Want to bike 102 miles? How about 59? Maybe just 29? Either way, you’ll get your chance to do so this Saturday.
Three things that Italians do well: dress, eat, and cycle long distances in gran fondos until their legs become spaghetti.
Richmond will have its gran fondo this Saturday as cyclists pedal 102, 59, and 29-mile distances during Sports Backers’ second annual Tour of Richmond. This largely European phenomenon is gaining traction in the US.
“We saw that they were gaining popularity around the country,” said Megan Schultz of Sports Backers about gran fondos.1 Looking to add another wheel to its cycling program,2 Sports Backers representatives visited the Tour de Tucson two years ago to see a gran fondo in action. In 2012, Sports Backers launched Tour of Richmond.
“The whole goal is to appeal to a wide range of folks,” Schultz said. The 102-mile course will entice experienced cyclists and those looking to up their pedaling game. Schultz said that, last year, the fastest riders in the 102-mile course finished in four-and-a-half hours, averaging nearly 25 miles-per-hour.
Sports Backers also included a 59 and 29-mile course “so that someone who doesn’t ride as regularly can still be involved in the event,” Schultz said. She emphasized that the Tour of Richmond is a “ride and not a race.”
Riders of the 102-mile course will begin at the Richmond Raceway Complex and head south on the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike. Riders of the 59-mile course will begin at the Goochland campus of J. Sergeant Reynolds. The 29-mile course will begin at Patrick Henry High School. All riders will lap the Richmond Raceway just before crossing the finish line (see map below).
Schultz said one of the biggest components of planning the gran fondo is coordinating activities with several regional jurisdictions. “We work with them to help put together the whole law enforcement, fire, and EMS plan.” That includes a police presence at every major intersection throughout the course, as vehicular traffic will remain open throughout the day.
Aid stations will be scattered along the course with food and water. Most stations will have bike mechanics on hand; those that don’t will have a tower pump for cyclists to use.
The Tour of Richmond will benefit Sport’s Backers’ Bike Walk RVA, an advocacy program that encourages a larger amount of multimodal transportation in the region, particularly walking and biking.
Register for Tour of Richmond on Sports Backers website.
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photos courtesy of Sports Backers