Worst Gran Fondo Experience?

Just did the Whistler Gran Fondo this weekend and the experience was so bad that it managed to get covered in the local newspaper.

Basically all they had to eat for anyone with a finish time over 5.5 hours was green, inedible bananas (they were so unripe they tasted like raw potatoes). Thankfully there was at least a little bit of food left when I rolled in at all but one of the aid stations, but it sounds like most people after me got nothing. Volunteers were offering their own lunches to riders desperate for something to eat. It sounds like some of the later riders even had trouble getting access to water/electrolytes, which is gets to be pretty dangerous for riders on a 30C day. People were bonking and/or cramping all over the place after the 100km mark.

From package pickup right to the post ride food/drinks the whole thing was so poorly organized for an event that cost $300. By contrast, I heard the Penticton fondo was great this year. Anybody else want to commiserate about terrible experiences you’ve had in a fondo/other organized ride?


I actually have no bad experiences with organised rides, but what you’re describing is just outrageous. $300 is very expensive for a fondo, I would expect a t-shirt and an abundance of outstanding food at that prize. Running out of water is just unacceptable.


I don’t know if they ran out of water completely, but I did hear lots of stories of people having to wait in line for 15+ minutes just to fill up their water bottles because the spigots were running very slowly. They did run out of drink mix though, which is even more sketchy considering there wasn’t much other food to replenish sodium/electrolytes.

The aid stations were also very poorly organized generally. Not nearly enough bike racks - there were bikes strewn all over the side of the road, some even impinging onto the course. I wish I took some pictures of it, but it was a rough day and with all the chaos I just wanted to get in and out of the aid stations as quick as I could.

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I did the first Mt Figueroa Gran Fondo in 2017, after the big climb I joined the 8 hour group, got dropped, and they finished sub 7 hours :thinking:

Highlights were meeting a coach and trading pulls with her, there was a strong headwind and her athletes were hurting after the climb, and doing the HC climb (3600 feet with bonus elevation) at 88% ftp.

Finished and queued up for a beer, and the person in front of me got the last glass :rage: :rage: :rage: Might sound lame but that is my idea of poor planning IMHO (I always pack my own food). At least they still had burritos.


Ride faster next time.



or for us 3W/kg wonders that like to climb, shortcut and don’t do the full course!


The article said 6000 riders? And at $300/person and they didn’t have anything at the aid stations?

That is a lot of money - wonder what they actually spent it on.


I suspect its a combination of lingering financial impacts from covid (riders registered from 2020 and 2021 could roll over their registration) and poor planning and preparation for the massive increase in riders this year. In Prior years they have had 4500-5000 riders and this year they had 6700.

I’m involved in a local charity run and we saw huge 50%+ increases in traffic control costs that required a route alteration to keep within our budget. I suspect the RBC Fondo is also dealing with similar cost increases like everyone else.

Still, they were vastly unprepared in both their supplies and overall logistics for the number of riders and created legitimately unsafe situations for people on a hot day with strong headwinds the whole ride.


That works too! :rofl:

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I didnt do it this year but have been hearing the stories roll in from friends and teammates.
Overall chaos for all involved. Not enough water, food, volunteers without an idea of what was going on.
And then combine that all with a group that was almost 50% larger than any other year and riders who were not comfortable riding in large packs, let along a group of that size.

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I had to miss out this year due to injury. Such a shame to hear these stories, as the Whistler fondo in 2019 was one of my highlights on a road bike!

I’d like to do it again next year - but the tickets for next year are up to $400 CAD which is really high.

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Wait… 300$ dollar for a GF??? Are you for real? Do you get a gold bar when you sign in or something?
Honestly, what could possibly be worth getting when you sign in for 300$???
Here we pay around 45euros for a GF registration. And i think that’s steep already. Do you get a full cycling kit at least when you sign in or something like that?


I paid almost that much for the Rift and all I got was a titanium spork and some washboard gravel PTSD.


Man that sounds rough, especially for that price. for 300$ I would expect really well run event with plenty of high quality food and drink options… Living in a Expensive country and most GF style races are between 60 and 100$ only very few exceed that and then often include transport.

Back at the start of July I did the Octopus Gravel and they ran out of food on a lot of the Feed stations and one didn’t have any Water left, but it was their first edition and since the Feedzones were at an out and back on top of alpine Gravel roads the logistics weren’t that easy. I will always carry enough gels / drink to get me through the day, because relying on stations can be tricky, I use them if I want to get something solid in my stomach.


I don’t think it was necessarily a “Gran Fondo” but I did a Pedaling for Kids fundraiser ride around Fort Benning, GA, in 2013. It was (and still is, unfortunately) my longest ride at 65 miles. My friend and I had been doing a lot of 20-30 mile rides and were in fair riding shape, but we didn’t know much about proper hydration and certainly not much about nutrition. We wanted to do it as our first metric century and finished in about five hours. It was also a lot hillier than we were used to. We didn’t know it, but we figured we were the red lanterns. It started raining pretty good toward the end. SAG vehicles were long gone. The last rest stop or two were packed up and gone when we came through, so we had to stop at a gas station. The finish line and everything else in the finishing area was totally gone when we arrived. It actually wasn’t even 100km when we made it back, so we kept going up the road a bit and came back, which put us around 65 miles.
Thankfully, it was nowhere near $300! That’s wild. No way.


I had a similar experience to everything above. I’m happy for the views but at the price I paid (and I got early) it was unacceptable. I have a long list of issues I’ll be contacting them about. Makes me question if I’ll ever do this one again given all the additional costs to get myself across the country.


Wow. Such a contrast. I just did the mammoth/big bear double and they had so much food it was crazy. What I especially liked about mammoth was they had a proper meal supplied AFTER the ride. Whereas Big Bear had all sorts of amazing stuff (including ribs!) during the ride and only bananas and watermelon post. I even heard the 100 mile front group had a sag motorbike supply them with water while they were riding. For Mammoth I got a Dakine duffel bag, hat, and water bottles. Big Bear we got a T-Shirt.


I did the Hardman Anaheim gravel ride last October and they ran out of water at the aid stop before the 12.5km Blackstar Canyon climb. Was easily north of 35C at the bottom of the climb so most people appeared to abandon and take surface streets back to the start. Wish I had done as it was horrific and the closest I’ve come to a DNF, felt so dehydrated, had multiple stops to find shade and threw up at least twice.
Obviously though I’ve signed up to do it again this year


70% of the mammoth 100 mile route was closed. I did the 70. Big bear was open but there was a pace car for the start of both and big bear had traffic control at any major intersections


Hey! I did the 70 too! My ride was just about as far away from a bad experience as you could get.