Those who mourned the loss of the annual Marquis de Sade ride will appreciate this news. George Hincapie, Tour de France legend and Greenville superstar, has announced his own Gran Fondo taking place on 10/27/2012. It will feature many of the same quad-killing climbs as good ol’ De Sade.
What makes this ride special is the celebrity of Hincapie and perhaps some of his closest friends. He and his jersey company have become the face of Greenville cycling, and hopefully will continue to contribute to the community for years to come. Hincapie should be riding along with special guests. They have not yet been named, but I expect a lot of BMC riders (maybe Tejay, Cadel?), and perhaps some other tour pros. Since this is Hincapie’s retirement year, the inaugural event should be extra special.
The longer ride is 80 miles and features the toughest climbs in the area. It starts outside of Greenville and heads straight to the Tryon/Saluda area. I have long complained about Skyuka / White Oak Mountain in the past. We’ll be reunited again, as it appears to be the first major climb. After that will be its younger brother, Howard Gap. It appears that they have eliminated the dangerous descent, as we’ll take the higher elevation route to Saluda, alongside Interstate 26. From there we’ll descend Holbert Cove, and come back through Green River Cove Road. Since Tour de Leaves is the week prior, that means I’ll be climbing Green River two weekends in a row. Ugh!
While these climbs will certainly be painful, they should be equally gorgeous. The fall leaves should be at their brightest in late October. That’s a worthwhile trade-off for the cooler temperatures, which from my experience will most likely (hopefully?) require arm warmers and little else.
There have been a lot of rumblings ever since the event was announced. One of the reservations people have is that this is a Gran Fondo, meaning it is timed. That timing chip tends to attract the hardest of the core, but with a 3,500 rider maximum and a difficult course, I expect there to be a healthy mixture of paces. Regardless how fast or slow you are, there will probably be many others right with you. I know that when I’m going up Howard Gap, the timing chip isn’t going to get me to the top any faster.
The other thing is the price. This is an expensive ride. The longest route is $170, and it scales down from there. A jersey is included in the price for the long ride, so there is that, but it’s a lot more than most. Mitchell is close, but with all the logistics to get people and their bikes up and down the mountain, it makes sense. That said, I think the price is fair for this type of event. Copper Triangle was similar. It was close to the same price, also included a jersey, and was superbly organized. I expect the same, if not better, from Hincapie. However expensive, this event could immediately become a major attraction, putting the area on the map for many.
August 16th, 2012 at 6:47 pm
Oh wow-a Hincapie event?! I would totally do this if I lived in the area. Heck, I would even consider making a special trip for it! Too bad we’ll be out of town (in DC) the weekend of the inaugural event!
August 16th, 2012 at 9:35 pm
Too bad, it’ll be fun, but hopefully he’ll do it again.
August 16th, 2012 at 8:34 pm
I’m doing the Tour de Leaves. See you there.
August 16th, 2012 at 9:36 pm
Sweet. We are staying at the Orchard Inn that weekend.
August 16th, 2012 at 8:36 pm
I plan to come in from Kentucky to do the 80 mile route. I have a feeling our hills won’t compare to the ones George trains on, but I look forward to the challenge!
August 16th, 2012 at 9:36 pm
I can’t speak for Kentucky, but I can speak for the three big hills on this course. Brutal! Looking forward to hearing your take, and maybe will see you there.
August 16th, 2012 at 8:45 pm
Sounds like a super event! But far enough from New England to shake some sense into me — their site shows the climbs: Tough!
August 16th, 2012 at 9:38 pm
They are all above double digit grades — very tough! Road trip? 🙂
August 16th, 2012 at 8:46 pm
Been loving your blog. I’m a runner at heart, marathoner really. But I’ve been doing more cycling with age to give my knees a break. Was out for a ride tonight. There are some pretty nasty hills in Bucks County, PA. And I ran a half-marathon trial run on Sunday, near the Appalachian Trail. Around mile six the course went up 128 steps to hell. I always tell people that the most effective way to train for the marathon is to make the hills your friend. You are living proof, your rides blow me away. I think I might use one of your post on my Rite2Run blog as an example of making the hills your friend. Stay well, my friend.
August 16th, 2012 at 9:44 pm
Thanks, Jim. I also came to cycling via running injury, although I was a slow, fledgling runner compared to you. Mostly 5ks. I’ve been slowly ramping back up and may give an Iron Man a go next year, so I may be begging your advice.
Bucks County is near Philly, right? I’ll probably be out there someday. I have tentative plans to ride up Baughman Spring sometime, which is near Pittsburgh, a long way from you I am guessing.
August 16th, 2012 at 9:09 pm
Sounds like an awesome ride!
August 16th, 2012 at 9:44 pm
It’ll be fun in an excruciating way. Hope you’re enjoying CO.
August 17th, 2012 at 4:06 am
Aaron, thank you for making me think about spending yet more money on bike racing. I happen to be in Canada that weekend (for a bike mechanics course, i.e. even more money spent!) and could, in theory, make it down. What’s the nearest international airport…just in case?
August 17th, 2012 at 6:06 am
That would be great if you could make it. Greenville has an airport, but it would probably be a lot cheaper flying into Charlotte, NC. Let me know if you’re seriously thinking about this. I will try to arrange to pick you up and maybe we could split a hotel room.
August 17th, 2012 at 10:15 am
I was slightly serious till I checked the cost of flights. I’ll keep looking, but I doubt I’ll be able to justify it. Thanks very much for the offer, though.
August 19th, 2012 at 8:19 pm
W aaaa y too hard for the likes of me!