After a great weekend in Santa Fe, I’m back in Denver with a quick race report from the inaugural GFNY Santa Fe.
After many years of rapid expansion overseas, GFNY had its first event in the US to go alongside the New York City championship. The 75 mile Long course in Santa Fe, with 7,150 feet of climbing, included the almost 15 mile climb to the finish at Ski Santa Fe with a peak elevation of 10,350 feet.
Lining up in the corals, the first thing I noticed was that in every direction there were riders of all nationalities speaking several different languages all in bright green GFNY jerseys. Then I noticed I was standing right next to velodrome legend Nelson Vails. We talked for a moment and then it was time to race.
The weather in Santa Fe was perfect, at 6:30am the temperature was in the mid 60s and climbed throughout the race to the low 70s. As we took off from the plaza, I positioned myself in the lead group and things seemed to be going well. With heart rate and power both in a comfortable place I settled in and started working with a group of about 20. We covered the first 25 miles in just over an hour and were making great progress. Then things went sideways. Literally.
Thanks to the Santa Fe wind, a course sign had turned sideways and our group missed it. So, instead of turning to loop around the Santa Fe airport we continued 10 miles off-course down the road toward Albuquerque. A few miles past where we should have hit the first aid station along the course we realized our mistake. We turned around, descended to the turn we had missed and got back on course. We’d gone from having a stiff lead over most of the pack to being a good 45 minutes to an hour behind. The Strava Flyby shows the depressing tale (I’m the black circle):
The race now over, I settled in a bit, reeled back the pace and started taking in some of the scenery. There was no point in exhausting myself. Santa Fe is beautiful and the race covered areas I hadn’t before seen. We rode past vineyards and bison farms and enjoyed a more moderate pace over the rolling hills on the way back to the city.
The greatness of the gran fondo format is that it encompasses and welcomes everyone. While I was disappointed that my race ended due to poor turn marking, it did afford me the opportunity to chat with riders from all over the world along the route. Aside from one turn, GFNY put together a race with very slick organization and well controlled roads. I’ll definitely be back next year, this time I’ll take the time to load the course onto my computer…