WELCOME TO THE THE 2012 LEVI'S GRAN FONDO
The city of Santa Rosa, California once again welcomed thousands of cyclists to its beautiful town. For the 2012 running, there are a reported 7500 cyclists coming to town.
THE FIRST BIG EVENT
Helping to bring some levity and celebrity appeal to the day before, the event promoters staged their own version of the Tour de Donut
race that featured Levi Leipheimer, Garmin/Sharp rider Tom Danielson, two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristen Armstrong, three-time Leadville 100 champ Rebecca Rusch and some little known actor from some little known soap opera, Patrick Dempsey from Grey's Anatomy (swoon).
Rebecca Rusch was doing her best to psych out Kirsten Armstrong before the first race. The mountain biker made quick work of the Olympic time-trial gold medal winner, slamming two donuts and grabbing an impressive holeshot.
After flipping his bike in a pre-race crash, Tommy Danielson came back to stuff his face with glazed donuts and put a mean corner pass on Patrick Dempsey for the lead.
Patrick Dempsey proved himself good natured enough to slam some glazed donuts and pedal his race bike around the parking lot course to the delight of the many Grey's Anatomy fans spectating.
Levi himself was all in for the donut race, however after his first stint he was seen gagging on about five pounds of deep fried dough.
In his second stint on course, Tommy D turned on the afterburners and lit the course up with his mouth still bulging full of donuts.
AS FOR THE BIKES
The Specialized S-Works Roubiax SL4 hit the scales at14.6 lbs while the Trek Domane 6.9 was an even 15 pounds. Both bikes were 56cm frames. The Specialized has a slightly taller headtube (18.7cm) versus the Trek (17.4cm), but the Trek uses a 20mm base spacer (versus the Specialized's 10mm spacer) which kicks the stem up a skooch higher.
The crux of both bikes are the rear ends that use two different methods of damping road shock.
The Specialized runs their well-known Zertz system (since 2004) that uses elastomer inserts in the seatstays and forks.
The Trek Domane uses a radical new design called IsoSpeed that actually decouples the seatstays from the seat tube.
Neil will be relying on a Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4. The only two changes he made to the bike was replacing the Specialized Roval carbon clinchers with Zipp's new Firecrest 202 wheels mounted with Zipp Tangente tires, and he swapped the S-Works Flexpost seatpost with a non-flex version.
One other addition to Neil's bike was the CNC'd aluminum K-Edge mount for his Garmin 500.
Zap will be aboard a Trek Domane 6.9 that comes stock with the Bontrager carbon Aeolus 3 clincher wheels. The only change to the bike was to use a shorter stem and flip it to get a lower handlebar height.
GRAN FONDO TIPS: WHAT TO BRING
Our bike set-up took place outside the hotel. When it came time to mount number plates and such we were glad that our list of things to bring to the Gran Fondo included: a tape measurer, electricians tape and wire cutters, plus (lots of) water, degreaser, chain lube, floor pump and ample energy foods that you are used to eating, and ample (just in case) clothing accessories: glasses with different lenses, arm & knee warmers, gloves, base layer and wind shell.
Within hours of our bike set-up it was off to Cafe Portofino (an absolutely awesome Italian restaurant) for our pre-challenge meal. Following a 7:00 am coffee call at Peet's, the ride will roll at 8:00 am on Saturday morning...check in tomorrow night to see whether Zap was able to beat Neil for First to Finish accolades.