One of the commitments after Ironman Worldchampionships was to become a stronger cyclist. Following that path meant adding some Road Cycling Races to my calendar. The obvious choice (giving some time for recovery after Kona) was Gran Fondo New York Chile.
GFNY Chile makes it’s second edition race in the surroundings of Casablanca. A well known area of the finest wine producers. The race starts and ends at Veramonte Vineyard. It’s a beautiful course that runs through forests, challenging hills and long descents. Some can be a bit technical. The roads are in good conditions for the most part. The race is very well organized and certainly will get the attention of the world cycling community as one of the top among the GFNY circuit.
This was my first Road Cycling Race in 10 years of endurance sports career. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t try any of them before. Probably because there were not too many choices. Nowadays there’s quite a lot of them and the cycling community has grown rapidly.
Given the fact that I had raced 3 Full distance Ironman Races in a year, volume was not my concearn. I knew I had a strong base of endurance work. The main focus was working on threshold and above threshold zones to be able to keep up with strong goups of cyclists.
It was all new to me. I have never raced drafting and it certainly felt strange in the beginning to let other people do the work in front of a pack. Talking about groups of people. It is very important or probably the most crucial aspect in theses kind of races to find a strong pack of cyclist and keep up with them. Furthermore, it is critical to be located as close to the front in the starting line. If not, you’ll have to work your way through tons of cyclists and it can get really dangerous. In my case, I couldn’t get in the front and had to fight hard to move up in positions. Most of the race for me was moving from one group of cyclists to another.
The crucial moment of the day came when the infamous “Tunquén Hill” came in. This hill has sections of up to 20% grade. People literally struggle to climb it. Even some just unclip and climb it walking… In my case, it gave me the opportunity to escape from all packs.
After Tunquen Hill, I was riding mostly “solo”. Saw groups in front of me and gave me the motivation to catch them one by one. As a triathlete this felt natural and gave me the confidence to keep pushing hard. Every time I catched a group, I moved to the front and realized I still could go harder and not settle with the pace the pack was riding. By the end of the race I was leading a pack of cyclist that I caught in the last 30K of the course. When crossing the finish line they gave me their respects because of the effort I put.
I was pretty happy with my performance. I ranked in the 6th place on my Age Group and 51st overall. It was an awesome experience and I’m sure I’ll be back next year to get in the Podium.