Grand Fondo is Italian for "Big Ride" and what a big ride it was!
The 2013 Martin's Grand Fondo sponsored by Sportsbackers attracted more than 1,300 riders with options of 29, 59 or 102 miles of cycling through 7 jurisdictions in and around Richmond and surrounding counties.
As one of my first RVA Strong adventures, I was challenged to "take on" the 102 mile ride as part of this Grand Fondo. Unlike my other RVA Strong adventures where I have truly been a novice, I have avidly cycled through the years. I wasn't too apprehensive about this challenge but it had been many years since I had done a 100 miles or what is known as a century ride!
The event was super organized and very well supported by multiple rest stops along the way. The hundreds of volunteers were amazing and truly made each rider feel as though it was his/her ride!
The route started at the Richmond Raceway and wound through the city heading along the river by Pony Pasture. The course then headed west into Chesterfield County, through parts of Hanover and Henrico Counties before returning to the Raceway to finish with a few laps on the oval track (yes, the same one used by NASCAR drivers). The Fondo had a few challenges including climbs, technical descents, bridges, and, unfortunately for me, a flat rear tire at mile 70. Thankfully, the weather was cooperative: sunny and pleasant!
This ride had something to offer for various levels of experience. With route options of 29, 59 and 102 miles (which ended up being closer to 105 due to bridge construction) there was a distance to accommodate anyone interested in partaking in such an event. There was great scenery, great volunteers and a chance to "catch up" with some old friends while making new ones. At the finish everyone was rewarded to a delicious meal including barbeque and a cold beverage!
The 2014 Martin's Tour of Richmond Grand Fondo is on October 4th with new offers of 4 different mileage options: 29, 58, 78 and 101. Unlike last year, all distances start from the Raceway making for an even more festive and exciting start!
If you decide you are up for the challenge (which I highly recommend), you should start riding now. Even with just 4 weeks until the event most people can get into strong enough cycling shape to ride 29 miles. Your training can be done outdoors or even on a stationary bike if time and daylight become a limiting factor.
While training for the event, it is beneficial to incorporate some back strengthening exercises, such as trunk and hip extension on a therapeutic ball, as well as leg strengthening via squats, lunges and wall sits. Also include some upper body strengthening such as rows and triceps work to help prevent fatigue while holding the handle bars.
Don't forget to get your bike checked to ensure everything is in working order. I started to hear a "funny" noise when cycling a few days before the last year's event only to find out my bottom bracket was bad (the crucial piece that allows your pedals to go in circles) and needed to be replaced. There are many great cycling shops around Richmond that can help give your bike a "check up" but try not to wait until the last moment like yours truly!
Cycling is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness and promote a healthy lifestyle. It is something most of us did as children and that youthful feeling can be reborn by throwing your leg over that bike seat and pedaling. I encourage you to start cycling again and use the Grand Fondo as a goal to get started!
The Martin's Tour of Richmond is definitely RVA Strong!
I hope to see you on the road.