In September last year, Andre and I participated in the 2nd annual GTA Gran Fondo that was held in the Halton Hills region (although according to the Gran Fondo wikipedia page, calling this event may be a misnomer).
Like all organized sporting events we had to wake up super early in the morning, to make it to our start time.
Luckily for Andre, they offered free coffee at the start line!
There were many rest stops along the route which were manned by lots of volunteers and each rest stop had lots of food and drinks.
We were lucky enough to have beautiful weather with very little humidity, which made for perfect cycling weather. The 140km route also took us by this enormous field of dahlias!! It was such a treat to come upon this gorgeous sight. And after the awesome downhills that our route had, taking in this beautiful sight was a highlight of my ride.
Unfortunately, Andre and I perhaps took to much time and relaxed a bit too long at each of the rest stops. By the time we crossed the finish line and returned to the finish line festival area, we missed out on our free lunch because the organizers were out of veggie burgers. Many of the vendors that made up the festival were also packing up too. This was quite disappointing considering the entry fee for this event is quite high and there were still lots of cyclists finishing their route after us.
The event, however was really well run and the routes were organized well with lots of great signage. The only thing is the entry fee for the event is pretty high and not being able to have the much touted lunch at the end of our ride was a pretty big disappointment. Perhaps if the finish line festival had as many goodies and treats as some of the rest stops had, it would have more of a ‘festival’ feel.
Lastly, I may sound really nit-picky by bringing this up, I find that offering a unisex jersey is such a cop out for a big event like the GTA Gran Fondo. Unisex just means men’s cut. I originally thought that perhaps there weren’t enough women riders participating to balance the cost of offering a different cut, but that wasn’t the case at all! There were lots of women of all age groups out riding that day. Their website even boasts having 800 women participating in the event last year! By not offering a women’s version of the cycling jersey, the event was keeping to the norms of the cycling industry catering towards men.
But despite that little, nit-picky detail, the event was run very smoothly and seeing all the smiles, I think most of the participants had as much fun as I did!