Get an inside look at the Levi’s GranFondo through the eyes of Papa & Barkley’s very own Trade Marketing Director, Vat Tann.
By: Vat Tann
Over the weekend, I rode my very first Levi’s GranFondo in Santa Rosa.
What exactly is a GranFondo you may ask? Originating in Italy in 1970, a GranFondo is a long distance road cycling event. The Levi’s GranFondo, one of the most brutal yet beautiful rides, leaves the challenge all up to the individual. That day, I saw families out for a fun 8.8 mile roll through the countryside all the way to elite athletes ready to eat up 100+ miles of the world’s most challenging terrain.
In the crisp, fall air of Santa Rosa, over 5,000 of us riders lined up early in the morning for the event. My anticipation of what lay ahead was palpable, as was the energy of fellow riders. The starting line was a festive moment with a strong sense of camaraderie among my team. We high-fived each other for support, took obligatory selfies and compared notes on which route each was taking. I opted for the Medio, a 65 mile middle-of-the-pack route that was a big step up from the shorter routes, but far less demanding than the aforementioned 100+ Grand routes some more intrepid team members conquered.
The medio was a beautiful ride that brought me face to face with my own personal doubts that needed crushing. It wound through picturesque vineyards and bucolic hillsides hugging the Russian River. I felt the first pangs of exertion as a steady climb through redwood forests dropped us out onto sheer-faced shore cliffs. There, I stopped to take in the scenery and snap a few photos of the majestic landscape that lay before me. Riding along the edge of the Pacific, taking in the briny air, was a thrill I’ll never forget.
After enjoying my coast along the coast, next came what the regulars call “the Wall”. This was a 1500 foot climb up a very steep road which felt like a punch in the gut. Now halfway through the ride, faced with this behemoth ahead of me, doubt started to creep in. Would I finish? Would I even make it up this mountain which seemed to go on endlessly? Should I get on that van and be whisked back to a comfortable place? This was when I realized that the Fondo was not a race. The Fondo was not about beating someone else – It was about eradicating self-doubt and your own limitations.
After what felt like an eternity, and still no time at all, I made it up that wall with the help of some energizing beats and the encouragement of fellow riders. That was what surprised me the most about the Levi’s GranFondo, which was the community that came together to lift up and ensure everyone was enjoying themselves. Beyond the army of volunteers, emergency response teams, and neighbors helping out along the route, everywhere I turned or when I stopped, a smiling face asked me if I was okay, or if I needed anything. Perfect strangers looked out for me along the journey and wished me safe riding. While sometimes I was in the middle of nowhere, I still felt that I was supported and safe which pushed me to finish even more.
After the final rest area, with 20 miles left in the ride, I summoned all the stamina in me to finish. I slapped on a 1:1 Releaf patch and dropped some CBD tincture earlier so now I could feel their effects starting to help my legs that were screaming from the vertical elevation I gained. Winding our way back through the countryside towards downtown Santa Rosa, a final left turn revealed the balloon arch of the finish line. With the promise of food and a CBD massage to look forward to, I finished the ride a different person. One who learned that self-doubt is a mental game that can be won simply by enjoying the beauty and wonder already surrounding you.
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About the author:
Vat Tann oversees Papa & Barkley’s Trade Marketing efforts including their nationwide Brand Ambassador Program. With keen insight into multi-cultural and niche markets, his work enhances Papa & Barkley’s product lines by supporting retailers through strategic programs and engaging with consumers at hundreds of in-shop patient appreciation days, trade shows, and high-profile events.
Vat develops meaningful and elevated programming that cultivates retailer relationships and unifies sales and marketing strategies. Under his direction, the Brand Ambassador Team educates consumers and retailers about Cannabis through grassroots marketing tactics. Vat hopes to demystify and destigmatize the Cannabis plant, enabling consumers to make informed choices about their Cannabis consumption and unlock the plant’s true healing potential.
Vat is an award-winning content developer, marketing executive, and media strategist with an innate curiosity for data. Previously, Vat spent 20 years in the entertainment industry having cut his teeth at top media companies like MTV, NBCUniversal, and Disney.