Vermont Gran Fondo Bicycle Ride To Be Held July 1
For more information contact:
Sue Hoxie, Addison County Chamber of Commerce
Middlebury, Vermont—After hosting a record number of participants at 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 its routes criss-cross Addison County, which Yankee magazine has hailed for “the best road biking in New England.” The event attracts riders from all over the world, and particularly from Quebec.
Nearly 40 Quebecois rode last summer’s Fondo, and so far almost 25% of the registrants for this summer’s ride call the province home. They come for the scenery, to be sure, but also for the challenge, which includes the eastern slope of Lincoln Gap. At 24% maximum grade, the ascent includes the steepest paved mile in the United States.
Many Vermont Gran Fondo riders make a long weekend of their stay, bunking in at the county’s charming inns and B&Bs and enjoying the broad variety of award-winning farm-to-table restaurants and localvore food purveyors. From the Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes, to the artisanal, small-batch ice cream at Lulu’s in Bristol, to the inventive pizza at Middlebury’s American Flatbread, to the fine dining of Tourterelle in New Haven, the county’s chefs are known for inventively turning local ingredients into unforgettable dishes and treats.
On Saturday morning, while the cyclists set out on the Fondo route, their non-riding companions can spend an hour or two poking around the Middlebury Farmer’s Market. Vendors include Windfall Orchards and its prizewinning ice cider; cheesemakers Twig Farm and Blue Ledge Farm; and Good Companion Bakery, with its hot-from-the oven breads and pastries.
Middlebury, site of the Gran Fondo’s start and finish, is county seat of Addison County. Among the region’s many attractions are the concerts and exhibits at Middlebury College’s Center for the Arts; Salisbury’s Branbury Beach State Park on Lake Dunmore; and the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge.
The Middlebury Tasting Trail features multiple world-class beverage producers. They include wine (Lincoln Peak Vineyard), spirits (Stonecutter Spirits, Whistle Pig Whiskey and Appalachian Gap Distillery), and beer (Otter Creek Brewing and Drop-In Brewing), as well as the hard ciders produced by Fondo sponsor Woodchuck Hard Cider, whose visitor’s center on Exchange Street will host the start and finish and, from 2 to 7 p.m., the après-ride party, where returning cyclists will be treated to live music and fare from an array of popular food trucks.
In response to feedback, organizers have scaled back the number of unpaved roads on the ride’s three routes 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. For Canadians, it’s the perfect way to spend Canada Day.
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 an early-registration and number pick-up opportunity on the eve of the event, at Middlebury’s Frog Hollow Bikes, from noon to 7 p.m. on June 30.
For 2017 the Fondo’s routes have changed from the previous year, but certainly no less challenging. Organizers have paired the Middlebury and Lincoln gaps with two ascents of the Appalachian Gap. All told, the Gran Fondo route will cover 174 kilometers and approximately 3,350 meters of climbing—making yet again for a quadruple-gap century ride. The Medio course will traverse the Appalachian and Lincoln gaps, totaling 108 kilometers and more than 2,130 meters 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 a total distance of 63 kilometers and nearly 900 meters of climbing. The Piccolo ride will start at 10 a.m. Both of the longer routes will once again include that ascent of the eastern slope of Lincoln Gap. 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.”
Registration fees remain unchanged from last year: $110 for Gran; $100 for Medio; and $75 for Piccolo riders, respectively. Rates will 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, riding shorts, and t-shirts 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.