Gearing advice for Gran Fondo
I am seriously considering training for and riding the Gran Fondo National Championship in Frederick, MD next year.
The ride has 10,536 ft elevation gain over 101 miles
I do not have a background in endurance cycling, but do ride. I also ran a marathon this year (3:22:04 7:42/mile) so do have some endurance and aerobic capacity. If I do ride it, I would of course train hard and come prepared. My weight is typically about 158 and I am 5'9". I do plan to ride it as fast as is possible for me.
My road bike currently has 53/39 up front and 11-28 in the back. I know I am not strong enough to push those gears on that ride. Would switching to compact 50/34 up front be a sufficient enough change to make the ride reasonable? I tend to think yes, assuming I am in good shape for the ride, but I wanted to hear from people who have done similar rides. I just don't have the experience to know one way or the other.