Rolling hills, spectacular mountain passes, world class cuisine, and live entertainment along the way. For a city that loves all things biking as much as Seattle, it’s surprising that we are just now getting a Gran Fondo.
Modeled after the immensely popular Italian mass rides, Gran Fondos are single day, long distance cycling events for everyone from beginning cyclists to professional racers. Gran Fondo (pronounced fon-doh, not fon-dew!) means “Big Ride” in Italian, and these events have been drawing huge numbers of riders in Europe for years.
The largest Italian Gran Fondo, The Maratona dles Dolomites, has been described by National Geographic as “one of the biggest, most passionate, and most chaotic bike races on Earth.”
In the past few years these rides have become somewhat of a craze in the United States. This July 23, Seattleites will finally have the chance to participate in their own back yard, when Echelon Gran Fondo comes to the Olympic Peninsula.
The ride will feature breakfast on the Kingston Ferry followed by a choice between 30, 70, and 100 mile loops, or an exclusive point to point 100 mile Super Gran Fondo. The Super Gran Fondo, limited to 500 riders, includes a timed 17-mile climb up Hurricane Ridge, which will be closed off just for the event.
Event director Hunter Ziesing says the ride will be unlike any other in the area, featuring “theater on the roads,” including “announcers, balloons, cheerleaders, helicopters, live music, marching bands, epicurean treats and a cast of characters a la Alpe d’Huez.”
The post ride festival at Kingston will include live music, gourmet food and beverages from local Washington breweries and wineries.
The Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation will be a beneficiary of the event alongside the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and LIVESTRONG. Participants will have the opportunity to fundraise or pay full registration, and Cascade Bicycle Club members get a $10 discount on registration (contact us for more info on discounted registration).
If you can’t afford to make it to Italy this year, this ride is the next best thing!