Hincapie Gran Fondo Greenville + Gravel Weekend
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
The weekend of October 23rd, 2021 was the #GranFondHincapie which started from the Hotel Domestique. This is a synopsis of the weekend!
First off - The Gear.
I decided this year that I would only be bringing my Allied Able bike with two wheelsets. One "Go-Fast" wheelset - One "Off-Road Party-Mode" wheelset.
Bike - Allied Able
Gearing - SRAM #EtapAXS 1x with a 42 tooth chainring and Quarq power meter up front and a 10-36 cassette in the rear.
Wheelsets - "Go-Fast Boiz" - Aeolus Disc with Continental 5000TL(28 MM) and for the "Off-Road Party Mode" - Zipp 303 Firecrest Disc with Zipp G40 tires(40 MM)
The Allied Able is technically a gravel bike but this bike isn't lying with the phrase #capABLE. From going fast on the pavement, to taking on some gnarly off-road sections, this bike can handle it all! (And do it all really well) - It's a 1x only frameset and I was between a few different gear combinations. The 42 tooth chainring up front with the 10-36 cassette was good but could have used a little more assistance to grind up some the climb's from this route.
SRAM's new XPLR range with the 10-44 cassette would have been ideal, but I was not able to get it in time to try it at the event. I think this new range is going to be a golden ticket in the cassette conundrum between the Mullet/Eagle set up and the 10-33/36.
Overall - having one bike, one set of gears and two sets of wheels is a super unique and amazing setup for someone not wanting to bring multiple bikes but experience all Greenville has to offer.
Hincapie Gran Fondo - Greenville.
I did this Gran Fondo two years ago for the first time and it blew my mind the quality of the event, route, location and just everything surrounding the event. Kudos to George and the Hincapie Team that puts it on. It also helps that I got one of the coolest photos of my crossing the finish line that is featured throughout the site, app, and magazine.
The opportunity to make it back to Greenville with the Compass Research Cycling Team for another crack at the Gran Fondo came about earlier this year. With some deal making with the wife and kiddos, I got the go-ahead to register again for 2021. This time I had an idea to bring my Allied Able with the two wheelsets. Saturday would be the "Go-Fast Boiz" road mode - and Sunday would be for the "Off-Road Party-Mode.
This year I haven't put in many miles with focuses being on family, art and other things. So needless to say I was a little worried to go out and do the full route of the Gran Fondo with around 85 miles and almost 8000 feet of climbing. For a person 200lbs, and not having ridden much what could go wrong!? #fullsend
With having come up the day prior (Friday) from Florida it definitely wasn't ideal for the legs but I was happy to be up enjoying the cooler weather and the start of the changing of leaves. Our team had rented a house in Hendersonville and enjoyed a few drinks, old time stories of "our glory days" and prepped the bikes for Saturday (Huge thank you to Bryce Anderson "Bearded Bike Doc" for helping get everything set up on my Able form the travel)
The Hincapie Gran Fondo was an amazing day. The last time I did the route it had poured rain for the last 50 miles of the ride... This year - perfect weather! Our team started out making the way through the field and getting some space. At this point the excitement and adrenaline set in and I was on fire! The first categorized climb was the famed Skyuka Mountain KOM. Man this is relentless... I think its funny they tease you with every KM count down. Like thanks - I know I'm already dead and have 4 km left. The locals and also folks parked at the top cheering you on definitely help turn the pedals. Also - the amazing photo opportunity at the top!
The route has 3 total KOM/Categorized climbs and many many rolling hills. The rest stops are fully stocked with everything you could want, super friendly staff and usually local music! It was also great to meet a lot of great people along the route. I think this is a major problem in general for cyclists. My goal is to be friendly/wave/say hello/and encourage everyone around me. Everyone should take this as a challenge. Far too much, I see people pass such hard judgement based on what you look like and what you ride. We are all out there for the same reason - we love riding bikes.
One of my favorite moments was on the final categorized climb around Mile 65 was a 17 switch-back climb. Again - at every switchback, a little sign letting you know how many are left... haha. At around switchback 14 or so there was an older gentleman playing the banjo. The music rolling around the side of the mountain as I suffered like a dog. I had to stop and get a portrait. During these switchbacks the cramps in my legs (from not riding haha) started to creep up but kept turning the pedals.
As I made my way across the finish, the legs were completely trashed. I collected my medal, slapped some hands, and went directly to the beer tent for a "two beer hand-up". Everyone was in the field of the hotel by the expo enjoying the sunshine, music, awards and also amazing food. We exchanged shared stories from the ride and had a "few" celebration beers.
At the end of the event I got the amazing opportunity to meet Scott King, and Cleve Blackwell of SRAM and chat about ETAP AXS, 1x drivetrains, my art and custom painted Allied Able and share some really cool stories. I definitely want to make it up to their offices in Chicago! I had told them I was going back to the house and getting the bike ready for "off-road party-mode" for the morning. Cleve is a local legend and I definitely want to make it back to ride some local routes we had talked about.
Off-Road Party Mode
That evening I got the Able shifted over to "Off-Road Party-mode". Its natural habitat/state for the bike. We were looking up a few different routes and my teammate Pipe Monsalve was up earlier this year for the Belgian Waffle Ride. He mentioned the start was only around 20 minutes away from our house and it was settled! Nothing like a bonfire, on a beautiful fall night with friends and some bourbon after a hard day of riding to unwind.
Sunday A.M. and the legs were definitely feeling it. I was so excited to hit the local gravel before heading back to Florida. We drove over to the start of the BWR and got going. Again - another perfect morning. We only had about two hours to ride. The first couple climbs I think my body was like - "Dude... Again!?!" - but that was short lived after the first descent. With it being a few of us, I took the opportunity to stop, take photos, and really take in the route as we went on.
We got to the gravel sector and it was pretty much up hill with a little local traffic hitting the MTB trails and parks. We waved and said hello as we carried on and had some great conversations with folks. With the ride being mostly up hill at the beginning and us planning an out and back I knew the ride home was going to be #fullsend! The ZIPP G40 tires have been one of my favorite tires I have ever ridden for gravel. The 40 mm being the perfect middle ground size and the tread pattern allowing for fast rolling but to also handle the gnarly stuff. Descending on gravel is so intense! I love it as you hop over holes, rocks, flowing into each little undulation all while yahooing like a crazy person down a mountain. Just like that we were back at the car... After changing, we enjoyed a cold beer with a beautiful view on a bench by the lake. We packed up the car, and headed back to Florida reminiscing on the amazing weekend and dead legs.
Thanks for the read - it was an amazing weekend and can't wait for next year.