When Murph first tweeted this story about a “Palo Alto Gran Fondo” to me, I wondered, “Where will they ride a hundred miles in Palo Alto?”
It turns out they don’t plan to stay in Palo Alto. The ride (with 60, 80, and 95 mile options) begins on a closed course in downtown Palo Alto. The rides then go through Woodside, to Skyline, La Honda, through Pescadero, up Highway 1 along the Pacific coast to Tunitas Creek and up and over again for a return to apres ride festivities in Palo Alto again.
Downtown Palo Alto, in the meantime, will stay closed to car traffic for an all day block party. While the hard men and women ride to the coast, friends, family and anybody else are invited to stay behind and ride, walk, play, or just watch and enjoy.
Gran Fondo are mass start rides. Unlike your typical American charity rides, though, the rides are timed to challenge the road cycling enthusiast. This is not a UCI sanctioned event, and no racing license is necessary to ride — it’s for wannabes like me. You don’t need a super high end road bike or ‘professional’ kit, and I’m sure we’ll see a handful of kids valiantly trying this ride on mountain bikes and maybe even fixed gears or singlespeeds.
Because the the Palo Alto Gran Fondo is a fundraiser benefiting the Livestrong Foundation, organizers give time bonuses for those meeting certain sponsorship levels. If you raise $250 in contributions, for example, you get five minutes knocked off of your time.
The Palo Alto Gran Fondo happens September 17, 2011. Event details at Echelon Gran Fondo.