2009 Gran Fondo San Diego
Updates: Jan 30, 2010 — Ciclosportivo changes dates; cancels 1 ride (see below)
Bicyclists don't have to travel to Italy to participate in the cycling phenomenon known as gran fondos any more. There are plenty scheduled in the US and Canada in 2010.
I've stumbled across six more gran fondos — in California, Colorado, Oregon and British Columbia — since I first reported on the sudden surge in the events back in December: “Gran Fondo bike rides gain popularity in the US”.
That brings to 17 the number of gran fondos available to cyclists in North America.
I've compiled a list of all 17, their dates and locations at a new page: “2010 North American Gran Fondo bike rides.” Check it out soon if you're interested in joining in, these rides are known to fill up fast.
Three Two of the new rides are slated in Colorado by sports marketing firm Cyclosportivo N.A. The gran fondos are in Boulder on April 11 Oct. 3 and Vail on June 19, and Steamboat Springs on Aug. 15 (canceled). The trio of rides in the series are progressively more difficult. Prizes are awarded to individual race winners and the male and female champions of the series.
Another series of two gran fondos in California and Oregon is being offered by Eschelon Gran Fondo, an operation of the non-profit Planet Z. The events in Napa on May 23 and Portland on Sept. 26 raise funds for LiveStrong and local hospitals.
GranFondo Canada is launching its first ride in September. GranFondo Whistler is a 74-mile jaunt along the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to the Whistler ski resort. More information about the ride.
The name gran fondo is Italian, and it refers to a ride for citizen cyclists that's popular around Europe. The events are open to recreational and amateur cyclists and has been described as a cousin to the marathon for runners.
They're different than a typical century or charity bike ride. They feature a mass start, and the ride can be timed so winners can be judged. Because of the difficulty of closing down highways in the US for such a ride, generally a mountain climb or a section of highway is set aside for individual time trials.
The gran fondo phenomenon is expected to continue. Eschelon says it will announce four more cities for gran fondos in 2011, and GranFondo Canada already is making plans for rides in Ontario and the Okanogan region in 2011.