Sunday, 8 November 2009
Great weekend of riding. Unbelievable weather.
Unabashedly stolen from one of the Gran Fondo web sites I checked out:
Take a scenic, mountainous course and add several thousand cyclists ranging from pros to eighty-year-old cycle tourists. Mix in roving and fixed mechanical and medical support, feed zones manned by cheerful volunteers serving up sandwiches, fruit, and drinks, and traffic halted at intersections to let you pass. Garnish with enthusiastic and supportive spectators lining the course. Top it off with coverage by major cycling magazines. Energy, excitement, atmosphere!-- this is gran fondo, a phenomenon that has taken Italy by storm. Gran fondo means long distance or great endurance. Some cyclists ride for the satisfaction and pride of just making it to the finish line. Others want to improve upon their previous times, and to challenge themselves, their friends, their teammates. And some ride to win! The phenomenon has grown so huge that there are now specialized gran fondo teams with sponsored, salaried riders, some of them ex-pros. As a result, the average amateur racer can forget about ever winning a gran fondo (Eugeny Berzin got dropped on the first climb of the 2001 GF Campagnolo!). But if you'd like to know what it's like to race a stage of the Giro and feel like a pro, here's your chance, for this is as close as it gets! You just might find yourself riding next to legends such as Francesco Moser, Gianni Bugno, Maurizio Fondriest, Gianni Motta, Marino Basso, Felice Gimondi, Silvio Martinello, Miguel Indurain, and Franco Ballerini, or current pros like Matteo Tosatto, Nicole Brandli, Marzio Bruseghin, and Diana Ziliute.
Gran fondo races are usually 160-225 km long. The majority offer an addditional fondo course (120-160 km) and sometimes even a medio fondo course (under 120 km) for those not willing or able to ride the longer distance(s). These shorter courses are just abbreviated versions of the longer ones, utilizing most of the same roads, but taking shortcuts to avoid some of the climbs. There are also events which are fondo or medio fondo only (see below). (NOTE: there are no universal regulations specifying distances, so there are so-called gran fondos that are less than 160 km, and the terms medio fondo and fondo are sometimes reversed, with the medio being the longer course. It's a matter of interpretation.)