One Gran Fondue, hold the napalm

A glimpse of the changing colors in Dog Country.

A glimpse of the changing colors in Dog Country.

Legolas Leipheimer is leading a Gran Fondue through Sonoma County today, accompanied by some 3,500 of his closest friends, and embedded in the merry band is my old pal Chris Coursey, formerly a columnist for The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa.

Via e-mail, Chris notes that he is doing the 65-mile Medio Fondue, which features only 3,500 feet of climbing, as opposed to the full kettle of cheese — 110 miles with 6,500 feet of up, including the dread Coleman Valley Road. Going up is plenty tough — and don’t forget, what goes up must also come down.

Writes Chris: “The descent on the other side is hairpinned and potholed in some places, smooth and screaming in others. It demands a bit of skill, discretion and common sense. And I’m going to be sharing it with 3,499 other humanoids. When is the last time you saw 3,500 skilled, discreet and sensible people together in the same crowd?”

Uh, that would be never, which is only one of the many reasons I will go out for a short, solo ’cross-bike ride here as soon as the temps reach the knee-warmer stage.

Still, it could be worse — instead of cycling alone or in a crowd, we could be pounding ground along the Arghandab River in Afghanistan, a garden spot that the grunts of Bravo Company describe as “Vietnam without the napalm.” Sounds lovely. I’d rather do the backside of Coleman drunk on a unicycle with a rucksack full of nitroglycerin.

5 Responses to “One Gran Fondue, hold the napalm”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    I share the anti-big crowd idea. Folks often ask us, once they find out we live in Iowa, if we ever “race the RAGBRAI?” I’ve given up trying to explain that it’s not a race but instead tell ’em a)we’re in Italy when RAGBRAI goes off and b)I can ride the roads of Iowa pretty much anytime I want WITHOUT sharing the roads with thousands of hungover(or still drunk)yahoos with questionable bike-handling skills. I suspect it would be less than fun to ride steep, switchbacked descents with crowds like this, which make me wonder why so many folks in Italy enjoy them. I wonder if they’ll catch on here?

  2. Larry T. Says:

    RAGBRAI is pretty well established and (with some exceptions) towns actually bid to host the start/finish of a stage along the route. Our hometown of Sioux City recently put out a call for volunteers to demonstrate to the RAGBRAI organizers the citizenry wanted to host the start of the next one. I guess the participants spend enough $$ on lodging, BEER, etc. to more than cover the costs involved in putting the event on. Back-in-the-day I did plenty of century rides too but I’ve lost interest in riding around groups of folks who, as Maynard Hershon writes, are “pedalers” rather than cyclists with skills like riding in a straight line, etc. There was a small event here recently where a triathlete (with little or no training/skill in riding a paceline of course) jumped onto the back of one as they passed her and within a few miles crashed and went off in an ambulance. One Iowa county has banned RAGBRAI after some bozo managed to croak himself by riding into a crack in the road—and of course his family sued everyone involved–the county was one of the ones with resources so they ended up paying. As Maynard sez, too many people want to BUY stuff, and not enough want to LEARN stuff. I agree about the roads and cars in the US, when a motorist acts all put-out when passing me on a two-lane road I feel like if they would drive something smaller than a Ford F-250 or Chevrolet “Subdivision” there would be enough room in the lane for both of us — as there is in Italy where folks drive small cars. There they use a roofrack or small trailer if they have to haul a lotta crap somewhere or the farmers drive the 3-wheeled, 2-stroke powered APE, which while stinky, at least leaves more than enough room on the road for others while hauling an amazing amount of stuff.

  3. James Says:

    Tri-geeks with bike handling skills……..hahahahaha. That’s rich! They need a third wheel just to keep upright.

  4. Jeff in PetroMetro Says:

    Down in Texas, if I use the word bicycle in a sentence, the next question is almost always, “Oh, so are you gonna race in the MS 150 this year?” Hmmm.

    Back in the early ’90’s, I sagged the MS 150 from Houston to Austin for an Austin bike shop. Tear-drop aero helmets were all the rage. No lie, I had two “cyclists” ride up for help wearing their helmets backwards. They thought the pointy part was the visor. I can’t tell you how many bikes I saw with motor oil on the drivetrain.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    Motor oil on the drivetrain? Many years ago while working for a bike tour operator in Italy, I foolishly let go of my bottle of chain lube after a rainy day of riding. Same for the other wrench on the tour. As you probably have already guessed, we both got back empty bottles. No bike shops around and plenty more tour days to run. Out of sight of the clients I refilled our plastic lube bottles with motor oil robbed from a liter jug in the van used to top-up the engines now and then. The rest of the tour season I received many compliments on the fantastic chain lube I dispensed, including many inquiries as to the exact brand. Another year I was hanging around the TdF start village before a rainy stage, and watched (even taking a photo for the nonbelievers) the Banesto Team mechanic laying down a nice, thick bead of white lithium grease on the lower run of each bike’s chain as he rotated the cranks backwards. Moral? ANY lube is better than none. I’ll leave the issue of which way the “trout-head” helmet is supposed to point to others!

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