New season, new goals. Maybe time to venture abroad, cross a foreign gran fondo off your bucket list.
Heading overseas for a gran fondo is no small task. Making sure you have a wonderful experience starts with planning and preparation. Here are 8 expert tips to help you have a great time.
1. TRAINING DAY: Put in proper miles and training time before jumping on a plane. Try to do rides similar to your target event. If your event is in the UK ride in rain. If you’ll be in the Alps train on long climbs (and butt puckering descents). Don’t procrastinate and ride big miles right before you leave, you don’t want to start off tired.
2. THE MAIN EVENT: Preregister! Gran fondos sell out quickly, even big ones with thousands of registration slots. Keep in mind gran fondos seed riders based on ability/finish time – speedy riders up front, recreational tourists at the back, everyone else in the middle.
3. TRAINS, PLANES AND AUTOMOBILES: Book flights early to get good departure and arrival times. Arrive at your destination airport mid-day with plenty of time to get to the venue before nightfall. It’s no fun driving a rental car on strange foreign roads at night after a day of travel. Also, pack helmet, shoes, pedals and ride clothing in a carry-on just in case luggage is lost.
4. ROOM SERVICE: Plan to stay near the ride venue to keep things stress free. It’s nice to get up, roll out the door and ride 1km to the starting line. Also, upon arrival check out the local food options and plan where to get meals – especially morning coffee.
5. THE (BIKE) TRANSPORTER: Consider renting a bike. It’s easy to reserve one online and then just bring pedals. If you take a bike use a quality bike case. They aren’t cheap but are worth it to protect brittle carbon fiber frames, wheels and bars. Keep in mind some airlines charge a fee to bring a bike.
6. LOST IN TRANSLATION: Don’t expect people to speak your language when traveling. Learn a few polite phrases like hello, goodbye, thank you, yes, no and download Google Translate to handle everything else.
7. RESCUE ME: Let’s face it, shite happens and when it happens abroad you’ll need help – specifically medical and emergency evacuation. Make sure health insurance covers your travels or purchase a special travel policy. Extra insurance is cheap compared to what it will cost you to be helicoptered off a col high in the Alps.
8. A FAMILY AFFAIR: Bring family, spouse, partner or best friend and take time to experience your destinaton – off the bike. Gran fondos take place in exciting adventurous places everyone wants to visit – like Switzerland, Provence, Tuscany, California, Brazil, Australia and Costa Brava. So, afterwards take time to meet locals, see historical sites and sample regional cuisine.