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14-01-2021 | Frank Jansen & Victor de Ruiter

Disagree: the longest course

Dear Victor,

Everyone knows that in sportive, but especially in a gran fondo, you should always ride the longest distance. One exception: if there is an ultra fondo, then you can deviate from it. Ultra fondos are very extreme: sitting on a bike for 12 hours or more appeals to few.

Medio fondos are perfect for riders who are getting older, or riders who are recovering from an injury. Or for participants who have been unable to train as much for some other reason. If none of that applies, just ride the long distance. For well-trained riders, a medio fondo simply offers too little challenge. Moreover, you often miss one or even several famous climbs. In addition, it feels, at least to me, not good if you're not gone for the highest, the toughest. You remain with a feeling of "if only I had ...".

As far as I'm concerned we can close this chapter quickly, but I'm still curious about your opinion.

Yours, Frank

Foto: Alpen Challenge Lenzerheize

Ha Frank,

Thanks for your message. understand that you only settle for the highest, the best, the toughest. After all, you want to ride only the long distances of gran fondos for a reason (ultra fondos aside). And I can't deny: you're not the only one. That the medio fondo nevertheless has a right to exist would therefore be primarily reserved for the existence of riders who are already in their old age, who are coming back from injury, or for riders who have been able to train less for some other reason.

However, this idea is based on a false premise, it is based on the proposition that everyone must chose for the long distance, unless one of the above applies. That in itself would assume that everyone, just like you, has the same mindset, passion and physical wellbeing for cycling as you do, and that you should therefore always choose the long distance, unless there is really no other way.

Of course there are valid reasons, as also mentioned by you, to choose for the short distance, but I can assure you: there are certainly other reasons as well. Apart from a reason like my own physical disability, I will focus on only one reason, but in my opinion an important one. As you know, I myself have several times, always to my pleasure, rode the shorter routes. The kind of riders I have seen at the start there is very diverse: from a bit too fat to a bit too thin, from less trained to very well trained riders. Basically the same kind of riders as in the starting area of the long distance. In any case, enough riders who can ride seriously fast.

Why then the short distance? After all, the challenge, and the satisfaction, for many need not always be in riding long distances. There are plenty of riders to be found who prefer to set a goal of riding top-six in the medio fondo (and be able to) over continuing towards the middle of the pack in the long distance. Some riders value a solid result (in a medio) more than the "challenge" of more kilometers, or of riding that "one" mountain more. Finally, a side note, but it always strikes me that in a sport like running, for example, this (non-)discussion of short-long distance hardly gets a foothold.

In running, it's apparently (sufficiently) accepted that a runner wants to achieve a performance on a short distance such as e.g. a 5 km and should not think about running a marathon (or longer still). Why is this so stubborn in cycling culture? Anyway, next time you all register for the long distance, I'll cover my distance in the much less crowded medio fondo!

Best regards, Victor

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