Watching the Tour of California, you might have wondered about fans dressed as cookies chasing riders up Gibraltar Road on stage 3, but if you follow Phil Gaimon, a regular VeloNews contributor, you probably guessed that he was behind it. Well-known for his love of cookies, Phil is putting on a cookie-themed Gran Fondo this fall, and his friends were on site for some combination of heckling, partying, and guerilla marketing for Phil’s Fondo on “Cookie Corner.” We asked Phil to tell us more about the event.
Question: Why Malibu?
Phil Gaimon: Every time I tell someone that I live in Los Angeles, they ask how the hell I can train in a town known only for traffic and movie stars. The truth is that I’ve ridden all over the world, and I can’t say L.A. is the very best, but it’s part of a 20-way tie for a climber like me. Just north of the city, you’ve got the Pacific Coast Highway with the ocean on one side and a ridge of mountains on the other. There are tons of tiny roads up and down that ridge, with Mulholland on top — this twisty, beautiful road where they film every car commercial. You can climb around that ridge for days and never hit the same road twice. SoCal doesn’t have a big Gran Fondo yet, so I thought that the Malibu Gran Cookie Dough would be a fun way to show off my home roads and help L.A. get the reputation it deserves as a cycling destination. [There is another gran fondo in Malibu that takes place in March -Ed.]
Q: What’s the route like?
PG: We have three lengths: 46 miles, 87, and 118. They’re all really hilly, finishing off with an optional dirt climb that even the locals rarely tackle. Lots of suffering up steep climbs along the oceans, and then at the top you’ll see snowy mountains in the distance and dolphins in the water behind you. The weather is always perfect, and it’s a magical area to ride.
Q: And the cookies?
PG: Cookies are my thing. I think I mentioned in a blog a long time ago that I like them, and it snowballed. Now people bake cookies and bring them to me at races, Team Cannondale and Castelli are selling a cookie-themed team fan jersey, and I’m just embracing it because it’s the best thing I have going, and my teammates are all jealous.
There’s a cool restaurant in Santa Monica called M Street Kitchen, which is known for cookies. When I found out their celebrity chef rides bikes, we got to be friends. Jeff Mahin had just returned from the White House when I met him, so basically Obama tested the cookies for me. Jeff loved the idea of the Gran Fondo (which we’ve now dubbed the “Gran Cookie Dough”). Now we get to offer a great bike ride, and a celebrity chef providing cookies at the top of the climbs and a real gourmet lunch after. Team sponsors are all jumping in, so we’ll have some great swag to go with my local pro friends and Cannondale teammates.
Q: Tell us about the charity you’re supporting.
PG: My dad died of cancer last fall, and City of Hope is a leading cancer research and treatment center. There’s a cycling club in L.A. called Fireflies that raises money for City of Hope with an annual five-day ride, and my friends there helped make the connection.
Early-bird registration is open at philsfondo.com.