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  1. #1
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    Hincapie Gran Fono

    Anyone doing or has done this event. I'd love to hear about it and start a discussion. I just signed up. It will be my first time riding in S.C. and the blue ridge mountains. Looks like a lot of climbing for 80 miles , 100 feet of elevation per mile is always a challenge. I was told they provide better than average support.

  2. #2
    Bill Dobie
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    I've done it every year since 2013. Great ride. Great route. Great support. The climb to watch out for is Howard's Gap. It is awful. Riders falling out left and right. Pushing their bikes up without considering where you might be. People riding paperboy style trying to survive. Make it past there and make the time cut and the rest is all gravy. Weather has been all over. Year 1 start temp was 26 degrees. Other years about 40 at start w/ high of low 70's. Perfection. Be prepared for whatever. Usually about 1200 or so participants.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dobie View Post
    I've done it every year since 2013. Great ride. Great route. Great support. The climb to watch out for is Howard's Gap. It is awful. Riders falling out left and right. Pushing their bikes up without considering where you might be. People riding paperboy style trying to survive. Make it past there and make the time cut and the rest is all gravy. Weather has been all over. Year 1 start temp was 26 degrees. Other years about 40 at start w/ high of low 70's. Perfection. Be prepared for whatever. Usually about 1200 or so participants.
    I just looked up the segment. Only a mile but steep. I think I can climb it with my current set-up. I looked up rider I know. I'm thinking I can climb it between 4.75-5.5 mph. Not the fastest but I think I can escape walking. Thanks for the heads up. Definitely a segment to respect.

  4. #4
    Bill Dobie
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    The steepness is a big part of it but the people falling out and zigzagging make it a real challenge. It is all straight up. No switchbacks. I did it every year but last with standard crank and 12 - 25. Last year I acknowledged my age and installed a compact and 12 - 27. I have always been surprised this ride doesn't generate more buzz here. Have fun!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dobie View Post
    The steepness is a big part of it but the people falling out and zigzagging make it a real challenge. It is all straight up. No switchbacks. I did it every year but last with standard crank and 12 - 25. Last year I acknowledged my age and installed a compact and 12 - 27. I have always been surprised this ride doesn't generate more buzz here. Have fun!
    I had this problem in the Marmotte. By the time of the 3rd climb(Galibier) a lot of the riders around me were having issues and started zig-zagging. I very much did not want to break my measured pace knowing getting off the bike and having to start again would consume energy I didn't want to spend. I had to yell at other riders and wound up having to spend the energy to ride past them. I managed it just fine, but it cost me as I knew I would no longer have the required energy to climb the last climb Alpe de Huez. Wound up stopping the race at the 100 mile mark and never doing the last 9 miles

    You're clearly a stronger rider than I . I'm pretty sure I can do it with my set-up a mid-compact and a 11-28 but a 39 *25 , no way. I'd die.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trek_5200 View Post
    Anyone doing or has done this event. I'd love to hear about it and start a discussion. I just signed up. It will be my first time riding in S.C. and the blue ridge mountains. Looks like a lot of climbing for 80 miles , 100 feet of elevation per mile is always a challenge. I was told they provide better than average support.
    Looks like quite a challenge. That first big climb up Skyuka, 1750' at 9.5%, would probably do me in. Good luck if you do it

  7. #7
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    I think this was the event that a local rider did a few years ago, and got pulled from the ride for going slower than the cutoff time.

