We are in the final count down to Gran Fondo Ephrata, and the number one thing that can transform gfe from a nice Sunday ride into one that will go down in infamy is the weather. So far this one is on track to possible be the warmest one yet, with a predicted forecast of partly cloudy skies and 59 (!) degrees. But don’t go packing the lightweight jersey and sunscreen just yet as we’ve seen March pull one over on us more than we care to admit. The course in in good shape and should be fairly dry, probably not dusty thought, as it’s been pretty cool over night, still may be some frost coming out of the ground in places.
80 mile notes: Course marked with red arrows on white backgrounds. Norton Canyon still hurts and is waiting for you at mile 2. You may feel good and smash it, but it will come back to haunt you. There may or may not be a large dog that resembles a polar bear at mile 13.2. His name is Tiger and he’s old (like 102 in dog years), but he may come out for old times sake, however he lacks the stamina he once had. The Baird Springs descent is potentially super fast and can get a bit loosey goosey, with the occasional baseball sized rock mixed in to keep you honest. Respect it. Said baseball sized rocks will cause numerous flats as well. At approx mile 23.9 there will be an aid station. It’s not really intended for you hardened 80 mile beasts, it’s for the 50 milers, however it is there should you absolutely need it, and will have a port-o-let. Stuhlmiller and the old highway are as chunky and nasty as ever, aka awesome. Once on hwy 28 headed for Palisades there is a section where they added a passing lane leaving a fairly narrow shoulder with a rumble strip, be safe. Right after that section is a short narrow bridge with virtually no shoulder. Be safe. Aid station is located at mile 41.8, just after getting on Palisades Rd. From there it’s about 20 miles of fairly gentle roller, it’s good to have friends here, and save a little in the tank for Three Devils.
50 mile notes: Course marked with orange arrows on green backgrounds. A few of us did this ride a couple weeks ago and were quick to note Medio does not stand for Mediocre. It’s the real deal. We will give you a neutral roll out down the canal rd to Martin Rd (mile 4.1) take it easy on the canal rd, not a ton of room. Once on Martin it’s kind of a long haul albeit mostly flat, find a good pace and get comfortable. Overen is a pretty nice climb, fast gravel, with great views on top. Use caution coming down as there are a few little ruts from when the road was muddy that aren’t obvious. Aid station is at the bottom (mile 22) where you’ll continue on Overen road and begin climbing again, this one goes on for awhile. There’s a cool old barn and large overhead power lines near the top. There are a few nasty washouts as you begin to descend, use extreme caution. Eventually you will get to Sagebrush flats road (stop and look both ways before turning left). At mile 36.3 you will hang a right onto rd 23, and join the 80 mile course. You will follow the red arrows on white backgrounds the rest of the way back.