Gran Fondo Colnago San Diego


What a difference a year can make. The second edition of the Gran Fondo Colnago San Diego was the wettest ride of my entire life. Almost six hours of nonstop rain. This year we had blue skies, warm temperatures and smiling people. And Ferraris. Actually, we had Ferraris last year, but I was closer to them this time.

The businesses that comprise San Diego’s Little Italy have shown great support for the event; some even had custom kits made up just for the event. And with the nicer weather, I didn’t see anyone heading back to their hotel before the start.


I’m pleased to report that the national anthem was performed admirably, but the music that had me most excited came from these three little pipes here.


I had hoped we would have the Ferraris and Ducattis lead us for the entire ride, but that wasn’t to be. We did, however, enjoy a smoother start with enough controlled intersections to get us through the first 10 miles or so, just enough to get us most of the way out of San Diego and into the ‘burbs.

This is an expression I did not see last year. A lead group quickly formed at the front and two or three riders punched on each hill. While the pace at the front was firm, it wasn’t unreasonable. I’ve said it before: One of my favorite features of gran fondos is the way a mass-start sorts the riders. There were a number of bandit starters, but we rolled by them quickly enough that they rarely tried to jump in. I spent the entire day with capable riders who knew how to conduct themselves in a pack.

Conditions were breezy for most of the day and most climbs felt a bit more difficult than their actual pitch due to the wind. I’m currently suffering from a pinched nerve that limits my ability to go hard, so I backed off on the hills. Over the top, there were always a few strong riders to regroup with.

This is Tim—the man formerly known as Masiguy—Jackson. I’ve known Tim for years but have never encountered an opportunity to spend more than about 20 minutes with him. Interbike will do that. Though Tim started his racing career as a beanpole climber, he discovered the track some years back and underwent the most amazing metamorphosis; he became a sprinter. He also put on 60 pounds. Riding behind him was a bit like sitting in the middle of the pack. He punched such a big hole in the air that I barely had to pedal. I spent most of the day with him.

I began calling Tim “The Mop” for the way he would pick up riders as we rolled. One cyclist who hitched on to our group was riding a very beat steel bike with a cobbled set of components. He had the look of a new rider who was going to be in the sport for good. Unfortunately, his chain broke and while one of the rest stop mechanics fixed it in a flash, no sooner did we head out from the stop than he dropped off with more problems. A shame.

This is how I’ll remember our ride. A firm tempo, interrupted with a few leisurely stops. This is what living is all about.

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  1. Tim Jackson


    Like we’ve both said- it was a pleasure getting to spend the day riding with you and having a bona fide conversation for the first time ever. God willing, it won’t be the last time either.

    You’re absolutely right; good rides and great company are what living is all about.


    1. Author

      Darwin: Next year.

      Tim: A tradition, maybe?

      One observation I have about the weekend is that the gran fondo made me miss the final day of the custom bike show and even though I’d seen most everything, I’d rather not have been put in a position to have to choose. Ideally, a show like San Diego or NAHBS should have morning rides every day that let you split your time between having a leg over the bike and staring at them. As a buddy of mine says, “It’s all about balance.”

    1. Author

      Matt: We stayed south of Ramona; got as far east as Jamul. Unfortunately, though I tried to record the route with GPS, a technical glitch resulted in only 65 of 105 miles being recorded, so even I don’t know some of the roads we rode.

  2. Jimmy

    How long did it take you guys to finish the 105? I was out there doing the 60 mile route this year. Too bad they didn’t allow us to cross the Coronado Bridge this year.

    1. Author

      Jimmy: Tim and I took a firm pace on the road but were very leisurely in our frequent stops. Our day was nearly seven hours; it was the slowest gran fondo I’ve ridden, perhaps. Leaving out Coronado eliminated a lot of unnecessary stops. I was grateful not to go there.

  3. Noelle

    This was my first Gran Fondo, and I’m now curious about the LA ride. I did 60 instead of the full 100 and I liked the route a lot. I also don’t ride way in the front of the pack, but just more leisurely.

    Great pictures! Only problem with the race I found was that at the OTC they ran out of water!!

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