We arrived at the park a little after 6am and found parking right across the street from the start/finish-festival park. There were 3500 riders taking part, so we were lined up according to our own estimate of how fast we would be. The fastest riders were in the front, the slowest toward the rear. They started us down the road in, I guess, waves of 50 riders. It all went pretty smoothly...I saw no crashes.
For about the first 10 miles, we had the roads pretty much to ourselves...police were blocking all the cross traffic. Lots of people on the side of the roads cheering us on. I had a bell on my bike and would ring it like crazy for the spectators...they really dug it.
About half way to Occidental, I stopped for a break...by the time I got going again the crowd had thinned out considerably. The ride to Occidental was actually more pleasant with the smaller group.
I had originally planned to stop at the rest stop in Occidental, but I couldn't resist the descent into Monte Rio...it was fantastic as usual. So after deciding to return to Santa Rosa after a stop in Monte Rio, (my back was killing me ) I now had to climb back to Occidental, but it was OK.
After a stop at the rest stop in Occidental, I rode back on the same roads we had used heading west. The last few miles into Santa Rosa were on a bike trail, the first mile or so was gravel...it was fairly easy to ride, but I did see a couple of riders with flats along this stretch.
Back at the festival...we road through the start/finish gate so that they could record our elapsed time ( we all had a timing chip on our number plates )...pretty cool. They had valet parking for our bikes and showers for us. Lots of vendors, food, music. We hung out a while, checked out everything and then headed for home. It was a long day, we were tired, but happy.
Today I checked out the GranFondo website, they had posted the elapsed times for everyone...fastest: Scott Nydam at 4:49:32, Levi at 5:50:36 ( I think he was taking it easy and socializing with the riders ), the slowest rider at 9:44:05. I'm pretty sure that if I had attempted the full GranFondo, I would have been the slowest rider ( or dead ). Maybe someday I'll try the King Ridge loop by itself...start in Duncan Mills, do the loop, back through Jenner and return to Duncan Mills. That would still be a killer for me, but it should be a great ride. Wait till next year!