The successful Gran Fondo format is well known in cycling circles. The semi-competitve road ‘races’ are popular through many parts of Europe, in the UK under the guise of a ‘sportive’ and of course in the US, where some people feel they are serious enough to warrant performance enhancing supplements. The numbers of people drawn to this style of event has arguably created many of the products in the road market: the compact crankset, a more upright riding position, wider range cassettes…
A Gran Fondo can be a real spectacle for those involved. You can race it, or you can ride it. You can enjoy the feed zones manned by enthusiastic volunteers handing out local treats with the hand-eye coordination that none of your feed zone assistants have ever managed. Roads are closed, there’s a showers and a feed at the end. Routes are majestic and more than likely difficult, but overall worth doing. It’s an experience. And if you do a few, you may even get a taste for racing.
Big Hill Events have run the Dirty Gran Fondo around Wandong in Victoria, Australia, since 2012. It tracks 90km of dirt road through Mt Disappointment State Forest, with what a racer would call ‘no major climbs’ but enough to test the legs of any cyclist. You can race it, or you can ride it. You can take your mountain bike, a cyclocross bike, or some mongrel between the two. Fixies aren’t cool anymore, so why not take the fixie you painstakingly built up with all the ‘right’ parts in 2008 and give it one last outing?
The Dirty Gran Fondo is designed as an introduction to riding on dirt. There is no singletrack, that’s done on purpose. There’s no pressure to race, and be serious about the whole thing. That’s not to say you need to dress up – but it’s an event for everyone, complete with feedzones with regional specialties. Like great coffee, and vegemite sandwiches. And for 2014, the Dirty Gran Fondo falls on May 10th, which is the day before Mother’s Day. Your mum’s entry is 50% off if you bring her along!
Entries have been open since 2013, and the pricing is graded. Get in early and it costs you less!