Better Gran Fondo slated for June 4
MIDDLEBURY — Organizers of the Vermont Gran Fondo this week said the third edition of the Addison County bike ride, set for Saturday, June 4, will have a number of enhancements. For one, cyclists will find a stretch of Middlebury’s Exchange Street transformed into a hub where riders can take advantage of a bicycle safety check the night before, find convenient parking and grab coffee on ride-day morning, and take a shower upon finishing.
And for the first time, the Gran Fondo après ride party will take place just steps from the start and finish area, which has been moved to in front of the Woodchuck cidery at 1321 Exchange St. in Middlebury.
The Vermont Gran Fondo is a fun a cycling event where participants ride not for the sake of a podium finish, but for a personal challenge. It features three distances that traverse varying numbers of mountain gaps. The longest, the Gran Fondo, will take riders over four gaps for 105 miles and more than 10,000 feet of climbing. The Medio Fondo will feature 6,800 feet of climbing over 64 miles, including the Appalachian and Lincoln gaps. Riders in the Piccolo Fondo will cover 43 miles rising 3,700 feet.
Organizers have already planned two new climbs for this year’s Fondo, as well as a route with classic Green Mountain features such as covered bridges and general stores. Now they’re delivering what many previous participants have asked for: a central staging area for all pre- and post-ride activity, bike and non-bike alike.
The action will begin on the eve of the race, Friday, June 3, at Woodchuck from 3 to 6 p.m. Participants can register, pick up their packets, submit their bicycles for safety checks by professional mechanics, and taste a variety of Woodchuck’s hard cider offerings.
On the morning of the ride, participants will head to the home of the Vermont Coffee Company and Stonecutter Spirits at 1197 Exchange Street. Morning-of registration, packet pick up and free VCC coffee will be available beginning at 7:30 a.m. Riders in the Gran and Medio distances, will head up Exchange Street for a 9 a.m. start from Woodchuck; Piccolo riders will start at 11 a.m. All participants will finish their journeys at Woodchuck later in the afternoon.
Ample parking will be available at Woodchuck Cider House, Vermont Coffee Company, and just up the road at the professional office building at 1330 Exchange St.
After riders return, they can stop by Vermont Sun Fitness Center at 812 Exchange St. and take a complimentary shower until 4 p.m. Meanwhile the après ride party will get underway at Stonecutter Spirits at 3 p.m. and last until 7 p.m., with live music, food, beverages and local ice cream, as well as Stonecutter’s signature spirits.
Food is being provided by Farmers and Foragers, a local and organically sourced food truck based out of Burlington. They are a true farm-to-truck experience that takes great pride in serving up simple recipes that highlight the beautiful bounty of Vermont’s farms, lakes and forests. In addition to Farmers and Foragers, LuLu ice cream is a small batch, artisan ice cream shop created by Martha and Laura Mack, sisters, in the summer of 2012. It is housed in a small storefront on Main Street in the quintessential Vermont village of Bristol.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Daby Touré will provide live music during the après ride party. He recently released a new album on Cumbancha. Based in Paris, Touré hails originally from Mauritania with family roots in Senegal. While his father and uncles formed the pioneering Afropop band Toure Kunda, Touré has always followed his own music path, with influences ranging from African folk melodies and desert blues, to jazz, pop, reggae, funk and soul. Blessed with an open mind and an explorer’s spirit, Touré’s catchy songs are as likely to appeal to fans of African stars Habib Koité and Youssou N’Dour as they are to followers of Bob Marley, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.
Organizers said registrations for the race are up considerably this year compared to the same time last year.
The fee is $125 for the Gran distance, $115 for Medio riders and $80 for Piccolo riders. Rates increase on May 16. Riders on all three routes will be supported by mechanics and sag wagons from local bike shops and bicycle-touring companies.
With registration, participants are entitled to the after race part and also receive professional ride-day photography and custom-designed cycling socks. Vermont Gran Fondo cycling jerseys and shorts may be purchased at additional cost.
For more information and to register, go to www.VermontGranFondo.com.
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.
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