The gran fondo - Italian for big ride - has slowly but steadily caught on in the United States. This year, the Gran Fondo National Championship Series will host events in six states, each with three distance options from 30 to approximately 100 miles, and each featuring four timed sections. The best cumulative time from those four sections wins, with various age-group breakdowns. The rest of the ride, you can spin easy, hammer or do a combination of both.
Each rider will have an electronic timing chip, and GFNCS founder Reuben Kline said the course feature a mix of challenge and beautiful scenery. And Kline is keen for the events to be welcoming to new competitors.
"I see gran fondo bicycle racing becoming the next endurance sports discipline," Kline said. "One could say the sport of bicycle racing has not been user friendly in the States. Gran fondo bicycle racing eliminates the 'peloton dependency' of traditional bicycle racing. The rider is timed against the clock then compared to the other competitors."
In the US, a number of gran fondos have sprung up in recent years, including Levi's Granfondo, the Gran Fondo New York, the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia five-event series and a two-day Floyd Landis gran fondo in New York.
The 2013 GFNCS series will include the following events:
- March 17 — Dade City, Florida
- April 14 — Clayton, Georgia
- June 9 — Newfoundland, New Jersey
- June 23 — Golden, Colorado
- August 4 — Boone, North Carolina
- September 22 — Frederick, Maryland
For more information visit www.gfncs.com.
Riders climbing through a winding section of the 2012 Maryland course