Valley First Gran Fondo: Really Hot!

in-the-start-chute Sunday was race day for many GWA clients and myself.  More than 2,500 riders braved 34°C heat in the South Okanagan to ride the second edition of the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan on Sunday.  Congratulations to the following riders: Dan Shepansky, David Schaffner, James Demens, Justin Cheng, Matt VanNostrand, Kate Ramsay, Laura Bertram.  For a brief summary of my personal race and few photos see below.crv-loaded-up

CRV loaded and ready to go to the Okanagan


Justin and James doing some much needed 'carb loading' the day before the race at one of 8 vineyards we visited (I somehow bought 2 cases of wine that day...)


This is me at 6am ready to head to the start of the race, it was already 25 degrees out there


Dan Shepansky doing some last second email/texting on his phone


In the start line, ready to fly...


A few riders in front of me (started too far back and had to work way too hard to get to the front group...)


Many more behind...


After the race, Laura looking better than me as usual.


My Ride:

I was a little bit nervous about this race because I wasn't feeling rested going in.  On Wednesday I ran stairs with some of our hockey players (only because they were calling me a wuss for not wanting to do them because of my upcoming race).  My legs were so sore after that and it wasn't until the morning of the race that I could properly walk down the stairs (I knew better than to do something like that before a race...)

My legs felt fine however so no excuses there.  I started a little too far back in the start line so I had to work really hard to get up with the front group.  I got there after about 10 minutes and settled into a furiously fast pace for the first 50 km.  The lead peleton relaxed a bit after that.

I stayed with the race leaders until the 120km mark where I got dropped on a steep climb.  I was too far back in the peleton and when some of the riders in front of me started falling back I just didn't have the legs to bridge the gap between us and the lead group.  The gap was only about 50m but it might as well have been 2km.

I ended up riding solo a bunch during the last 40 km, and there was a viscous head wind for a lot of it.  Needless to say I was suffering something fierce.  I was low on water (you don't stop at aid stations when you are in the lead group - stupid I think...) and the heat was getting to me.  I managed to cross the finish line only 16 minutes off the winning pace so all in all a pretty good ride.

Next time I will pay more attention to where I am in the group before the climb and carry an extra water bottle in my jersey pocket.  It was a great day and I had a blast.  My average speed was 36 km/h over the 160km course.  Top speed was a blistering 79km/h.  Average HR was 153.  Max HR was 184.  Burned in excess of 3200 calories, no wonder I've been hungry all day.