This was to be my first time riding in a Gran Fondo. I have done other much shorter organised rides, but this was different: Timing chips, stops along the way to fill up with water food and isotonic drinks, closed roads, and support vehicles. I signed up weeks ago for the full 170km ride along with a few guys from my club (X Team). Some others signed up for the 100km start. Regardless there was going to be a lot of climbing
|The profile of the 170km, most of the last 100km are uphill!|
The night before the race I got everything ready and loaded up the car. Changes of clothes, energy gels, sandwiches. Everything I could possibly think of. I went to bed nice and early. My alarm went off at 4am and I woke up a little disorientated. I shook it off and tested my blood sugar - 255mg/dl - not a great start to the day. In the days running up I had lowered my Levermir to 24 units, and I took a lower amount of insulin for dinner the night before. I took 8 units of NovoRapid and ate a cheese sandwich along with an espresso to get me going.
|My food for the day, sandwiches, granola bars, energy bars and gels|
|My Medic Alert bracelet sill hadn't arrived so I drew myself a little tattoo with sharpie|
I set off and go to meet Alon, He comes down and we pack the car up just as its starts to rain. It rains the entire way there and he tells me that it is supposed to be cold and wet at the start. This is not looking like its going to be the day I was hoping for. We arrived at the start, still raining, in time for "Sunrise," 6am. Normally it would be a beautiful view over the Jezreel valley, this day not so much. Everyone looks unhappy, especially the people directing traffic, just standing out there in the rain. Two guys from our group are threatening to turn around and go home. I ran to the coffee shop to get us some coffees, I did a quick test - 277 mg/dl. Not ideal, but still plenty of insulin on board and when I start riding that's gonna drop fast.
|"Sunrise" over the Jezreel valley|
|Getting ready at 6am in the rain|
|Miserable looking skies and people|
|The weather at the start|
|The weather at the 100km start|
"We are not starting from here, it's too dangerous. The roads are too wet."
They were drying out but clearly the police were unwilling to allow us to go the planned route. We were all invited to the start for short ceremony to remember a fellow cyclist- Gavriel Lerner, killed in a hit and run earlier in the week. He had registered to ride the Gran Fondo but had been killed while training for it. His team mates from Eshcolit were all there to commemorate his passing. We were given black arm bands to commemorate Lerner on this ride. After the short ceremony we went back to the car and drove to the newly scheduled start. It was beginning to feel like this year's Milan San Remo. There were a number of groups that rode to the new start. Some opting to do the climb others rode through the valley and cut out about 30km. The organizers had said that they were not offering transport back to the original start so we decided to follow the instructions and just drive.
|Ceremony for Gavriel Lerner|
|Driving through the Jezreel valley|
|New start and weather was improving|
|Refreshments at the start|
|Lining up for the start|
|Lining up for the start|
|Leaders on a switch back|
|Looking back down the hill, riders and their support cars|
|Riders in groups drafting on the flatter sections|
|Pelotons are formed|
|The first rest stop|
|"I'll take mine to go"|
|Riders caught in the downpour|
Having had a few minutes rest and the terrain flattening out I was motoring along and despite eating a gel and an energy bar along the way I caught up with my team mates (Roni and David) from X Team. I was feeling good, but it was raining and even hailing hard. I had no jacket as Roni quickly reminded me. We turned a bend and the wind hit me. The rain was driving in to my face. My sun glasses were no use and were hanging off my jersey but the rain was coming down so hard that I couldn't see anything. I wanted to climb off my bike and give up, but there was no where that could give me shelter. I was praying for a petrol station or somewhere that I could stop and take refuge. Alas nothing. The road began to go up hill again and I just rode at my own pace. Drafting was impossible the spray from other bikes was worse than going it alone. My legs were sore due the cold and I was running low on energy. I was cold, wet and uncomfortable. I tried to push myself harder hoping that the increase in heart rate would warm me up. Unfortunately my legs wouldn't respond. My heart rate would not go up and I was feeling terrible. I looked down at my computer and I could see that we were closing in on 65KM. I remembered from the schedule that there was supposed to be a food stop there.
|The second stop for refreshments at Ein Zivan|
|Everyone crammed into the coffee hut|
|The coffee hut was full to bursting with cold riders|
|A few of a nearby winery and fields|
|Everyone and their bikes on the bus|
|Alon and I feeling worse for wear|
|My meter reading just HI indicating I was over 500mg/dl|
It was not the best day riding for me. It was quite horrible in fact and not much better from a blood sugar point of view. Some of it was my fault. If I had taken a rain jacket with me it would have been much better, I may have even finished the 80KM. I really do not know what happened to my sugar, feel free to leave me a comment if you have an idea. I think the organizers did a great job changing the logistics at the last minute to accommodate the unseasonably bad weather. I look forward to trying again next year.
The pictures of X Team
All the official pictures from the Gran Fondo.