King Ridge Granfondo 'even better' for 2010

Leipheimer’s event will likely sell out for a second year in a row

Pro racer Levi Leipheimer promises that his King Ridge Granfondo will be bigger and better the second time around.

The Santa Rosa, California group ride raised over $100,000 dollars for good causes in its first year and plans to build on that success in October.

“Our main feedback was that it was the best organised ride they [the participants] had ever been to, and that was only the first year," Leipheimer said. "That gives us a lot of motivation to make it even better this year."

The King Ridge Granfondo is managed by Bike Monkey, who produce a Santa Rosa-based quarterly bike magazine. The organisation also puts on local cyclo-cross and mountain bike events.

"Bike Monkey will be organising the King Ridge Granfondo again," Leipheimer said. "It's a cycling culture portal for our area. When I first had the idea last March they took it and ran with it and did a fantastic job. They are excited to make it bigger and better this year."

The mass-start group ride caters to all cycling levels by offering three different distances: A 165km Granfondo that incorporates the famed King Ridge climb, a 105km Mediofondo and a 57km Picolofondo. All three are scheduled to take place on 9 October on the outskirts of Leipheimer's hometown of Santa Rosa.

"Every year the riders can take home a badge of honour, a jersey or a number plate and keep track of their time, something that shows their achievements," Leipheimer said. "It's a really tough ride, but we're going to take care of you. We want our participants to feel like they accomplished something."

The ride has nearly doubled its registration capacity from 3,000 participants last year to 6,000 in 2010. More than 4,500 people have signed up since registration opened on 15 December 15. The Granfondo is full and there are limited spots left in the two remaining categories.

"There are a lot of reasons for having a cap," Leipheimer said. "It's based on how many resources we have, the number of rest stops that we can offer, the space at the start and finish venues, parking and expo space. These are all things that the organisers calculate and they want to make sure the event is done well and that everyone has a great experience and we don't want to over do everything."

Bike Monkey is exploring options to improve the timing system for 2010 and offer better tracking of participants and their times for both years. The Granfondo group will be protected by a rolling enclosure that allows the group to ride free from traffic.

This year, the event will continue its fundraising focus by adding several new beneficiaries.

The inaugural event raised $100,000 and funds were divided among three beneficiaries. The City of Santa Rosa was the primary recipient as part of an effort to help bring the Tour of California back to its community. Additionally, funds were allocated to the Forget Me Not Farm, a Humane Society in Sonoma County, and the Livestrong Foundation.

Leipheimer's goal is to make sure its growth will continue into a long-term future. "The day we have the 20th annual King Ridge Granfondo will be great," he said. "That's my vision for the event.”

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