Got the reminder e-mail that registration is opening for the Gran Fondo Ephrata earlier this week. It'll be March 1oth this year. Last year it was capped at 100 folks and sold out fairly early...
I'm curious if anyone here has any experience with the Gran Fondo Leavenworth or the Gran Fondo Winthrop? I'm not seeing much information out there about them.
I did the Gran Fondo Ephrata last year, and I highly recommend trying it if you are the adventurous sort. It's about 80 miles, with 50% of it being on asphalt and the rest being on gravel. Weather conditions vary week to week in Eastern Washington in the early Spring, they said it was warm and sunny the weak before I did it, but it I experienced freezing rain at the higher elevations of it (2,100' above sea level, IIRC), and a steady wind. I'd like to do it again some day, but I haven't lost any weight or gained any fitness since attempting it last year, despite my commuting 3-7 days a week about 15 miles a day. So I'm going to hold off from trying it again until I make some progress, as I was Tail End Charlie almost the entire day and DNF'd 53 miles into it after about seven hours in saddle. I think a lot of the folks ahead of me had an easier time of it, sometimes the ruts in the gravel could be a challenge after 100 bikes passed over it ahead of me. I could have kept going for a few more hours, but I felt bad about them literally rolling up the course behind me for the last hour or two!
I found the terrain of that part of Washington interesting and beautiful and I frankly enjoyed how tough the course was. Some people did it on road bikes, I did it on my commuter which is a mountain bike with touring tires, and there was a smattering of everything in-between those two types. The folks who put on the race were really nice and had a good rest point with a variety of food and beverages at about the halfway point. Like I said, it was an experience, and I recommend it!
I'll dig up the pictures I took and post them in-thread later, when I'm not at work and can dig through my Imageshack account for them.
I'd love to hear from anyone that knows anything about the Leavenworth or Winthrop Gran Fondos...