GFE Recap

Once again the Gran Fondo Ephrata has lived up to it’s name.  This ride has a pretty rich history of foul weather and suffering, the fact that last year was as nice as it was should’ve been an indication of what was coming.  The forecast had called for rain on Sunday all week, but nobody really believed it with the unseasonably warm weather we’d been enjoying for the last few weeks.  But by Saturday they went from calling for 40% chance of rain on Sunday to 1/4″ of rain… you know it’s bad when they start giving measurements of how much rain to expect.  As the sun came up Sunday morning a steady rain was coming down.  Cars began pouring into the hs parking lot.  By the time 9:00 am rolled around it was still raining, maybe a little harder, but surprisingly we had almost everyone show up.  We rolled out of town with the EPD escort and then up Norton for the first KOM of the day.  The gravel was already a bit mushy.  Gian Dalle slayed the KOM.  Shortly after a group of 9 began to pull away.  At one point on the Baird Springs descent there were about 10 free range horses on the road.  As the lead car, I gingerly made my way through them then watched carefully to see that the lead group got through safely.  Just after I passed them though they began running down the road with the group.  It was the coolest thing to see, the horses running along at 20 mph mixin’ it up with the peloton.  This lasted for probably a minute.  Wish I would’ve got a picture.  At the aid station there was a good spread, and some of the best volunteers in the biz to get riders fueled up and on back on the road.  The Palisades was a long haul, riders battled the rain, cold, and headwind.  At the Three Devils Gian Dalle again took the KOM and looked to have a good shot at the win.  But at the finish Dalle’s gap was not enough to hold off 2014 GFE Champion Brian Ecker who made the pass and took the win for a second straight year.  Finishing times were about 30 minutes slower that last year across the board.  In the end we had 150 riders complete what will go down in history as one of the toughest GFE’s to date.

Gran Fondo Ephrata
9 am, 40 degrees and raining, but that is not about to stop nearly 200 cyclists in Ephrata.
Gran Fondo Ephrata
Cresting Norton Canyon climb in the fog.
Gran Fondo Ephrata
A large group fights through the rain and up Rd 16 climb
Gran Fondo Ephrata
Things went from bad to worse.

 

Gran Fondo Ephrata
Stuhlmiller and the old highway is tough on a good day, gritty hell on a wet day.
Gran Fondo Ephrata
Champion of the 2015 GFE Brian Ecker (right) and KOM Gian Dalle.

 

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