Vermont Gran Fondo Back with Focus on Rider Comforts
Fourth edition of “quadruple-gap century” returns with later July 1 date
Middlebury, Vermont — January 3, 2017 –
After hosting a record 300 participants for last year’s event, the Vermont Gran Fondo will return for its fourth edition on July 1, 2017, with a special emphasis on the rider experience.
The Green Mountain State’s premier cycling event already has a reputation for challenging climbs and breathtaking views, and will once again offer an abundance of both as the routes criss-cross Addison County, which Yankee magazine has hailed as “the best road biking in New England.”
In response to feedback, organizers have scaled back the number of unpaved roads and added fully stocked rest stops and Port-a-Potties atop every gap. Even the date was chosen with the cyclist in mind: July 1 is later in the typical rider’s seasonal training schedule and offers more reliable weather than early June. In partnership with Woodchuck Hard Cider, the start/finish zone and after party have been brought together in one venue.
Meanwhile, popular features that riders have come to expect will be back. They include on-course mechanical support from both motorbikes and SAG wagons, as well as EMTs; Strava-synched King and Queen of the Mountain prizes; and a free bike check and early-registration and number pick-up opportunities on the eve of the event, at Middlebury’s Frog Hollow Bikes, from noon to 7 p.m. on June 30.
Repaving on Vermont Route 73 will reduce sections of the Brandon Gap Road to gravel, so for 2017 organizers have paired the Middlebury and Lincoln gaps with two ascents of the Appalachian Gap. All told, the Gran Fondo route will cover 109 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing—yet again, a quadruple-gap century ride. The Medio course will traverse the Appalachian and Lincoln gaps, making for 67 miles and more than 7,000 feet of elevation. The Gran and Medio rides both start at 8 a.m. The Piccolo course follows the Gran route into Lincoln and splits off towards Ripton with total distance of 39 miles and nearly 2,900 feet of climbing. The Piccolo ride will start at 10 a.m.
Both of the longer routes will once again include an ascent of the eastern slope of Lincoln Gap, whose 24% maximum grade includes the steepest paved mile in the U.S. But in another response to rider feedback, the climb will take place earlier in the ride than it did in 2016.
“We survey participants extensively and try to fold their wishes and best ideas into the following summer’s Fondo,” says event director Sue Hoxie. “We believe that’s why ridership has ticked up every summer since we started. But one thing has remained consistent: that people regard Lincoln Gap as our legendary climb. It’s the secret sauce everyone wants a taste of.”
Once again the event will begin and end at Woodchuck Hard Cider on Exchange Street in Middlebury, with the après-ride party taking place at Woodchuck from 2 to 7 p.m. Returning cyclists will be treated to live music and fare from an array of popular food trucks.
Registration fees are unchanged from last year: $110 for Gran; $100 for Medio; $75 for Piccolo riders, respectively. Rates increase at the end of March and again in mid-June making early registration the most economical choice. With registration, participants also receive professional ride-day photography; a branded promotional item and entry into the après-ride party. Vermont Gran Fondo-branded jerseys and shorts may be purchased at additional cost.
A gran fondo, named after the Italian phrase for “personal challenge,” is a one-day bicycle event first popularized in Europe that emphasizes participation over competition. It’s typically characterized by a festive atmosphere, camaraderie, and post-ride food and drink.
For more information and to register, go to www.VermontGranFondo.com
The Vermont Gran Fondo wouldn’t be possible without founding sponsors VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, bMighty2 and the Addison Independent; and event sponsors Woodchuck Hard Cider and the Addison County Chamber of Commerce. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
About the Vermont Gran Fondo Organizers
The Vermont Gran Fondo is produced by Cycle Addison County, Inc., which is chartered to support cycling in the region through programming, education, infrastructure and equipment. Its members include cycling enthusiasts and athletically inclined tourism and business development representatives.