - NEWS: Over 2,000 events confirm their dates and details for 2022!
Dec 31 2021 - NEWS: Gran Fondo Guide Awards return in 2022
Jan 22 2021 - NEWS: Top 13 Most Popular Gran Fondos Globally in 2020
Jan 13 2021 - NEWS: Top 10 Most Read Cycling Articles on Gran Fondo Guide in 2020
Dec 28 2020 - NEWS: 2021 Gran Fondo Calendar with thousands of events Worldwide
Dec 29 2020 - NEWS: 2021 Gravel Ride Calendar with thousands of events Worldwide
Dec 29 2020 - NEWS: Top 10 Bold Predictions for Cycling in 2021
Dec 30 2020 - NEWS: A Tale of Two U.S. Rides that Absolutely Crushed COVID in 2020
Dec 29 2020 - NEWS: 2021 Century Ride Calendar with hundreds of events across the USA
Jul 10 2020 - NEWS: Top 11 Toughest Climbs Used in Professional Cycling
Nov 27 2019 - NEWS: 2020 Gran Fondo Calendar with Thousands of Events Globally
Dec 31 2016 - NEWS: Top 10 Cycling Tips for the New Year
Nov 29 2017 - NEWS: Top Ten Craziest Switchback Cycle Climbs in the World
Jul 14 2019 - NEWS: Switzerland – Europe's Best Kept Cycling Secret!
May 10 2019 - EVENT: Test Gran Fondo