Tips For Crushing 3 Or More Gran Fondos in 1 Season

As the list of Gran Fondo National Series events and partner events continues to grow, we hope you’re planning on joining us for more than one fondo. If you’re competing to win or place in the overall series, your overall tanking is based on your results from 3 GFNS events or partner events. Regardless of your motivation to complete multiple gran fondos this season, we have some tips to help you perform at your best in all of them.

Space Out Your Gran Fondo Goals

While riding a different gran fondo every weekend is probably inadvisable for just about everyone, it is absolutely realistic for a moderately-fit amateur cyclist to ride at least three in one season. Spacing is key for success. You want enough time between fondos that you can adequately recover and complete some training to leverage the training stimulus provided by the event you just completed. At the same time, you don’t want to wait so long between fondos that your fitness wanes.

The greater your fitness, the less time you need to take between fondos, because the individual events take less out of you. For novice riders a gran fondo event likely represents a major increase in their weekly riding volume and workload. Even so, a novice rider who is training consistently will typically perform quite well when fondos are spaced at least 3-4 weeks apart. More fit and experienced riders can typically perform well with two weeks between fondos, and elite riders can do them on consecutive weekends.

Start Fresh, But Not Stale

For your best performance you want to go into a gran fondo weekend well rested so you are fresh. One of the mistakes riders make, however, is to stop riding altogether in the week leading up to the event. While you’ll be rested, this strategy is also likely to leave you stale and sluggish for your goal event. The easiest way to think about the final week leading into a fondo weekend is to maintain your normal riding/training schedule, but shorten each ride by at least half. It’s also good to include some short, high-intensity efforts, or a group ride, into this final week to keep your energy systems primed for action.

Gran Fondos are Goal Events And Training Rides

Scheduling multiple gran fondos in one season can be a great way to create training progression. The events themselves should be thought of as both goal events and big doses of training workload. To make the most out of the training stimulus from a fondo, take at least two days off the bike after the ride and then gradually get back into training. You want to give your body some time to both recover and adapt to the stress. Moderately fit cyclists are typically able to return to interval training after about 7-10 days, but keep an eye on your response to training rides during this time. If you’re still feeling sluggish and fatigued, you may want to be conservative and take some more rest. You should also monitor your emotional response to training in the weeks after a fondo. If you’re eager to train and your body is responding well, it is likely you have taken adequate rest and you’re ready to train again with purpose and intensity. If you’re not eager to train yet, waiting may do you more good in the long run.

Take the Lessons From One Fondo To The Next

Gran fondos are a different type of cycling event than either charity rides or traditional road races. Riders in GFNS events, for instance, don’t compete for an overall time from start to finish, but rather are ranked by the cumulative time added up from up to four timed segments. Success in this format may require different strategies compared to traditional road races, because you can slow down and regroup between timed segments, or stop and fuel up at an aid station, in order to maximize your performance in the timed segments. Even for experienced bike racers, this format offers new challenges and opportunities, and there’s plenty to learn from one event to the next.

We hope to see you at multiple gran fondos this season. As an added bonus, you can save money when you use this special registration page to register for 3 or more GFNS events at one time.

Jim Rutberg