Whether you’re registered and logging in the training miles or still on the fence about joining us in October, these tips from our Hincapie ambassadors will give you a little more insight into what many cyclists call “the best weekend of the year,” and what Gran Fondo Guide has ranked the #1 Gran Fondo in the United States.
Prep for the Ride
“Stick to your routine the night before the ride. Eat your ‘night before a big ride’ meal and get to bed early. In all the excitement it will be hard to fall asleep. With breakfast, eat like you normally would for a big ride, but don’t overeat! Nothing worse than GI trouble in the mountains. Moderation is the key. Do the same things that gave you the confidence to sign up for this tough ride.”
Joey Heard, Lawrenceville, GA
“Don’t forget to pack the essentials—deodorant, a comb/brush. These things are just as important as your Nuun bar and your GU.”
Jillian Martinek, Grand Rapids, MI
“Make sure your bike has the proper gearing (especially for those traveling in from flat areas of the United States). That means a semi-compact or compact crank, and bring the biggest cassette you can. Otherwise, you will be forced to grind out a heavy gear on some of the climbs and wear out your legs!”
Nick Mossing, Holland, OH
“Don’t forget the key to your bike rack lock!”
AnnieLloyd Nesbitt, Raleigh, NC
Recruit your team
“Bring your squad!! The Fondo is so fun, and it’s even more fun with your favorite cycling buddies!! And get your climbing legs ready!”
Kari LaRocco, South Tampa, FL
“Encourage and support your fellow riders, especially on those tough climbs! It makes them feel good, and it makes you feel good too.”
Daniel Halliman, Clemson, SC
Enjoy the ride
“Don’t fear the mass start. If you want to take it easy at the start, consider lining up farther back in the chute. When riders roll out, keep right and hold your line. If you’re a speedster, line up early and up front. If you want to pass, be courteous and announce your intentions. Sure, the clock is running, but Gran Fondo Hincapie is a fun ride. Take your time and enjoy it.”
Jeff Stacklin, Cleveland, OH
“A little ‘not so secret’ to locals that most people miss: when descending Skyuka (Gran route) you should take notice of the waterfall to your left. It’s easy to miss. You’ll hear the waterfall but not realize just how high the waterfall actually is. Don’t be surprised if you see others stopping too. This is just one of many locations for a great picture!”
Tim Thome, Simpsonville, SC
“If you’re doing the 80 mile (Gran), skip the first rest stop so you don’t miss the time cut. The first rest stop is always packed, whereas the one at the top of Skyuka offers no crowds and comes at about mile 35 or so.”
Sammy Clary, Greenville, SC
“It’s not a race! That’s why it’s called a ride. Talk to people, make friends, and enjoy the rest stop food and banter!”
Amy Wise, Chapin, SC
“Ride your own ride at whatever pace is comfortable for you. It’s not a race—the goal is to finish. Enjoy the company, as there are so many cool people to meet and socialize with. I’ve found talking with someone while going up a tough climb helps take my mind off my legs. Finish. Then enjoy the post-ride celebration and after party. You’ve earned it!”
Rich Cohen, New Haven, CT
And remember: It’s more than a ride
“Spend some time seeing all of the sponsors and their products and services.”
Keith Wipprecht, Mason, OH
“For first timers: Take it all in.
“The Warehouse Sale: Get there early if you are looking for something specific.
“The area: There is so much to do when you’re not on the bike. The food, brews, and hiking are top notch. Table Rock and Triple Falls are family favorite hikes.
“All of the ride amenities: The day starts early so get there early. Listen to the volunteers, ambassadors, and staff. We are there to make everyone’s experience as enjoyable as possible. If you want to be at the front, line up early. Don’t get there 10 minutes before the start and expect to slip in at the front. This leads to congestion and makes the start less safe for those around you. Since it’s your first time, stop at the Tryon rest stop. The music, snacks, and camaraderie of your fellow riders will make it worth it. Save a little in the tank to make it up the red carpet with a smile. This is the moment that will be captured by your family and friends. Finally, after you finish, grab a beer and some paella and enjoy the time with your friends and new #hincapiefamily.
“For those tackling Gran Fondo Hincapie-Greenville again: You’ve been here before, just do your thing. And maybe, help a first-timer so that like you, they will want to do this over and over again.”
Rob Snyder, Ypsilanti, MI
“It’s not just about the Fondo; it’s the city, community, and time with friends.”
David Winckler, Ontario, Canada