Despite the rapid expansion of mass participation cycling events across the UK, the Plymouth Gran Fondo, due to be held on 31 May 2015, will actually be the city's first sportive – and it looks like it should be a cracker.
The Plymouth Gran Fondo will take in scenery around Plymouth, West Devon, Dartmoor and East Cornwall. It is billed as a sportive that will take riders on a tour of stunning waterfront and coastal areas to magnificent historic houses and breath-taking landscapes.
Riders will be able to choose from the 160km Gran Fondo or 60km Piccolo route options. Both events are part of a weekend of cycling in the city, which includes a city-centre road race on the Saturday evening before the main event on Sunday.
“The idea of the weekend is to showcase the area to riders of all abilities. We have teamed up with Plymouth City Council, the National Trust and Destination Plymouth to ensure that the riding of the highest quality and that there is plenty for friends and family to do.
“The event will have guided leisure rides on traffic-free routes, a road race as well as the three routes on the Gran Fondo. If you get sick of riding, there’s plenty to explore around Plymouth’s historic waterfront, from great bars to the art deco lido!”
The routes feature plenty of quiet lanes weaving through gorgeous countryside
The organisers are warning that the main Gran Fondo route is tough from the off.
Pascoe says: “The route takes in the amazing scenery of the Dartmoor National Park and the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Tamar Valley and Cornwall. At 100 miles, it offers up over 11,000ft (3,500m) of climbing, providing a challenge for even the most committed rider. Riders will take in the three major climbs at Cornwood, Denham Bridge and Cotehele. It will then head along the spectacular coastal road from Looe to Rame Head, and back across the Tamar Ferry.”
The 60km Piccolo route is described as “a taste of the Gran Fondo but without the heart attack”. It frontloads the climbing, and gives riders a calmer downhill return to Plymouth. The route climbs up to Dartmoor, heads to Buckland Abbey – home of Sir Francis Drake – and then follows Drake's trail back to sea level. There will be pacesetters for this route to help first-timers get through the event and secure their finisher medals.
Visit the Plymouth Gran Fondo website to for more information and to enter.