Editor’s Note: Team member Mary Brown recently completed the 2019 Gran Fondo Ellensburg. After surviving 90 miles of mostly unpaved gravel roads with over 7000′ of elevation gain, Mary shared a wonderful race report, re-posted here for all to enjoy.
I just got back from the Ride Vicious Gran Fondo – Ellensburg edition. It was Type…2.75 Fun. As always, Jake and Karen put on a bitchin’ event. Snack game was strong. Where to begin… the ride started at Mt. Stuart Elementary where the wind was blowing! I think NOAA had it at 16-18 with gusts of 26 when I checked this morning. The first…27 miles were headwind city. Just crushing headwind through rolling countryside. I ran into my Gran Fondo bud Sara and we found ourselves in a paceline with some other dudes. For some reason, I was taking monster pulls because I was feeling pretty strong…and wanted to shame the patriarchy. My generosity (and hubris) would later come back to haunt me around mile 60…
After headwind city, it was CLIMB city starting at around mile 29. It was a beast. It was the white whale to my Captain Ahab. Just when I thought I was at the top, sunscreen melting in my stinging eyes in the 88 degree heat, there was another switchback. My Moby Dick, National Forest Road 4510 slipping through my sweaty grasp. According to the Stravs, that hill was 10.7 miles, 2,989’ and I was climbing it for 1:41:33. Brutal. Also, what purgatory might feel like…if I believed in purgatory.
Many years later, I arrived at the top. Stunning views of the Stuart Range. Wildflowers galore. Improbable rollers. Why were there rollers up there? After some lovely ridge line riding, it was time to go down. It was time to go down the gravel descent of doom. Some call it “washboard city”. Some call it certain death. One guy legit broke his collarbone on that descent today. A terrifying hour to say the least…
After barely surviving the descent, I rolled into the fully stocked aid station at mile 56. Watermelon. Homemade cookies. Chips. Such bounty. Surely, nothing could go wrong after such a snack attack. Then it was time for another climb. A mere 3.7 miles and 1,137’ of gain. It was hotter and the cookies started to seem like a bad idea. many years later, I arrived at the top of this other hill. Then it was time for ANOTHER GRAVEL DESCENT OF DOOM. There were also dirt bikers roaming around Mad Max style. Apparently another rider ran into one and royally messed up his bike (but not person). I survived that descent – also barely. Then it was time for 25-30 miles of sweet sweet pavement to finish. There were rollers (of course) and we finished on the last 3 miles of the Iron Horse trail. There was a taco truck back at the start (bitchin’) and many cold drinks. After a vegetarian taco quesadilla mash-up, I felt 15% restored.
I’d argue this ride was about 20% harder than the Cascadia Super G if only because the climbs were SO long and the descents SO sketchy. The headwind also added a grade.
Will I do this ride next year? Totally. You should too. It’s super pretty and fun in a very painful and also scary sort of way. But first, another beer and a nap. My Garmin Fenix advised 4 days of recovery and Season 3 of True Detective.
Editor’s Note: Mary is planning to finish off her 2019 gran fondo season with the penultimate GF Winthrop this fall. We know she will do well!