Alleghany Gran Fondo

What is a Gran Fondo anyway? …Think of it as a marathon for cyclists.

Alleghany Gran Fondo

Alleghany Gran Fondo

The Gran Fondo originates in Italy and is commonly translated as Big Ride. In Europe these are mass start rides, often honoring a former renowned bike racer like Eddy Merckx or Marco Pantani. They can attract up to 10,000 riders of all types. True European fondos are like races for the masses, sometimes with full road closures; a cool concept but often not practical here in and around urban America due to traffic density.

If you’re willing to get yourself out into the county a little bit, Gran Fondo popularity, at least in the mid-atlantic, has been on the rise. Several of these events have been conducted this year already to the wild praises of participating riders. Now that I’ve done one for myself, I can understand why.

Alleghany Gran Fondo Garmin Data

Garmin Data for the Alleghany Gran Fondo

My wife Joyce

My wife Joyce

This past weekend, I participated in the Alleghany Gran Fondo starting in Clifton Forge Virginia ending in Covington Virginia and traversing some of the best roads and climbs Allegheny County has to offer. After a double dose of an 900 ft softening climb, the hardest climb, a category 1 encountered 60 miles into the route, features a total elevation gain of 1,777 ft with an average grade of 8% over 4.2 miles. Awesome!

The race, err… I mean ride, is a mass start event complete with a moto pacer guiding us out onto the course. The course was not closed, but either a cop or a road guard was present at every intersection. There must have been 50 volunteer road guards throughout the course. Although we received very nice queue sheets when registering, No queue sheet was necessary. Just go out and ride your bike… hard. So my wife and I were lining for the start up on our Trek Madone’s when I noticed a 29er Crew kit two rows back. Gordon Wadsworth from Roanoke VA was mounted up on a Gary Fisher road bike.

Gordon Wadsworth

Gordon Wadsworth

I couldn’t help but notice that Gordon’s low gear was 39×23. Ouch, that Warm Springs Mountain climb was going to hurt! I guess it didn’t hurt my young teammate too badly… since he finished ahead of me. Nice riding bro!

Not a race, but a timed event that motivates race-level effort. They are the closest thing to riding a Tour de France stage that a bike rider can get without a UCI pro racing license. I think there are more Gran Fondo events in my future training calendar.

Maybe I’ll see you out there?


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