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Home >> What is a Gran Fondo?
 

What Is a Gran Fondo?

Gran Fondos are mass participation cycling events that have enjoyed incredible popularity in Europe for decades and have become popular in North America, Australia and increasingly, worldwide. Take a scenic, mountainous course and add several thousand cyclists ranging from pros to beginners. Mix in roving and fixed mechanical and medical support, feed zones manned by cheerful volunteers serving up healthy snacks, fruit, and drinks, and traffic halted at intersections to let you pass. Garnish with enthusiastic and supportive spectators lining the course. Top it off with coverage by major cycling magazines. Energy, excitement and atmosphere - this is Gran Fondo, a phenomenon that took Italy by storm.

Gran Fondo is an Italian term which very loosely translates to “Big Ride”. Riders, ranging from professional to recreational cyclists, are encouraged to participate in this event for camaraderie, scenic views, personal acheivement and the chance to win prizes. Think of a Gran Fondo as a combination of a group ride, race, and tour, all in one. Mechanical support, SAG support, with pre, during, and post ride food & refreshments are available to all those who participate. Think of the ride as a big rolling party! In Italy, Gran Fondo events include; challenging routes, electronic timing, fantastic giveaways, a consumer expo, well-stocked aid stations, mobile tech support and a fun post-race party. 

Gran Fondo riders want to improve upon their personal best, challenge themselves, their friends and their teammates. Many even ride to win!

Gran Fondos  are designed for everyone. Whether you are an experienced cyclist wanting to push your own limits, race, or you are someone new to riding and want to ride at your own pace, a Gran Fondo typically has a perfect ride and group for you!

Italian Heritage

The first Gran Fondo ever held was the Nove Colli on July 12, 1970 in Cesenatico, Italy. Today, Nove Colli is arguably Italy’s biggest cycling party with a large 2-day expo and a 12,000 rider field tackling three distances of 80km, 120km and 200km.

With chip timing becoming more popular in the 1990s, the number of Gran Fondo events grew rapidly in Italy. Today, over 100 Gran Fondos are held in Italy between February and October. Most of them have 500-1,000 participants while a few of the bigger ones go beyond that.

The Italian Cycling Federation defines Gran Fondo as

• at least 120km long (75 miles)
• chip timed from start to finish
• with prizes for the fastest riders in each category (typically age)

In short, in Italy, Gran Fondos are races for everyone.

North America

Gran Fondos arrived in the US around 2009 with Levi's Gran Fondo. Most US Gran Fondo's aren't what they call "True Italian" Gran Fondos mainly because the roads aren't fully closed, except for the GFNY New York - which is developing into its own worldwide series.

In 2010 there were a handful of events, now in 2016 there are expected to be around 60+ events in North America alone and the scene is growing very quickly. We aim to make you aware of all the events and news for North America, Australia, Europe and beyond.

Standards vary, so we aim to give a clear and concise guide for each event, so riders know what to expect or in some cases, demand! This doesn't detract from the smaller events, it's all about knowing what you're getting for your money and making the right choices, for you.

You never know - one day you might find yourself in the Italian Dolomites riding a Gran Fondo with 10,000 feet of climbing with thousands of cyclists from all over the world - or travelling to the west coast to try out the Californian climbs, or the east coast Appalachian mountains?

The Future & Gran Fondo Guide

The growing scene is evolving organically - especially in North America.

Gran Fondo Guide is the original english speaking Gran Fondo site (non Italian). Since we started in January 2013, we have had over 450,000 unique visitors and the traffic is constantly increasing.

One thing is for sure - cycling is part of the future, in a big way, on a global scale.

The first Gran Fondo ever held was the Nove Colli on July 12, 1970 in Cesenatico, Italy

 

About Us

We aim to give our rapidly growing community immediate and full access to all that is happening in the Gran Fondo scene - whether rider or organizer. We do not organise any events ourselves, we work with ALL event organisers, sponsors to support and promote all their events in the best way we can.

We're on facebook and twitter too and you can contact us here if you have any queries and want any more events added.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to bring you the most comprehensive, up to date news, results and reviews on Gran Fondo cycling events in North America and beyond, in English. To promote health, well-being, sustainability, Italian cycling culture, international and domestic travel. 

Difficulty

From 2016 onwards and in order to guide cyclists of all abilities, we have graded the difficulty of events as below:

  • A - EASY, BEGINNERS/FAMILY, up to 20 miles, flat terrain
  • B - EASY MODERATE, LEISURE cyclists, up to 40 miles, rolling terrain
  • C - MODERATE, PROFICIENT cyclists, up to 60 miles, some climbing
  • D - CHALLENGING, SEASONED cyclists, up to 100 miles OR moderate sustained climbs
  • E - DIFFICULT, EXPERIENCED, over 100 miles OR longer sustained climbs
  • F - EX. DIFFICULT, EXPERT ENDURANCE, over 120 miles OR very long sustained climbs

2016 Worldwide Gran Fondo Calendar

Were constantly confirming the dates and details of thousands of events across the United States, Australia, Europe and beyond. Here's some direct links to our comprehensive events calendars:

2016 US Gran Fondo events calendar

2016 Canadian Gran Fondo events calendar

2016 Australian Gran Fondo events calendar

2016 Italian Gran Fondo events calendar

2016 UK Gran Fondo events calendar

 
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