Gran Fondo means ‘big ride’ in Italian
Gran Fondos are mass participation cycling events that have enjoyed a huge amount of popularity in Europe for decades, and are now increasingly spreading around the world. Currently considered cycling’s version of the marathon, ‘big rides’ come with all sorts of distance options for every level of cyclist.
With a big start arch, beautiful course, thousands of other riders ranging from pro to beginner and a festival atmosphere of endorphins, spectators and volunteers, a Gran Fondo offers some of the most enjoyable challenges you can experience on two wheels. There are food and drink stations along the way, as well as mechanical and medical backup, and everyone’s just darn-well having a good time. The Gran Fondo phenomenon took Italy by storm, and we’re stoked to help to bring it to North America!
So, why else do people take part? Well, there really is something for everyone. Fast or slow, new to riding or seasoned pro, pushing your limits or wanting to take in the surroundings, there’s a perfect group, speed and distance option for you to join. You’ll find plenty of prizing to compete for thanks to chip timing, whether it’s a big check, bragging rights or personal pride, and a shiny medal gets placed around your neck to immortalize your accomplishments. With some events offering traffic free routes, it’s a perfect way to cycle in the world’s most beautiful locations. And when you cross the line, there’s a party to celebrate out in the sun and let the ride truly sink in.
It’s widely held that the first Gran Fondo was the Nove Colli [Nine Hills] in Cesenatico, Italy, 1970. Today, the event is still going strong as arguably Italy’s biggest cycling festival with 12,000 riders tackling distances in the valleys between 80-200 km.
Following the Nove Colli came hundreds of other events around Italy, especially boosted by chip timing technology advances in the 1990s. Most events have around 500 – 1000 riders, with some of the largest going beyond that.
In Italy, a Gran Fondo is considered at a minimum:
- 70 miles+ long
- Fully chip-timed
- Age category prized
Join the party
From the makers of North America’s largest and best voted Gran Fondo in North America, RBC GranFondo Silicon Valley was created with the aim of raising the bar for Gran Fondos on the American continent.
More than just a ride, the event is centered around a festival party curated by leading Executive Chef Martín Morelli. Situated at the impressive arena of University Circle, East Palo Alto, delicious street-food style stations await the riders when they cross the line as well as an ice cold drink (soft or hard), plus DJ music, hospitality areas and more.
The ride itself is beauty personified. Taking a tour through the Santa Cruz hills, some of the best cycling roads in the country will be heading your way, including iconic local destinations such as La Honda and The Bike Hut. There are hills that will challenge and descents that will reward, framed by the ruggedly mesmeric Pacific coastline. We can’t think of many places better to ride.
Two routes are available to choose from with different distances depending on the challenge you’re seeking. Plentiful rest-stops are on hand to keep you feeling good, and there’s an army of support crew both roving and fixed to help your bike stay happy too.
The only thing you’ll need to worry about is pulling off the perfect grin for the photographers. Get ready to experience a cycling event at the next level.
Get ready for RBC GranFondo Silicon Valley.