From the UK to Malibu — No rest for the wicked at the Malibu Gran Fondo
The Malibu Gran Fondo celebrates all that is great about the world of cycling; beautiful landscapes, long arduous climbs rewarded with incredible views, healthy food (and plenty of it!) and the chance to spend a whole weekend with a team of likeminded riders.
Now in its third year, this event offers riders a chance to quite simply eat, sleep and ride whilst the team at Serious Cycling look after the rest. Everything starts and ends from the luxurious surroundings of the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village and there’s plenty to keep riders occupied over the course of the weekend. ASSOS sponsored the event and offered riders a bespoke Mailbu Gran Fondo jersey.
On registration day, guests are invited to participate in a warm up ride and then move into the Women’s Symposium which was held by Amber Pierce from the Network for Advancing Athletes, Janel Holcomb and Joy McCulloch who each offered the chance for athletes of all ages and abilities to network with pro level female cyclists. The talks were informative, inspiring and got everybody excited about the weekend of riding ahead.
On Saturday morning, the hotel was awash with Lycra clad cyclists all fuelling up on porridge, bananas and bran muffins, pinning race numbers onto their jerseys and psyching themselves up for the day ahead. Excitement was in the air!
The 151km timed mass start Gran Fondo started through rolling farmlands through the Santa Monica mountains. I had travelled from the UK and was told that “It never rains in Southern California” — turns out they were wrong! However, there was no way the weather was going to deter from the beauty of the route. As we hit the Pacific Coast Highway, we enjoyed the scenic California coastline with the waves crashing to our right, and simultaneously suffered (in comfort!) through some full on headwinds. At the final food stop everybody fuelled up on housemade energy bars and then set off up Latigo Canyon Road for a 10km climb with the added challenge of the KOM/QOM marked along the route. The ASSOS flags were a welcome sight marking the top of the climb and from there on in, it was the home straight back to the hotel.
Whilst our bicycles received a wash and valet by the team at WD-40, it was time for massages and a banquet of delicious food and yummy desserts in the gardens of the Four Seasons — a very welcome treat! In the evening everybody enjoyed wine and tapas whilst sharing stories of the day. It also offered the chance to see if you could recognise everybody you had been riding with all day, but without their Lycra and helmets on!
No rest for the wicked — at 5am the alarm went off again and all the eager riders met downstairs for day 2, either the Recovery Ride of the Pro Experience Time Trial. The Time Trial course was a point to point heading due north on the Pacific Coast Highway. The 20km route felt more like 40km after battling against intense headwinds the whole way. Luckily the sun was out this time and everybody was able to perfect their cyclist tan lines. On the recovery ride back, we absorbed the incredible views and revelled in what we had accomplished over the past two days.
Back at Trancas Country Market, Sunday Brunch was provided by Vintage Grocers who offered a feast of breakfast burritos and fruit and everybody sat around to enjoy the awards celebration.
As my first experience cycling in California, I couldn’t have asked for more! Huge thanks to all of the team from Serious Cycling.
For more info on the clothing worn in this story please click here.