Gran Fondo Colnago USA brings Italian-style ride to Philadelphia

City major to start in massed bike ride debut

Gran Fondo Colnago USA will host its second of three Italian-style mass-start group rides on August 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The inaugural event will cater to the city’s strong contingent of avid recreational cyclists and raise funds for its primary charitable beneficiary, the American Melanoma Foundation.

“Everyone is so enthusiastic,” said co-founder Rob Klingensmith. “Philadelphia is trying to position itself as a bike friendly city and it has been getting a lot of attention in that regard. This is one way it can demonstrate that it can accommodate and is sensitive to the needs of cyclists. This city has a long heritage of hosting professional events, but there is a lot of interest on behalf of the city in hosting more recreational and mass participation events like this one.”

Gran Fondo Colnago USA hosted its first mass-start group ride last year in San Diego. Its success sparked similar events to ignite from coast-to-coast across the US. This year, Gran Fondo Colnago San Diego kicked off a three-event series that includes two new events in Philadelphia on August 8 and in Los Angeles on October 24.

“We needed to have a city with a strong and rich history in cycling,” Klingensmith said. “We needed to have a large and active Italian-American community. Lastly, it needed to be manageable. We went into our second event with those factors in mind and it just turns out that Philadelphia is proven to be an amazing city for cycling. There is also an Italian consulate there which makes for a strong community of Italians that have offered their support.”

The inaugural Gran Fondo Colnago Philadelphia is expecting roughly 1,300 participants. It will offer three challenging routes: Gran Fondo 102 km, Medio Fondo 92 km and Piccolo Fondo 50 km. All three events will start together at the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Benjamin Franklin Boulevard.

“One of the defining characteristics of Gran Fondo Colnago USA events is to have a very unique and striking course,” Klingensmith said. “Philadelphia will not disappoint. There are three routes and they all start together at the base of the steps of the art museum where Rocky ran up.”

“It will take a loop through downtown, and head out onto River Drive, north-west of the city and we'll make our way up to Valley Forge National Park,” he added. “We will head through some beautiful countryside and back into downtown to finish in Fairmont Park, in front of Memorial Hall.”

There is a maximum of 5,000 feet of climbing with a King (and Queen) of the Mountain ascent located at the Valley Forge. The Valley Forge Mountain is located 50 km into the medium and long routes. It is under two kilometres in length, and averages 10 percent gradient.

“The amount of climbing will surprise a lot of people,” Klingensmith said. “There are a lot of punchy little climbs and standing on the pedals. There is nothing long or sustained, but over the course of the ride the vertical will definitely add up.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will wear bib number 1 to start one of the three routes. “The mayor is extremely supportive of cycling events and really enjoys watching them. We were surprised my his involvement in this. When he gets involved it certainly raises the attention and the profile of the event.”

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