What it’s like to… DO A MULTIDAY EUROPEAN GRAN FONDO
Geoff Horton, Toronto
I took up cycling in 2009. I’d always been a runner, so I found cycling an easy transition. I’d done single-day fondos (such as rbc Whistler and Collingwood), but I had never raced. A friend turning 50 had a European stage event in Europe on his bucket list, so that’s how we chose the sevenday Haute Route Dolomites this past year. It looked like it would be beautiful cycling, a bit of a challenge and that the weather would be temperate. This was also a chance to see a couple of different countries I hadn’t ridden in before.
At first, I was a bit nervous and struggled to get into a good sleeping pattern. Also, the last climbs of a big three-to-four-climb day were a bit of a struggle. But by the third or fourth day, I’d sort of figured out pacing myself better. There were certain people I got to know and I’d say ‘hi’ to them in whatever language they spoke. I kind of like that you can find a pack that works for you. Compared with racing, cornering is not as critical and it’s a bit more spread out. I like the fact you get to see a lot more, as opposed to just focusing on the wheel in front of you.
One thing I did, and that I recommend if you can afford it, is to hire a tour operator to look after logistics – booking hotels, figuring out meals, providing a mechanic, etc. They’re on the course a couple of times so you can eat their food versus gels and stuff like that. They come with a cost, but it definitely made me feel more like a pro.
I had been injured in July, so I didn’t train as much as I had hoped beforehand: I basically had the month of August to make up for it. But I think I ended up where I would have otherwise. I was in the third quarter of finishers. I’d have liked to be a bit higher, but that’s where I thought I would be. You feel great after. We’re thinking of looking at another for 2019.
opposite left Trish Bromley sends it on Fist Full of Dollars at the Bike Ranch in Kamloops B.C. below Geoff Horton rides the Haute Route Dolomites 2017