Giro Della Costa Centrale

Sunday November 9th

This past weekend I took a road trip up to Pismo Beach to take part in the Giro Della Costa Centrale.

It was the first annual Italian style Gran Fondo in San Luis Obispo.  The entries were limited to 600 riders and the event sold out in advance.  There were a number of pro riders including Tour de France competitors-Christian VandeVelde and Peter Stetina. Others were Wayne Stetina, Ina Yoko-Tutenberg, Patty Peoples, Sara Headley-Clafferty, Kristabel Doebel-Hickok, Shawn Morelli, Adam Laurent, Casey Bateman and Allard Jensen.

We were supposed to start at 7:45 a.m., but the fog was very heavy with poor visibility and the roads were wet at 48 degrees.  After waiting 10 minutes things were not improving so off we went.

Before the start my legs were shaking uncontrollably from the cold.  Being spoiled in Southern Cal. rarely does it get that cold. We began with a mile descent which made it even colder.  My arms began to shake uncontrollably now as well.  I was actually having difficulty holding my bike upright.  I felt like Clyde my 9 pound Chihuahua mix when he starts to shake and cannot stop.

I was hoping to see a hill somewhere in the distance to start climbing and build up some body heat but there was not one in sight for the first 30 minutes.  Thankfully most people stayed calm and rode steady through the wet fog until it burned off about an hour into the ride.  We rode over some rolling hills at a steady pace until we hit the Roubaix section which was about two miles of really rough road. At that point the pace became really fast and the pack split up quickly.  I was barely hanging on to the front group and after about three miles into the first climb I was dropped.  The lead group was about 20 riders at this point. I hooked up with a few riders of similar ability at that point and we pressed on, catching others as they were dropped by the leaders.  Eventually we caught the leaders, so I thought as we were heading up Foxen Canyon Road. We were now a group of eight moving quickly in a double paceline.  The lead motorcylce told us we were 2:20 down on the two lead riders at mile 70.  We were riding well into a strong cross wind and five miles later we are told the two leaders are 3:10 ahead. I could not beleive we were losing time on two riders considering the effort we were putting in.  As we hammered harder one rider was dropped.  I could feel my legs getting heavy and chose not to pull through to avoid cramping.  I stayed at the back of our small group of seven riders and let the young guys work at pulling back the breakaway.  A short time later one more rider was popped off the back. We then hit a small climb and three guys put down the hammer splitting the group up.  Unfortunately I could not stay with the three lead riders and was left to fight the strong headwind with one other rider for the last 14 miles.  We were both fighting off cramps, but did not want to get caught by the group of Wayne and Peter Stetina behind us.  The three lead guys from our group caught the two leaders with 4 miles to the finish.  One guy who is local from San Luis Obispo and the National Collegiate Road Champion at 26  years old dropped the others with 2 miles to the finish and won alone.  We were able to hold off the group of the Stetina's and finished eight minutes behind the winner at 4 hours and 57 minutes for 103 miles.  My time was good enough to finish 1st in the 50+ age division and 7th overall.  There were only eight riders to break the 5 hour mark so it was a rewarding day.  As the pain went away we enjoyed a huge pasta lunch under the sun and compared stories of our day on the bike.