Over 5,000 Riders Tackle the 8th Annual Levi's Gran Fondo in Sonoma County
In its eighth edition, Levi’s Gran Fondo is America’s original Gran Fondo. It’s also and one of the biggest and most popular bike rides in North America with cyclists participating from all over U.S., Canada and Internationally.
The annual bicycle ride over west Sonoma County backroads, took place on Saturday morning with an estimated 5,000 cyclists departing from Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa. The mass start on Stony Point Road near West College Avenue started rolling out at 8 a.m. It was a cold autumn start. At 6 a.m. it was only 42F/6C, but as day break arrived, the temperature rode lifting everyone' spirits.
"While many of the riders in this year’s event were hard-core cyclists, a select few were everyday kids who are beneficiaries of the charitable donations raised by the popular group ride. This year, a family route was added to accommodate them" said Carlos Perez, the founder of Bike Monkey, the Santa Rosa event management company that produces the Gran Fondo.
“We’ve really infused it with this community aspect,” Perez said. “The community groups are not only beneficiaries, but participants as well.”
Perez said the first few Gran Fondos were characterized by a strong competitive atmosphere. It still has that feeling, he said, but now it’s more directly involving the community groups it helps.
With 11 routes on offer, Levi’s Gran Fondo is designed for cyclists of all abilities; from the 8 mile Family Ride, 30 mile Piccolo, 60 mile Medio, right up to the 100 mile Gran Fondo. The 100 mile Gran Fondo, the biggest and most popular distance, allowed thousands of cyclists to ride near enough the same route and KOM climbs as stage 7 of the Tour of California. A must do Bucket List ride in northern California.
The 116-mile Gran Fondo took riders in the hills west of Cazadero and wound up to the Sonoma Coast before heading back to Santa Rosa.
From the damp redwood forests at the base of King Ridge to the 360-degree panoramas at the butcher knife-thin top, the experience will forever be cherised by those who busted their guts to complete their chosen course. This includes the KOM climbs of King Ridge and Coleman Valley Road to name a few, the descents down Hauser Bridge Road and Meyers Grade will never be forgotten.
Everyone enjoyed a mass start, full support on course, with mobile mechanical support and full emergency services. Up to eight rest stops, each with whole foods as well as on-bike liquid and gel energy. Mechanical service at each stop, as well medical personal as well as mobile mechanical support.
Perez said that one year, the ride drew 7,500 riders. "We were bursting at the seams, so we set the limit at 5,500,” he said.
Once the pedaling was done, riders and their families came together at the Fondo Sonoma festival in the park to enjoy live music, great food and beverages.
Fundraising is a big part of the event, and this year for the first time participants were encouraged to raise money for charities of their choice so long as they are registered nonprofits and address the needs of at-risk youth. The event does its own fundraising benefiting such groups as Forget Me Not Farm, Social Advocates for Youth and B-Rad Foundation. The event’s Festa Del Fondo dinner and auction, held Thursday night, has in seven years raised more than $300,000, according to organizers.
The ride was launched in 2009 by Santa Rosa Ex-Professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer. Since its inception, the ride has raised nearly $1.5 million for local nonprofits. Proceeds benefit charities that include Forget Me Not Farm, a program that connects at-risk youth with animal care through the King Ridge Foundation. The charity supports youngsters, giving them the chance they deserve to succeed in life.
Through Levi's Gran Fondo and the King Ridge Foundation, USA Cycling Board Member and World class athlete Alison Tetrick of Cylance Professional Cycling raised money for Cancer Support Community, a partner of Amgen Breakaway from Cancer in the Bay Area. Alison commented: "The support center provides comprehensive care for cancer patients and their loved ones. CSC's work is important and much needed and there is a location here in the Bay Area. The ripple effect that cancer causes can be immense. The support center addresses this through programs like "kids circle" and "teen talk", two support groups for children who's parents are battling the disease."
2016 Official Results
Offical results by age and category have been posted can be found here.
It looks as if Timothy Rugg from team H24Cycling p/b MP-NB was the fastest around the Gran Fondo+WC course in a time of 4h 46m 32s and Alison Tetrick of Cylance Professional Cycling was the fastest lady on the Gran Fondo+WC in an incredible time of 5h 5m 9 secs
September 30th 2017 for the 9th Edition
The 9th annual Levi's Gran Fondo will take place on September 30th 2017 again for around 5,500 riders.
Places sell out so we recommend you enter early to secure a place and save some money too, as prices rise the later you leave it.
Register Now and Save, Prices Increase January 1st!
To register now, please visit - https://www.levisgranfondo.com/register
For full, detailed information on Levi's Gran Fondo, please visit: http://www.levisgranfondo.com
Photo: Fundraisers Celebrate - Ex-Professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer awarding Alison Tetrick her winning prize of Patrón Tequila.
Below the photo - you can relive the start of this year's Gran Fondo and relive the course!