Thursday, May 20, 2010

Heading west

About a month ago, I was handed an invite to partake in the the first Gran Fondo Gourmet d'Capo by the fine gents at Capo Cycling Apparel. One look at the itinerary and I was all in. Two days of chasing the Tour of California by bike with gourmet cuisine in between.

The event gave me, as a product manager, a chance to connect on a personal level with one of our business partners, really test their gear in what turned out to be some pretty trying conditions, and take in the sights, sounds and roads of the bay area.

Matt, Kent and I flew in Sunday and were greeted by Kam and Terry from Capo. Two hours later and a couple turns of the wrench, Terry's wife Sarah was giving us the 50 cent tour of Golden Gate park and the Presidio by bike. The evening was spent at Delfina Pizzeria, wine and pizza with a crust so thin you could see through it, just the way I like it. Oh, and homemade gelato of course. While we were eating we met our other guest riders, Matt and David from Competitive Cyclist and Todd from Mellow Johnny's.

8am came it was time to kit up in Capo's Modena line and pedal from the hotel back up to the Presidio. A pre-ride breakfast feast was laid out and ready for us when we arrived. Italian style cured meats, cheeses. Breads with nutella. Fruit, coffee, you name we had it, fueled and ready.

The days route would take us over the bridge into Marin county, through Sausalito and all the towns where the godfathers of mountain biking live.  We would eventually land in Santa Rosa and hopefully watch the finish of the AToC stage. Although we were all hoping for the best, the forecast was calling for temps in the low 50's and steady rain. The morning began on dry roads but the chilly air above the bay had us riding in knee and arm warmers, wind vests, rain capes, caps, gloves and yes, embrocation, don't leave home without it.

We made it to the first climb of the day outside Larkspur before the skies began to spit. By the time we were over the third climb we were in a steady rain of 51 degrees and only half way through our 65 mile journey. A quick stop with Kelly at the van and rain cape on, we headed towards Petaluma and Santa Rosa. It was at this point that the gear testing really came into play. I was perfect all day, head to toe. Not to hot, not to cold, but soaked to the bone. I was so happy to see the Santa Rosa city limit sign. 65 miles, 2800 feet of climbing, pure enjoyment.

Our ultimate destination was Jeremy Sycip's frame shop. He was gracious enough to open his doors to a soaking wet group of 10 cyclists. Kelly, had a gourmet lunch waiting for us as we dried off and warmed up. None of us were much in the mood to head back into the rain so as the stage finish approached it was  across the street to the Toad in the Hole pub for drinks and Versus coverage. Only problem was, there was no versus coverage, they couldn't get the relay planes in the air due to the weather. We did it one better though and only had to run down to the corner to catch the peloton cruise by the Flame Rouge. We timed it wrong and missed the Armstrong group and just caught the tail end of the Hincapie group. We hid under an awning and did catch the Boonen/Cavendish group, none looking too pleased with the wet 50 degree conditions. This was suppose to be California, not northern Europe.

Upon our return to the city we had just enough time to really clean up and head over to Incanto. Our evenings meal would be prepared by chef Chris Cosentino of the Food Network's Iron Chef and Chef's vs. the City fame. It was pretty sweet as the second we walked in the door he was railing the other cooks in the open air kitchen. The other cool thing is that chef Cosentino races mountain bikes, single speed mountain bikes. This was going to be good. We started off with some proseco followed by some vino and more vino and then some vino after that. Cured meats and cheeses, bread and olive spread for appetizers.

I started off with a first course Arugula salad, it was so perfectly dressed I couldn't believe it. Next up was braised goat shoulder with beans and polenta. The meat was so tender it barely stayed on the fork. Lastly, we finished it off with baked ricotta and a flourless chocalate cake and vanilla cream, all the while keeping the vino flowing. The signed menu sent us on our way. Check out Boccalone, a spin off of Incanto, good stuff.

Day two, coming up. Photo set.


RD said...

pork hmmmm....
i will check them out in 2 months

mw said...

dude. that's an amazing opprotunity. nice work.

Kam said...

Great recap of the days Mark. Couple of links to some on-the-bike video I took to augment your write up:

video of our ride over the Golden Gate on day 1:

Short video of a climb on the outskirts of Santa Rosa after the rain!