On Sunday a few of us set out for a little Gran Fondo pre-ride. I always put myself through whatever I plan to send my participants into. (Kinda like how cops have to get tased before they’re allowed to carry a taser.) We had a cold breeze blowing as we took off which lead to a brisk pace up the first section of gravel Norton Canyon. I noticed that aside from some wash board on the first steep pitch the rest of Norton was in pretty good shape. As we came down Johnson Rd and began to climb back up Baird Springs and Rd 16 I couldn’t help thinking that is almost an enjoyable twisty climb through rolling wheatland. Rd 16 turns to gravel and is a bit of a grind, then we make a left back onto Baird Springs Rd which was as good as gravel roads get. Smooth and fast rollers all the way to the top of Baird Springs where there’s a small road repair with some larger gravel and ruts that require your attention. Then smooth and fast again, all the way down Baird Springs. Just a short stretch of Highway 28 then a left turn up Stuhlmiller Rd which is a short grunt up a gravel road. Then we take a left onto the “old highway.” This is a cool section that was new last year. It starts out sandy and ugly, then turns to just ugly. Mountain bikers will have the advantage through here. Back onto Highway 28 with a nice wide shoulder and smooth surface. The only thing to be aware of is a small bridge where the shoulder gets a little tight. Next, a right turn onto Palisades road where we’ll have the aid station set up on the left at a sub-station. Palisades road is in my opinion the make it or break it section. It is a 20 mile stretch of pavement that leads to the Billingsley Ranch and the infamous Three Devils Hill. Once up the Devils your on the home stretch, less than 20 miles to go. A few more turns, one last heart-breaker climb and a fast decent back into town. I clocked 79.6 miles with 5084′ of climbing. There’s a large dog that closely resembles a polar bear at the Sieverkropp farm on Rd 16. He’s a lover not a fighter, but he is large and intimidating. There is also a dog at the Billingsley Ranch, right at the bottom of Three Devils (I know, right). This one is meaner, but I hope to convince his owner to tie him up for the day. Other than that it is just a walk in the park, enjoy!