Gran Fondo gearing up for gap-to-gap rides on July 1

MIDDLEBURY — For the first time in its four years of welcoming riders from around the globe to Addison County’s world-class bicycling routes, the Vermont Gran Fondo next week will invite cyclists to literally ride into the event’s après-ride party.
The Fondo, in which bicyclists challenge themselves on a ride up into the Green Mountains in non-competitive ride, will start and finish at Woodchuck Cider House at 1321 Exchange St. in Middlebury on Saturday, July 1. Depending on the course they chose riders will leave Woodchuck at 8 or 10 a.m.
Then, as bikers roll in to the finish, from 2 to 7 p.m., the Woodchuck site will feature live music, farm-sourced food and craft-brewed beverages.
As part of the event’s registration fee, Vermont Gran Fondo registrants will receive tokens to redeem for food and drink. Friends and family are welcome to join in at the party if they’d like to share in what’s available and pay cash.
Food purveyors will include the internationally inspired tacos of Caja Madera Food Truck, the pan-Asian delicacies of Thai at Home, homegrown pies from the NOFA-VT Pizza Oven, and the farm-to-spoon sweetness of LuLu Ice Cream.
In addition to host and Gran Fondo founding sponsor Woodchuck Hard Cider, two other local establishments will be vending their beverages: Lincoln Peak Vineyard (wine) and the Drop-In Brewery (beer). Non-alcoholic drinks will be available too.
Shane Murley and his six-piece band will provide music in support of the mellow, cool-down vibe.
Riders who want to scrub up before enjoying the après-ride party can take a complimentary shower until 5:30 p.m. at Vermont Sun Fitness Center, just a few pedal strokes away at 812 Exchange St. And a hose in front of the Cider House will be available for cleaning bikes post-ride.
The Gran Fondo course will challenge riders over 108.6 miles that traverse four mountain gaps and feature 11,000 feet of climbing. The Piccolo Fondo features 39 miles and 2,900 feet of climbing. The Medio Difficile and Medio Facile Fondo courses offer intermediate courses.
Registration fees are $140 for the Gran route; $140 for either of two Medio routes; $85 for the Piccolo route. In addition to après-ride food and drink, participants will receive professional ride-day photography, SAG and mechanical support en route, well-stocked rest stops, and a Klean Kanteen stainless steel cup. Riders who upload their climb times to Strava will also have a chance to win KOM and QOM (King and Queen of the Mountain) honors.
The 2017 course raises the bar in difficulty. Maintaining the event’s base of four gaps, 100 miles and 10,000 feet of vertical gain, the numbers have been pushed this year to nearly 109 miles and 11,000 feet vertical gain, while still maintaining four gap climbs and descents. In addition to the traditional options of Gran, Medio and Piccolo routes; the Medio is now offered in two challenge levels (Difficile and Facile) with a choice of either Lincoln Gap or Middlebury Gap as the final hill climb. Lincoln Gap enjoys the status of being the steepest paved mile (Bicycling Magazine) in the U.S. as well as recently being named by Global Cycling Network as one of the nine steepest climbs in the world. 
A gran fondo 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 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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