S0me ideas may be long overdue. This weekend Levi Leipheimer hosts the King Ridge Gran Fondo based out of his adopted home town Santa Rosa - the event is sold out, as in SOLD OUT. That happened over a month ago as 3,500 cyclist want to experience a bit of Levi's roads and get a taste of what tens of thousands of Italian cyclists get virtually every weekend of the late spring through early fall. Gran Fondos are a cherished tradition of the cycling passionate Italians.
More on the ride in this VeloNews article: Sell-out crowd of 3,500 expected at Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo and a nice review, photos and map over on steephill.tv
Levi isn't the first or only Gran Fondo in the US, but its the first to get into the Italian flavor of the thing - several local and domestic pros from teams like Bissel and BMC will be at the start, and everyone doing the Gran Fondo King Ridge (the full version) will have a timing chip.
Gran Fondos are a bit century ride and a bit race - at least the Italian versions. They're a hybrid we don't really have much of in the US, but could badly use. They keep the full scalle of road cycling connected to the community and alive. It's not uncommon to see a handful of local pros and past pros lined up at the start. In some Italian Gran Fondos the biggest names in cycling are fixtures at their local event. Whole towns are taken over for the day or weekend. And like Levi's Gran Fondo the proceeds often support local cycling and another charity. I wish I could be there, abbia un grande giro della bici!
A great way to discover Italy - Gran Fondos
Maybe we need a few more Gran Fondos popping up around the country??