Gran Fondo, the Big Bike Ride®

Cycling fever will never die! Take part in a huge bike ride that feels kind of like a victory lap for Richmonders.

Just when you thought your post Big Bike Race™ depression would sink your spirits so low that nothing could retrieve them, here comes THE GRAN FONDO!

Saturday, October 17th, you’ve got your chance to cruise around the city together with a bunch of other people who really enjoy the sport (or the recreational activity, however you would like to think about it). It won’t draw crowds from all over the world, maybe. But it’s a neat cycling tradition that you can either take part in or watch, now that our humble streets are actually legendary around the world as a challenging bike course!

A Gran Fondo, is, says Brantley Tyndall from Sports Backers, who himself is an avid competitive cyclist, “at its core just a big bike ride.”

There’s a race aspect, if you choose to accept it, but it’s not the main point of the event, which is casual and light-hearted. Well, as light-hearted as you can get if you choose the 101-mile course.

Gran Fondos, which were born in Italy in 1970, refer to super-long races with courses that are closed to traffic and give under-25 riders a chance to do well and possibly turn pro. But the term has evolved to include events like this Saturday’s, which gives amateur and pro cyclists a chance to ride together at their desired speeds, see the sights, and enjoy life from that special bicycle vantage point.

The MARTIN’S Tour of Richmond provides three separate courses that you can choose depending on how much you feel like putting the ol’ quads through–101 miles, 58 miles, or 26 miles.

You can read the astonishingly long written course descriptions or decode the course cue sheets on the event’s website. OR you can do what we recommend and just peep the maps. This one right here (PDF) gives a nice overview!

Basically, you start at Richmond International Raceway, and cruise around through Northside, down into Westhampton, out towards UR, over the bridge to Forest Hill, back across to downtown, and back. The 58-mile track will give you a nice long tour of Hanover, Mechanicsville, and Highland Springs, and the 101-mile track will take you way farther east into New Kent.

Says Brantley: “It’s designed to be a pretty plush and comfortable experience, showcase the Richmond region, and cater to a wide cycling audience.”

What if I wanna race it?

Everyone will be timed, so if you’re trying to prove something to yourself, your friends, your colleagues, your family, your quads, your imaginary pal Gerald…go for it. There will be a lead and rear vehicle, and if you fall behind, you must obey traffic rules. Even stop signs. Especially stop signs.

What if I get injured?

There are lots of aid stations along the course, and you’ll be surrounded by plenty of other people with many ways to communicate with the rest of the world.

How do I participate

Walk up registration is available today and tomorrow. The price list is available online, and there are other options you can buy, like meal or drink tickets.

If you donate $50 or more to the bike-walk advocacy program, you get $20 off your registration!

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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