The inaugural Philadelphia Gran Fondo has already come and gone. I very wisely chose to do the 32 mile route instead of the 62 mile one, which I was planning to ride. I need to figure out what is going on with my left knee again. I still think it is the illiotibial band. At about mile 25 it started feeling bad, and to have had to ride another 40 miles would have been difficult. I wanted to enjoy the day, not hate it.
This was a great introduction to cycling in Pennsylvania for me. It is fitting that I rode in the first gran fondo here since we just moved to the area last week. I was one of about 1700 people who participated in the event. The weather was very nice, not too hot, and there was a comfortable breeze blowing. The course had some challenging hills, which I was prepared for from learning to cycle in central Virginia. There were some technical descents too. There were a couple of accidents due to them early on in the first hour of the ride. I haven't heard any details about them yet though. At the break for the piccolo fondo, I befriended a small group of riders who I learned were from the Cadence Foundation. Two of the kids and their coach broke off on the shorter route with me, and helped me to not feel too alone out there. It would have been more fun to do this ride with a friend or two. I didn't have anyone to hang out with afterward, but I'm still happy I did it.
I did almost decide not to even go. There were some discouraging things trying to keep me from going. Like I said, we had just moved, and the new space was still in disarray. I was very tired, and hadn't been on a bike in a week. I was worried about the illiotibial band situation with my leg. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it on time the day before getting into the city to pick up my packet. I was worried about parking. The day of the ride I had my wife drive me to the Norristown transportation center to take the trains into the city. We had to be up around 3:30am (after going to sleep after 11pm) to catch the only train that would have gotten me there on time by 5:20am. Being unfamiliar with this train system I struggled to get the tokens and transfer I needed. I was anxious about using the trains. I wasn't exactly sure how to get to the start point from the station once I got downtown.
I'm glad I did not let all of the worry and discouraging feelings keep me from it. I made it on the train okay. My transfer was smooth, and there was even another cyclist on my train car. I asked if I could follow him to the start point, and he was very friendly about it. I had energy for the ride, and my leg didn't really bother me until close to the end of the ride. It was a pleasure meeting the people from the Cadence Foundation, and I got a great new and helpful map of the Schulykill River Trail and surrounding areas from the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. It was a wonderful experience, and I would have missed it had I allowed those discouragements to keep me from it.