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Compete on May 18 in this year’s Echelon Gran Fondo Series

Echelon Gran Fondo - Bike Race - May 18, 2013

A gran fondo is an Italian cycling term that translates to “big ride,” “long distance,” or “great endurance.” It can be all those things, certainly, but it’s also a big huge cycling event that culminates in a gran festa or gran celebrazione — a great big party with lots of food, drink, music and people.

Lots and lots of people, actually — and many of them will be riders.

One of the truly “gran” things about a gran fondo is that it’s open to different levels of riders. If you can peddle 11 mostly flat miles, sign up! Got the training to tackle 75 miles with lots of mountains? You can enter, too. And if you want to do the course on a recumbent or tandem bike, you can.

The best thing is that, as the promoters say, “No matter how you registered, or which route you choose, everyone at Echelon is treated the same.”

Now that we’ve got our terms straight, here’s the big news: the first in the three-race Echelon Gran Fondo Series* takes place in Sonoma County. The Echelon Gran Fondo Sonoma 2013 gets under way May 18, 8 a.m., at Sonoma’s town Plaza. All riders depart at the same time, but eventually separate into three separate courses:

  • 11-mile (18K) Mini-Fondo Course: East past Gundlach-Bundschu Winery and out to the wine region southeast of Sonoma before returning to Sonoma plaza. See the course
  • 50-mile (81K) Medio Course: East to the Carneros wine region, north along Napa’s western edge, along Dry Creek Road and up Trinity Grade, and then down to Glen Ellen before returning to Sonoma plaza. See the course
  • 75-mile (121K) Gran Course: This course follows the 50-mile Medio Course, above, but at Glen Ellen the Gran Course riders split off and head further west for a loop along Sonoma Mountain before returning to Sonoma plaza. See the course

The races includes mobile SAG support, rest stops with ride replenishment, and, of course, clearly-marked and very scenic courses. Events and fun stuff surrounding the race include a pre-ride Gala; a post-ride festival with local music, food, wine and beer; an official Echelon Gran Fondo wine glass and t-shirt, and more. If you’re in the race, friends and family can join you for the post-race festivities (you’ll need to purchase tickets when you register).

* The other two races in the 2013 Echelon Gran Fondo series are in Silicon Valley, Calif. (Sept. 1), and Hood River, Ore. (Sept. 28). The series is produced by Project Sport, a San Francisco-based marketing/event management company founded in 2002.

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