Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Monday, July 29, 2013

Grand Fundo - Seeking Jelly Beans!

My wakeup call at the wonderful Starlight Llama B&B came from this fellow

My favorite ride in 2012 had to be The JAM Fund Grand Fundo, in large part due to my obsession with jelly beans. So when planning out our must-do rides for this year, this one was at the top of the list. I loved the quiet dirt roads. I loved the quiet paved roads. I loved the climbs. I loved the scenery. I loved the ice cream truck and the post ride BBQ. But more than anything I loved riding from rest stop to rest stop and filling my pockets with jelly beans.

This year, I came better prepared than mere jersey pockets. See, I have this cool new handlebar bag from Dill Pickle. According to her blog, Emily has measured the capacity of her bags macaroni, but I figured it would be fun to measure my new bar bag capacity in Jelly Beans! So I planned to start the ride with a completely empty bar bag, and then fill it throughout the day with as many of those little bags of jelly beans as I could scavenge at the rest stops. Last year, they had boxes and boxes at every stop. I filled my pockets at each stop, but then ate them all in between! Maybe with the bar bag, I could get enough to power me around the course and also have some for the drive home!

Ah, greed and karma. Just before the start of the ride, I took note of how they treat pigs here! Maybe I shouldn't be so greedy and only take what I can eat! But at the end of the ride, if they have any left over, I'll ask to borrow some for my scientific measuring.

Some of the volunteers spent the day cooking while we were riding

The ride started fast. This was a fast crowd (lots of racers and CXers), and despite all the dirt roads, most folks were on skinny tired road bikes. I had remembered lots more dirt last year, but apparently my memory was faulty. It also wasn't helped by our Saturday ride - where we rode the bonus part of the Hundo loop. It had loads of dirt with a few loose sandy sections. Turns out all the other dirt was glass smooth and quite rideable on the skinny tired road bikes!

Wonderful quiet dirt roads on the Hundo bonus loop

My empty bar bag!

But there was a far greater percentage of pavement than I'd remembered, and my 42mm tires really were overkill, comfortable and confidence inspiring, but overkill. But since I'm still so nervous about falling, it probably was good for me to have the big cushy tires regardless.

John and @the_wilcox started at the front - and stayed there. I started at the back and also stayed there!

I had a little company early on. Apparently a couple of the Jelly Belly guys were sweeping - or at least hanging out near the back end of the ride. One of the riders introduced himself as Brad Huff.

Ah I recognized that name. Jeremy Powers had introduced the other pro-riders at the start, and said they'd be along to fix our flat tires!

Brad noticed my big cushy Grand Bois Hetre 650BX42 tires, and maybe recognizing that he might not have to help fix a flat on my bike, asked what the tires were.  He then seemed to take notice of my perfect for dirt roads Honey Bike. I believe he used the term "sick" - which I think meant he liked it! I, of course, noticed his Jelly Belly jersey, and accused him of teasing me with pictures of jelly beans. He assured me that I would find jelly beans along the way!

I did spot the two Jelly Belly lads a short while later making a quick repair or adjustment on their own bikes. And then later providing cheering and moral support to those folks struggling up Kings climb. This was the brutal climb I'd remembered from last year. Thanks to my super low 34X36 gear, I spun up past folks weaving and walking. But then more of my memories from last year were wrong, and the rest stop was not just over the crest of the hill, but rather another few hills past.

I reached the rest stop salivating for jelly beans, but only found fluffer-nutter sandwiches, clif bars and clif shots. What....

Was I so slow that I'd missed all the jelly beans. The lovely friendly gal handing out sandwiches said I would find them at another stop along the way, and that the ice cream truck was the next stop. With ice cream to look forward to, I pressed on.

The ice cream truck was a real treat, and came at a perfect time. I had a great frozen lemony drink and found a spot of shade. A few others were doing the same. I heard a couple of gals sitting behind me talking about getting old, and how at 25, it was all downhill from there. I thought to myself, if you are heading downhill at 25, you'll hit light-speed by the time you reach my age! Encouraged by the thought of young people suffering, I pressed on in my search for jelly beans.

But first I had to safely get my Honey through dangerous territory like Bear Meadow and Bear Swamp and Bear Hill. I couldn't resist the "Honey for Sale" sign, but no fear, MY Honey is not for sale!

I was having a glorious time. However, I didn't pull the camera out very much! So you'll have to take my word for the fact that we had some amazing views!

I reached the final rest stop and was happy to see John and his group there (with them having ridden 20 miles more already). But I was more interested in finding some jelly beans. John sadly informed me there were none there either. He'd picked up some on the Hundo loop, and had a partially eaten bag to pass on. Well as I said earlier, it must have been karma for my greed.

I did have a fabulous ride, and found plenty of fuel along the way, including the awesome barbecue at the end. I didn't win the bike, but @the_wilcox brought home a nice bag full of Oakley glasses. And despite John begging him not to feed my addiction, once we confirmed that I wasn't a buttered popcorn fan, Brad Huff found me a giant handfull of jelly beans to take home!

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