The Golden Gran Fondo is one of the toughest in America
10,000 feet of climbing through Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Relive the Coors Classic and American Flyers in one incredible day
The Gran Fondo National Series (GFNS) event in Golden, Colorado taking place on Sunday June 23rd, will take riders on an unforgettable journey through the Rocky Mountains. It‘s earned a reputation as one of the hardest one-day bike challenges in the country, and for good reason.
With over 10,000 feet of climbing over the Gran Fondo course, traversing high alpine gravel roads, grades approaching 20% in some sections, and all starting at an altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level - no one expects an easy day!
FEAR NOT - there’s a Medio Fondo of 63 miles and a Piccolo Fondo of just over 20 miles for all levels of fitness and abilities of riders to enjoy a grand day out!
Ride with your friends, Race with your friends!
With up to four timed sections, cyclists can compete for prizes across a range of categories for men, women and a team event too.
While riders have the opportunity to pace themselves and enjoy the view, professional or competitive cyclists can "show their strength" at every section. When you’re outside those timed sections, you have an opportunity to look around and enjoy the beautiful scenery, relax, stop at aid stations and regroup with friends.
It starts by tracing the route of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge towards continental divide. It features some of the same roads used in the Coors Classic and featured in the movie American Flyers (Kevin Costner’s classic cycling film that was set in the town of Golden).
Upon reaching the scenic Peak to Peak Highway, racers will be treated to high alpine vistas, lung busting ascents, a taste of hard pack dirt road, and a total of 10,860 feet of climbing before returning to downtown Golden where riders can replenish their exhausted bodies but full souls. This course is sure to test your climbing prowess while treating you to some of the most ruggedly beautiful landscapes anywhere.
Golden’s iconic climb, used in races including the Colorado Classic and Coors Classic is the first timed section. This is a four and a half mile climb with nearly 1,200 feet of climbing that hairpins past Mount Zion and Windy Park Saddle and is a brute of a climb, which starts as you leave Golden.
Gavin Mannion still holds the KOM set in April 2018.
For the ladies, it's Anne Toth who rides for Groove Subaru Excel Sports from Golden who holds the QOM, she set this time on the Mines Time Trial in March in 2016.
After the iconic Lookout climb catch your breath, the route loops back through the city of Golden, dropping off the 20 mile Piccolo riders and then continuing on to Golden Gate Canyon for around 11 miles of climbing, past Mt Galbraith Park, Guy Hill and Mount Tom. You’ll climb over 3,000 feet on this stretch of road to the 2nd timed climb of Mountain Base Road, so make sure you pace yourself.
Remember to take time to eat and drink at the aid stations and stock up as it’s a big day out in the saddle.
Mountain Base Road
Just after the second feed station, turning onto Mountain Base Road, the 2nd timed section begins. It’s a 3.1 mile climb with 875 feet of climbing, which makes for an elusive average gradient of 5.8% since the first mile is relatively flat. The road kicks up to nearly 20% in the middle and is rated as an Haute Category 3 climb (the grading used for climbs in the Tour de France).
Pro Sepp Kuss currently holds the KOM, with top riders like Peter Stetina, Taylor Phinney and Lachlan Morton featuring in the top 10.
Evelyn Stevens from San Francisco, who rides for Boels Dolmans Cycling Team holds the QOM.
There’s a great respite after all that climbing, its downhill for around 13 miles so enjoy it! Heading north onto the Peak to Peak Highway through Rollinsville, past Los Lagos Reservoir before turning east onto Coal Creek Canyon.
Make sure you use the descents to hydrate and eat to replenish your energy stores, there’s still lots of climbing to do.
After the quaint town of Pinecliffe the road kicks up to around 6%. Enjoy the uphill switchbacks to the 3rd feed station at Wondervu Café after 43 miles. You’re just over halfway on the Gran Fondo route.
After the 3rd feed, it’s just under 4 miles of downhill towards Denver, before turning sharp right onto Twin Spruce Road, savour it - cause here comes the 3rd timed climb.
Twin Spruce is 4.7 miles long and climbs 1,368 feet. That’s 5.5% average gradient with a section of 12.2%.
Pro Serge Tsvetkov holds the fastest time, set on stage 3 of the 2017 Colorado Classic. Stephanie Newkirk from Boulder took the QOM time on a group ride last July.
You’ll find yourself on the wooded climb of Gap Road with Tremont Mountain on your left, the last 3 miles of Gap Road is hard packed dirt!
Back onto the Peak to Peak Highway for 3 miles on rolling terrain, before turning east towards Golden Gate Canyon Park. The good news is its 9 miles downhill to the last timed climb, having cycled 79 miles.
Again make sure you use the descents to hydrate and eat - to replenish your energy stores. Take time to eat and drink at the aid stations and stock up.
The final climb for Gran Fondo riders, and it is a doozy! By now your legs will screaming for you to stop. It’s time to grit your teeth and show your true metal!
The longest climb awaits and its 5.3 miles on broken pavement, with a sustained straight steep pitch just before the initial summit. When you reach this first crest it’s not over – you’ll enjoy a dreamy smooth pavement descent before the final kick up the last 150 feet.
Serge Tsvetkov took the KOM at last year’s Golden Gran Fondo, and Aimee Vasse took the QOM at the same time!
It's all downhill!
Congratulations, Its 7 miles downhill straight to Golden for food and beer!
You’ve made it! After 91 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing making the Golden Gran Fondo one of the hardest Gran Fondo’s in America. Hot food and cold beer waiting for you at the finish line, plus chances to win valuable prizes!
The Medio Fondo contains the timed climbs of Lookout Mountain and Mountain Base Road and the Piccolo, Lookout Mountain and they provide 2 and 1 aid stations respectively.
There are fully stocked aid/feed stations on all the routes to keep you fed and hydrated. A goody bag, water bottle and other various swag items included.
A finishers Medal for completing the Gran Fondo route, awards for age placement, a raffle and of course the chance to win prizes for placement in the overall timed climbs.
4 Timed Sections in the Gran Route – Best Combined Time Wins
Custom “Race Winner” jersey from DNA Cycling for all Gran Route age group winners
Awards and Prizes for Gran, Medio, and Piccolo age-group podiums
No racing license required
Fully stocked aid stations and SAG support to keep you going
Hot food and cold beer waiting for you at the finish line, plus chances to win valuable prizes!
For more information, please visit https://www.granfondonationalseries.com/gran-fondo-golden