Gran Fondo Vermont
The Vermont Gran Fondo is the Green Mountain state’s first stand-alone Gran Fondo.
The inaugural ride will be held on Saturday, June 14, 2014 with the start and finish at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl located in Hancock, Vermont.
The Vermont Gran Fondo features three different routes (104, 69, 46 miles; two or four mountain climbs).
Ted King, a professional road racing cyclist, Tour de France veteran and Middlebury College graduate, knows the area well. “As a freshman at Middlebury College, I watched my brother win a collegiate national championship finishing atop the App Gap. Middlebury is the epicenter of where I found and fell in love with cycling—for obvious reasons. The riding there in the heart of the Green Mountains is some of the most amazing as you'll find anywhere on the planet. The spectacularly sinuous roads, the iconic New England scenery, the rolling hills with just the right mix of pavement and dirt, as well as the notorious gap climbs all leave me pining for Vermont's riding when I'm riding the world over,” said King.
Event organizers anticipate several hundred riders for the first year and, depending on their level of fitness and aggression, riders should expect to be in the saddle 4 to 10 hours. Refueling stops will be available every 25-30 miles and Mechanical / SAG support is provided by two Vermont-based tour providers, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations and Discovery Bicycle Tours.
The event has already attracted a lot of interest and entries, despite the fact that Spring has yet to arrive in the Green Mountains.
The Piccolo Fondo of 46 miles and approximately 3,000 feet of climbing. The Medio Fondo of 69 miles and 7,300 feet of climbing. The Gran Fondo of 104 miles and just over 10,000 feet of climbing - crisscrossing the spine of the Green Mountains, the routes include some of the well known mountain passes, also known as Gaps in this part of New England.
These include the Appalachian, Lincoln, and Brandon and Middlebury gaps, which is colloquially known as the L.A.M.B. ride by area cyclists.
Please note that Gran Fondo riders will be doing the gaps in this sequence: App, Lincoln, Brandon, Midd.
Appalachian Gap (aka App Gap)
App Gap begins easily--the first bump is often referred to as Baby App. After that the switchbacks get tighter and the gradient steepens. Riders will be traversing this gap from west to east—Starksboro to Warren.
Appalachian Gap doesn’t have quite the punishing grade of the Lincoln Gap below, the last kilometer or so is about 18% grade.
The view from the top of App Gap is perhaps the best of the gaps.
Appalachian Gap will a tough test for even the best riders, again the descent can be twisty and technical. Be on your guard.
This a very deceptive difficult wooded climb, starting from Warren and traveling from east to west (home of Sugarbush and Mad River Glen ski areas), it climbs and descends before the real challenge begins. The road is very narrow and includes a hard packed dirt section of about 1.5 miles. As the road winds around the mountain you keep thinking each time you pop out that you’ll see the top. No such luck.
At 2.5 miles be prepared as you experience gradients of 24% for around a mile.
You'll need to be in your lowest gear and be riding at threshold. Strong riders have been seen to give up and walk before reaching the top. This is also the highest point of the ride. There is a rest stop at the top of the gap where the road intersects with the Long Trail--the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States which runs the length of the state (272 miles).
A gradient like this will test your bike handling skills as well as your climbing skills. You will need to hang over the front of your bike to keep on 2 wheels.
The total climb is 6.55 km (4 miles), 473 m (1,551 feet), Average 4.4%, Max Gradient 24%.
The Lincoln Gap is known to be the steepest paved mile in the US.
The descent to Lincoln can be unpleasant, probably the least pleasant of descents so take care. There is an unpaved section of approximately 2 miles on the western slope of Lincoln Gap.
Ted King goes on to say "Right out my back door lays the steepest one mile of pavement in America, Lincoln Gap. Don’t believe me? Google it. I rode it twice, because there are two sides to every coin and two sides to every Lincoln Gap and they’re both frigging steep."
The west to east climb is around 12 miles in length and climbs over 2,035 feet. The descents are fast with riders exceeding 50 mph--again be careful of the turns and chicane on the way down. Both sides of Brandon gap have reasonably wide shoulders and hopefully the winter season’s frost heaves will have smoothed out by June.
The ride starts from the Middlebury College Snow Bowl which is just shy of the peak on the western slope. This is another intersection with the popular Long Trail. Riders will depart the Snow Bowl and head downhill (west) towards Middlebury and turn at two different points depending on their chosen routes.
At the end of the Gran (104) and Piccolo (46) mile routes, riders will climb the Middlebury Gap from east to west and come over the top to the finish just about ¼ mile downhill from the peak. The Medio (69) riders will climb from west to east to reach the finish.
The road surface is a bit cracked up, but there is good shoulder most of the way. Riders will breeze through Middlebury College’s beautiful Bread Loaf campus. This gap is also used in the Green Mountain Stage Race (GMSR).
Gran Fondo Route
This is the 4-gap course for the Vermont Gran Fondo. It has challenging climbs, rapid descents and amazing views. Start/finish at Middlebury Snow Bowl. Total distance is approximately 104 miles with 10,722 feet of climbing. Start/finish at Middlebury Snow Bowl. Rest stops every 25-30 miles. Approximately 10% of the route is on hard-packed unpaved roads.
Link to map - http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/364057541
Piccolo Fondo Route
This is the 2-gap (Brandon & Middlebury) course for the Vermont Gran Fondo. It has challenging climbs, rapid descents and amazing views. Start/finish at Middlebury Snow Bowl. Total distance is approximately 46 miles with 3,100 feet of climbing.
Link to map - http://www.mapmyride.com/us/middlebury-vt/piccolo-fondo-2014-route-332360749
- Max elevation of 2,428 feet
- Sustained grades of 20% to 24% on Lincoln Gap
- All but a few miles are paved (approximately 10% of Gran and Medio routes)
- Loop routes for Gran and Medio routes; first/last 5 miles out/back for Piccolo route
- Start/finish in Hancock, VT
- Rest stops every 25 miles
- Mechanical and “sag” support vans
Complete event details can be found on the event website at www.VermontGranFondo.com. Cost to participate is $75-100 and participants can register via BikeReg.com.
Event organizers are working closely with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and Public Safety Department to host a safe event for participants, residents, and motorists.
Pre- and Post-Ride Events
Addison County and the town of Middlebury will fill the days around the Vermont Gran Fondo with Cyclefest '14, a series of cultural events centered on all things bicycling. Events include an authors’ panel discussion, a film screening of “The Armstrong Lie,” and an exhibition of posters commemorating and visually translating each day of the 2013 Tour de France. Post-ride, participants and their family and friends will be invited to an après ride event.
The Vermont Gran Fondo wouldn’t be possible without founding sponsors VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations and the Addison Independent; and event sponsors bMighty2, Discovery Bicycle Tours, Middlebury Fitness, The Vermont Book Shop and the Addison County Chamber of Commerce. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
About the Vermont Gran Fondo Organizers
The Vermont Gran Fondo is produced by Cycle Addison County, Inc. Addison County, Vermont was named “Best Road Biking” by Yankee Magazine in 2011. We are a non-profit organization and are applying for 501(c)3 designation. The organizing committee is made up of cycling enthusiasts and athletically-inclined tourism and business development representatives. Event proceeds will be distributed via grants to municipalities and non-profit organizations with the purpose of enhancing bicycling in Addison County through programs, education, infrastructure and/or equipment.
The event website is www.VermontGranFondo.com.