2011 Gran Fondo USA series washes through Philadelphia

Record rainfall shortens courses despite rider turnout

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This past weekend wasn’t the first time Gran Fondo USA were forced to deal with inclement weather, but it may have been the worst as nearly five inches of rain fell on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the second running of the Gran Fondo Colnago Philadelphia.

The rain started Saturday night and didn’t let up till the last rider crossed the finish line on Avenue of the Republic in Fairmount Park. “I thought that [at our Gran Fondo] in San Diego in 2010 we got lots of rain but this was worse,” Matteo Gerevini, founder of the Gran Fondo USA series, told BikeRadar.

“Everything was great on Saturday, great expo, there were lots of people – almost 1,500 registered at the end – but unfortunately it started raining Saturday afternoon and by Sunday morning we were waiting for the police to decide what to do because stuff was floating away. It was the fifth rainiest day in the last 20 years.”

Gran Fondo USA officials ended up cancelling the ‘Gran’ 108-mile long route and bolstering mobile neutral support for the 33-mile short and 73-mile medium routes in anticipation of more mechanicals and the possibility of crashes.

Despite the weather, at 7.15am on Sunday Gerevini estimated close to 1,000 headed out with a three-Ferrari escort, from the local dealership Algar Ferrari, to tackle the two shorter routes. “I expected like 50 or 100 people to show up,” he said. “But it was a long line that took almost 10 minutes go through the start. In the end we had 1,000 people. It was like a normal sunny day.”

The rain didn’t stop until 5pm, around a half hour after the last rider crossed the line. “I was really surprised about how positive people were on this bad day,” said Gerevini. “It was a very hilly, challenging course; doing 70 miles in these conditions is like 200 miles in normal conditions.”

Gran Fondo USA credited FSA’s neutral support service as at least part of the reason people remained happy. The support team changed numerous flats in ‘pro’ style, loaning out fresh wheels to many of those who punctured. “We had great assistance from FSA,” said Gerevini. “There were a lot of punctures and they changed the wheels.”

2011 Series finale: Gran Fondo Miami

Gran Fondo USA say they’re looking forward to their series finale in Miami, Florida for two reasons: it’s their second new destination for 2011 and the city hold a great appeal for riders from overseas. “A lot of people are going to come from Europe, really a lot,” said Gerevini. “People want to come; this is going to be our big finish of the year.”

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When asked about the highlight of the season so far, Gerevini didn’t hesitate. “The first edition in LA was really challenging, for us as well as the competitors; you can imagine starting in Beverly Hills, cycling isn’t exactly the main interest there,” he said. “It was really an event that amazed me because I got great feedback from the city – they understand that cycling is a great way for people to experience their city. It’s going to be a big, big event in the future. Andy Garcia came to the Colnago party and it was a really Hollywood style event, and that’s what we want.”