Cycling’s Best Kept Secret is Out
When thinking of Silicon Valley, one conjures up images of high-tech, brilliant whiz kids creating world-changing computer concepts that fill our day-to-day needs of tech and computing. Of course this is still true of Silicon Valley, but it is fast becoming a lifestyle destination for road cyclists from around the world.
Europe has had an established cycling culture now for decades, with Americans hungrily chewing on the stories of the flying Eddy Merckx and herculean feats of bareknuckle racing over the crests of some of the world’s most beautiful and brutal mountains. Entire lexicons have sprung up: you’re as likely to hear an English speaker yelling an encouraging “chapeau!” as you are a French speaker (“hat”, if you’re wondering, is cycling parlance for “nice work/great riding/kudos”). In North America however, things are a little more newborn.
With the introduction of mass participation Gran Fondo cycling events arriving on the continent little over a decade ago, the sport is still finding its history and heritage. While the uptake in ridership has been dramatic year on year, this recentness does have a strength in itself. Names of locations like Alpe D’Huez, the Col du Tourmalet and Paris-Roubaix are familiar to cyclists around the world, and many of these cathedrals of worship for the two-wheel contingent are now swarmed with wannabe Chris Froomes and Dan Martins, leaving the essential purity and pursuit of discovery hard to come by. Silicon Valley however, is the next big secret that’s about to get out.
Think of an incredible Mediterranean climate perfectly conducive for strapping on spandex virtually year round, add in incredible networks of roads and byways from the Bay to the Pacific coast, and splash in incredible heart-pounding climbs and thrilling descents to set off any cyclist’s need for speed and cycling adventure.
World-class cycling event producer Neil McKinnon, founder of the RBC GranFondo Silicon Valley, can attest that Silicon Valley is the new mecca for cycling. “I scoured North America for the most picturesque, challenging, varied and exciting cycling opportunity and chose a world class ride route here. When I came here to ride for the first time I knew we had something very special. Collectively with proximity to international airports, incredible accommodation, an amazing culinary and Californian wine culture, you are here riding unbelievable routes comparable to Girona in Spain or Tuscany, Italy with all the benefits of northern California sensibilities.” The June RBC GranFondo Silicon has two route options, 47 miles or a challenging 72 miles on the most iconic routes of Paige Mill Road and Tunitas Creek.
Bob Roll, the colorful commentator for the Tour de France, cut his cycling teeth on the hills and roadways in Silicon Valley so he can attest to the caliber of road cycling. “I would train hours upon hours each day on these roadways; the hills are incredibly exhilarating and will challenge all cyclists’ ability, and the varied terrain of Redwood forests to coastal vistas will have you wanting more.”
The Silicon Valley bike community is a strong, tight-knit and welcoming collection of local bike clubs, iconic hole-in-the-wall cafes and passionate cyclists who appreciate their little slice of heaven among the Redwoods and coastal switchbacks. Pass by The Bike Hut or zip through La Honda at any which time in the day, and you’re sure to see a collection of shiny lightweight road bikes waiting patiently for their espresso-sipping owners to get back on and start hitting the segments together.
General Manager of Palo Alto bicycles Jeff Selzer has been privy to this knowledge for years. “We have a very robust cycling culture here...its easy to go on the ‘Noon Ride’ and rub shoulders with the C Suite titans of tech and industry...its what we do here. Anyone riding here will be rewarded.”
The RBC GranFondo Silicon Valley takes this unique proposition and somehow makes it even better. Hosting such notables as Bob with the riders at intimate parties as well as corporate behemoths letting their hair down as they cycle and dine their way to the next big deal, the whole experience is one dedicated to luxurious hospitality, with food and drink at the very center. After riders return back to the finish, they experience what’s known as “Celebration Plaza” – a fully dedicated festival zone with executive-chef-created culinary extravaganza included in registration, along with a whole host of refreshing surprises from sponsors such as Moet & Chandon and more. Spectators cheer, a special beer garden is laid on the lawn as the fountains keep you cool and 1,000 riders celebrate their achievements together as the music plays and the Champagne sprays.
So, maybe consider being based right here in Menlo Park and enjoy the varied options of world-class cycling.
• Cycle shop: PaloAltoBicycles.com for sales, service and rentals
• Coffee shop: Coffeebar Menlo Park www.coffeebar.com
• Event: RBC GranFondo Silicon Valley, June 22, 2019 (47 and 72 mile options)