There is something about organized rides that I don’t like. Oh, there it is! It’s the word “organized.” As soon as the flyers start waving, the waivers start flying, the entry fees start piling up, and the rules start getting disseminated, I get limp all over.
I remember when I did my first century ride. It was sponsored by the Austin Bicycle Club. I think Terry Wittenberg Bob Lowe were still on ABC then, riding with Shimano stuff in an all-Campy era. There was no waiver, but there was a sign-in, and you rode off when you rode off.
There was no sag and no post-ride celebration. There wasn’t even a finish. You did the route and patted yourself on the back and lied about your time, which you measured with this old-timey device called a “wristwatch,” and then when you got home you soaked your feet and head in epsom salts.
Since 1982 I’ve done a baby’s handful of organized rides. The biggest one I ever did, and encouraged others to do, was the Belgian Waffle Ride, four times from 2012-2015. I’m still recovering from the beatdown of 2012, and the psychological scars will likely never heal.
A grand fondue I’ve never done. First of all I don’t like fondue. Second of all I don’t like grand. So there you have it, no grand fondue for me. Mostly though I don’t like grand fondues because here in California the biggest one is the Levi Leipheimer Grand Ex-Doper Fondue.
It blows me away that people who claim to love cycling and clean sport will pay money to this asshole. He is the embodiment, along with George Hincapie, of success through cheating, and then, after retiring in disgrace, making several hundred thousand dollars every year on cyclists who gladly pay money to ride their bikes under the banner of a complete, almost wholly unrepentant drug cheat.
But I progress.
A few weeks ago it was brought to my attention that Phil Gaimon, America’s top professional road racer, is hosting his own grand fondue. It’s called the Malibu Gran Cookie Dough. So I was interested because I love cookies, and I love cookie dough, and I love Malibu. Still not a big lover of gran, but whatever.
When considering whether or not to sign up for this event, which was going to cost me over $100 bucks, and considering that these were roads I could ride for free anyway, and considering that I hate organized riding, several things occurred to me:
- I’d be supporting a clean athlete.
- I’d be creating a mini-platform to rant against the Thorfinn-Sassquatch/Levi Dopeheimer types.
- There’s no way in hell I’d ever do this route if it weren’t on a grand fondue, even though it’s one of the most fantastic routes imaginable.
- If you conduct a pre- and post-ride weigh in, and if you do the ride properly, you are guaranteed to be calorie positive.
Read #4 again. Calorie positive. Grand fondue. Shit ton of beautiful Malibu canyon climbs. Once-in-a-lifetime permit to ride Sycamore Canyon Road. Calorie positive.
Did I mention calorie positive?
Most grand fondues and century rides are set up so that you can flog yourself for six hours and then collapse in a puddle after you’ve uploaded your Strava file, which ranks you 897th for the day, 8,970th for all time, but first among 53-year-old men who weigh 153 pounds. Then after puddling, you drag yourself up to a picnic bench, drink a bunch, eat a bunch, and watch as your body tries to shift from survival-starvation mode to calorie-alcohol-overload.
There’s a reason they have a crash cart and defibrillator paddles at the finish rather than at the start.
But the Malibu Gran Cookie Dough is different. You can flog yourself if you want, but why? Instead of marking the route with tents offering sugary gloop with extra sugar, the MGCD offers actual food stops where you can feast on real coffee and real food dreamed up by Jeff Mahin, one of America’s very finest chefs and, not coincidentally at all, a specialist in the art of making cookies.
If you stop at the right stops, drink in the spectacular scenery, meander out for a ride instead of a race, and bring a big appetite, you’ll never be able to brag that you crushed it or that you did the hardest ride in the galaxy or that you broke Strava. Instead you’ll be able to claim that you did a big fun ride and you did it calorie positive.
Did I mention calorie positive?
[Photos used permission of Phil Gaimon.]
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