Cycling & Running for Women

tips, products, comments & interesting stuff – by Laura Dunkley

My GranFondo Niagara experience

This is our gang of Cyclists – we trained, we ate, we rode!  Road Cycling that is.

GranFondoNF_GroupPhoto

(From left to right)  Myself, Al, Grant, Bob, Rick, Larry & Jay.  Our friend Gary had surgery on his knee so he couldn’t make it out, but he came to the start line!  Now that is a team leader.

This picture was taken at the 90+ km check-point located in front of Boggio Pharmacy in Fonthill (Larry Boggio – owner – here in the pic #2085 ).

I made it up that darn Effingham Hill (at 86km ish) AND I didn’t have to get off and walk – YES!!!  And the check-point was around the corner.  The guys went on ahead after about 70km and they waited for me here.  They are so great!  I started out after this point with the guys, but just didn’t have the energy and ended up riding on my own for the rest of the ride.  The long stretch at the Thorold tunnel and the last hill in St. Davids was a challenge, but I finished.  5hrs, but who is counting!  An event that tested my mettle (definition – A person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way) and i achieved my goal to finish.  The scenery was spectacular, the event well-organized and the company – words cannot describe.

I live here in beautiful Niagara, where people come from all over the world just to see the incredible scenery.  Well, there is nothing so beautiful than seeing the wonders of nature from the back of a bicycle.  

Here is a little video taken by the St. Catharine’s Standard Newspaper that highlights the ride.  I took a snap shot of the spot where they captured my climb (on the left).

GF_CyclingVideo

So let’s go back to the beginning.. where it all started on the Friday night before the inaugural GranFondo Niagara Falls.

I arrived at the hotel in Niagara Falls early Friday evening, registered, put my bike safely in and headed down to the Sheraton Hotel where registration was well underway.  The afternoon was drizzly and I hoped desperately it would clear up for tomorrow.  My favourite raincoat on and a Starbucks Latte in hand (fortunately there was one right beside the hotel!) I took the 1 mile walk to the hotel.  Passing the start corral, the nervous butterflies started in my stomach.  This is going to be the furthest I have ever ridden, and that includes when I was younger (and had a little more energy to spare).  Yes, I am a mountain biker and riding on the road is just not the same.  BUT i put my time in riding with the gang this summer, but we never did make it over the 100km distance.  This is going to be 125km and more hills.

Registration done, met up with the guys for dinner.  We headed back to the hotel and started to put on the ensemble of number tags, stickers and timing chips.  Honestly.. like I really care how fast I do this?  I just want to finish.  Okay, who is kidding who, I always want to know how fast I’ve gone.  That competitive side of me will never go away.

Off to bed early and a good night sleep – WRONG!  We were in the Quality Inn which is a two-story motel.  Yes, it is conveniently close to the start, and reasonably priced, BUT it was incredibly noisy with lights and people outside all night long.  Next year, maybe we can talk one of the hotels into having it as a ‘Cyclists Only’ for that night.

5:30 wake-up and then deciding what to wear.  I really wanted to wear my very cool GranFondo Bloggers Jersey and Short Kit and thought of every way to layer.

GFNF_CyclingKit 2

The morning was cool, but wasn’t sure if it would warm up.  Ended up riding with shorts, thin knicker tights over top, arm warmers, sleeveless base layer, my GF jersey and a thin Pearl iZUMi shell jacket.  No booties, long finger gloves and no ear warmers.  The sun did come out and I was relatively warm on most of my body except for my upper body which surprised me.  I should have dressed warmer for sure.

Starting in the corral with a crazy amount of people all crammed in just made the excitement increase even more and adrenalin was in overload.  I wasn’t feeling well and unfortunately the feeling continued throughout the ride.  Some things you just can’t plan for.

Niagara Falls in the morning was breathtaking.  Here is a pic taken that morning by our dear friend Dave Demo (Financial Consultant & Photographer extraordinaire).

NiagaraFallsSunrise_DDemoe

And then the Alta Racers started us off

GFStarts_DDemoe

The Police were great keeping everyone safe on the roads.  What a treat to ride on these roads without having to worry about cars!

GF_Police_DDemoe

The Route we took.  Notice the elevation.  Yes, it is worse than it looks!  But makes you stronger..right?  Next year more hill training.

GranFondo NF Route Map Aug2013

Until next year…

GF_HelmetLanyard

It really was a pleasure being one of GranFondo Niagara Falls official bloggers.  It gave me the motivation to keep training and an opportunity to experience a wonderful cycling experience.   I didn’t do the ride as fast as I hoped, and it took longer to recover, but I learned so much on how to do things differently next time and what to do exactly the same.

More information about GranFondo Canada can be found on their website at www.GranFondoCanada.com

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This entry was posted on September 28, 2013 by in Cycling Events and tagged , , , .

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