Echelon’s Hood River Gran Fondo adds off-road challenge

A new off-road ride builds upon the popularity of the Gran Fondo

Echelon Gran Fondo are set to incorporate mountain and cyclo-cross routes into their Hood River Gran Fondo on 24 September outside of Portland, Oregon. The new event is called the Echelon CrossMountain.

CrossMountain event participants will be treated to the choice of either 48- or 100km routes that combine ample trail riding, challenging single-track descents and all the amenities of the Gran Fondo. “Cyclo-cross is the fastest growing discipline in American cycling,” Echelon Gran Fondo founder, Hunter Ziesing told Bikeradar.  “In particular, the Pacific Northwest cyclo-cross has become a hot bed as many roadies are crossing over in the fall season.”

Ziesing is expecting to fill a field to the set limit of 500 riders for the Echelon CrossMountain. The event is held the weekend prior to the kick off of the Cross Crusade, a popular 10-round cyclo-cross series that attracts upwards of 1000 off-road cyclists each weekend during September and December. “We see CrossMountain as a warm up cross country timed ride for these riders, many of which do longer training rides on their cross bikes while preparing for the season,” Ziesing. “Additionally, we surveyed ’cross and mountain bike riders who liked the idea of a cross country randonnee-style ride, on road and off road, that was longer than your typical rodeo style cross ride and fully supported like a Gran Fondo.”

The Gran Fondo and CrossMountain participants will start together for the first 12km on a paved route along the Columbia Historic Highway. The road riders will continue on one of three route distances of 48-, 128- and 160km along the Columbia River Gorge. The off-road riders will split off onto an 11km fire trail ascent and once they reach the top will have a choice to continue on a 48km or 100km trail route.

To finish their rides, both skinny- and fat-tired groups will convene back in Hood River. “CrossMountain riders doing the shorter distance will have a cool descent back to Hood River while longer route riders will tackle Surveyors Ridge, a 12-mile section of single track that rendezvous with the 100-mile road riders up on Mt. Hood,” Ziesing said. “Expect a party at that rest stop and be ready. What follows is a 5-mile gnarly single-track descent down the Dog River single-track trail, which is twisty and steep in parts. All in you are looking at three to four hours for the shorter ride and up to seven hours for the longer ride.”

Registration for the event costs $100 and that includes an afternoon festival along with an array of beverages from the Pacific Northwest microbreweries. CrossMountain participants will enjoy some of the amenities of the Gran Fondo that includes food and drink stops and lunches.

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