Of all of the events and races I was forced to miss last spring due to my broken collar bone, the Fulton Grand Fondo was the one I missed the most. Since it was a new event in 2014, I didn’t really know what I was missing, but it sounded like a fantastic time. After nearly a month or racing every weekend, I think most local riders are up for something a little less sanctioned by May 9. I’m not saying that this ride didn’t feel like a race at times, but none of us were wearing numbers or chips and it would have been very easy to just say “this is just a gorgeous ride through the south metro” if you did get dropped. Six Erik’s Bike & Board riders began the ride at Fulton Brewery at 9:00 and we picked up one more rider 10 miles down the road. To avoid some of the congestion of 1000 riders using parts of the Greenway to leave the city, the six of us rolled out a little earlier than the rest of the group. So. . . if this was a race, we were all cheaters.
We ended up stopping at both the Hopkins Depot and a Super America on Excelsior to use the restroom–a true sign that most of us are masters riders.
We did meet up with Laszlo right before the the rest of the group of 50 or so fast riders caught us at Pioneer Trail.
I rode with the group of about 50 lead riders for 15 miles or so before the road pitched up at the end of Jonathan Carver Pkwy. With over 60 miles to go in the ride, I just didn’t feel like digging that deep to rocket up this climb at 20+ mph. In retrospect I should have completely burned a match at this point. I was gapped at the top of the climb and fell off the lead pack that was now down to about 25 riders. I sat in “no-mans-land” for the next 15 miles contemplating riding the rest of this 100 mile ride solo. I did connect with a few familiar riders over that distance, but was pleasantly surprised when the lead group of riders road up from behind me after they had all decided to refill some water bottles at a gas station in Cologne. I absolutely wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. I latched onto this speeding group and was able to ride the remaining 35 miles with a bunch of familiar faces and teammates. Besides being forced to complete a 100 mile ride on two water bottles, it could not have worked out any better.
Once the group of about 25 riders hit the Greenway in St. Louis Park, Ben and I decided to pull back and ride the last 8-10 miles at a little more reasonable and safe pace. We snaked around the city and under the Twin’s Stadium before making the final push over the Lowry Bridge.
It felt fantastic to pull into the Fulton parking lot after 101.4 miles. It would have been even better had I not needed to immediately head for home as we were headed out of town. However, I was still able to enjoy a cold Lonely Blonde Fulton beer, catch up with a few friends, and pick up my free t-shirt as proof that I was there. . . Thanks to Fulton Brewery and all of the volunteers that made this ride possible. I will be definitely be back in 2016.