  8. #8
    Bill Dobie
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    There is a cut off time but they simply re-route you to a shorter ride. They don't send you packing. I think the shorter route is about 50 miles total. Cut off is shortly after the end of the Howard's Gap climb. The Skyuka climb looks worse on paper than it really is. The switch backs give you a break now and then. They also mark the remaining elevation/distance periodically. It gives your brain something to think about besides the difficulty of the climb. I would not claim to be stronger than anyone here. Really didn't even know there were gearing options the first 2 or 3 years. Just rode what I had. What bike are you riding? What set up? My original ride was an '03 Trek 5200 like your handle. 9 speed. Pretty much bone stock original. She served me well!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trek_5200 View Post
    Anyone doing or has done this event. I'd love to hear about it and start a discussion. I just signed up. It will be my first time riding in S.C. and the blue ridge mountains. Looks like a lot of climbing for 80 miles , 100 feet of elevation per mile is always a challenge. I was told they provide better than average support.
    I've done the route a few times but the GF only once (because I'm cheap like that) but better than average support is certainly correct. You probably don't want to use carbon wheels if you're using rim brakes because there are some seriously steep sections on parts of the descents, scary even with aluminum wheels.
    I was able to ride with Eric Zabel, GH, Jimmie Johnson, and other notables between Skyuka and Howard's Gap a couple of years ago on the fast/flat section but once they hit the foot of HG I watched them ride away.
    Last edited by upstateSC-rider; 10-02-2018 at 04:48 PM.
    In reference to the Assault on Mt Mitchell...
    Quote Originally Posted by merckx56
    The easier solution is to find a biker bar in Spartanburg the night before, go in and pick a fight. The ass-whipping you'll get will be far less painful than the one Mitchell will give you the next day!

  10. #10
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    i can appreciate not doing the route as part of the race if you live there. i stopped riding the gran fondo ny four years ago because it wasn't cheap and i now ride those roads all the time for free, but the hincapie event is far cheaper and they do close the roads. anway excited to be doing it. hitting levi's gran fondo first. wonder which will be the more challenging. i'm guessing hincapie even though the route is shorter

  11. #11
    Bill Dobie
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    The roads are not closed. First few miles they are closed completely but after that you better stay on your side of the yellow line. Busy intersections are staffed with police to wave you on thru. Less busy intersections are staffed with volunteers. It is possible to be struggling up Howard's Gap only to be passed by a family heading out for pancakes. The ride gets a ton of press so most locals stay off the road. You won't have any trouble but the roads are not closed. You will see a good deal of traffic on the approach to the final climb as it runs along a great river for kayakers, hikers, tubing and fisherman. You will also see a bit of traffic in Tryon approaching Skyuka and later in Saluda after the 3rd climb. Small mountain towns so no big deal. Best sections are around lake lanier in Tryon. Top of Skyuka, Great photo op vista on left if it is clear. Howards Gap is great when you reach the top. Sux until them. After the 3rd climb is is nice and rollie until you cross the state line then you dive bomb down the watershed under the shade trees and along a river. Totally flying thru this section. You are close enough here to start burning whatever you have left in your tank. A few more rollers but finish is near. Oh, save a bit of energy for the ride back to the parking lot. About 3 miles from the finish. Plenty of free beer, pizza etc at the finish. As far as doing the route at other times I understand there is a very similar route run for an event called the Tour of Leaves with much less people. I have never ridden it though. Should be fun!

  12. #12
    Bill Dobie
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    So what did you think? Wet enough for you?? The road construction on Skyuka's descent was a bummer but with the cold (for us southerners), wet and wind I would have descended much faster it the road was clear. Made the time cut and finally say the sun as we blew thru the watershed. I'll be back next year!

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    @ Bill Dobie,

    I've ridden a fair number of Fondos and sportives by now. I thought the support was tops, The roads other than the descent after Skyuka were fantastic. I understand Skyuka is always a bit dicey but this year the road was wet, it was half milled, their was some oil and gravel so I took it real slow, so slow that i just missed the 1:00 cut-off for the full race and wound up doing 56 miles and 6,000 feet. I never got to do the 1200 feet and 20 miles of rollers after Howard's Gap. If I was a serious cyclist I think this would be one of the best Fondos to race. It didn't have the views of Levi's though.

    I wasn't all that wet. Rain was only an issue for the descent. And ironically the moment I crossed back into South Carolina the sun was out in all its glory.

    I don't quite get the logic of the cutoffs. I wound up finishing at 2:15 and saw people finishing the race over 2.5 hours after I completed. I certainly had it in me to do the extra 20 miles and there was way more than enough hours of day-light.

    I see what you mean about Howard's gap. That's really tough! People were paper-boying it and falling over.

    My favorite Fondo is still the Marmotte for the sheer beauty, climbs, support and atmosphere. I was not able to stay in Traveler's Rest and instead stayed by the Haywood mall in Greenville and I was not crazy about it.

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