–Updated with more gran fondo events–
Amateur cyclists and recreational bicyclists in the US and Canada will get more opportunities to participate in Italian-style gran fondo bike rides in 2010.
Nearly a dozen gran fondo bike rides are scheduled next year in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ontario.
Cyclists appear to be hungry for such events.
When 3-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer launched a gran fondo-style bike ride in Santa Rosa last October, 3,500 cyclists signed up.
Word must have spread among cyclists, because when online registration opened on Tuesday for the October 2010 King Ridge Gran Fondo — 10 months before the event — half the 6,000 spots were reserved the first day.
In addition to Leipheimer's event in Santa Rosa, the Tour of California is sponsoring two gran fondos along the course of two Tour stages before the race in April. Centurion Cycling is launching its first season of gran fondo with rides in California, Colorado and Wisconsin, and Gran Fondo USA is offering rides in San Diego and Philadelphia next year …