Fondly anticipating the Gran Fondo in Golden

Posted 8/21/18

I think most people had a bicycle when they were kids. I had a couple, both Stingray bikes. Banana seats and ape hanger handle bars. They were the cool bikes back in the 1960’s. We were more …

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Fondly anticipating the Gran Fondo in Golden


I think most people had a bicycle when they were kids. I had a couple, both Stingray bikes. Banana seats and ape hanger handle bars. They were the cool bikes back in the 1960’s. We were more influenced by chopper motorcycles than Tour de France racers. This was before BMX bikes or mountain bikes came into existence. But once we got a little older the bike to have was a racing bike style 10 speed. That was considered to be a more grown up type of bicycle. A lot of us rode those through our college days.

That’s right, I said 10 speed. That was as high as the number of gear combos went in those days. Now it’s pretty common to see bikes with a triple sprocket in the front and a ten gear cassette in the back that effectively makes it a 30 speed bicycle. Ah, technology. It’s a marvel.

Especially when you look at everything else that goes into a modern racing bike. Who knew that carbon fiber, disk brakes and pedals that your special shoes clip into would be a thing in the future? When we were jumping our little stingrays off plywood ramps we made, we didn’t even think riding with a helmet was going to happen.

Of course times have changed, and so has Golden a little bit. When I was a kid you rarely saw an adult on a bicycle around here. Now, it’s sort of like ground zero for both mountain and road bikes. Pro teams come here to train and we have several high-end bike shops to take good care of all their needs and equipment. If you are into bicycles, you couldn’t find a better place to ride on the planet.

So, it should be no surprise that we also find ourselves hosting some kind of bicycle race or another. Pro races have been starting here or running through Golden for years now, but they seem to change all the time as do the race names and sponsors.

Well this weekend, we will be hosting a race called the Golden Gran Fondo, Sunday, Aug. 26. It’s part of a national series of races held all over the country, but it’s not just a race. People can enter it just to ride for fun too. It has three different routes scheduled of varying lengths and only parts of the routes are timed for racing. That makes it a lot different than any other bicycle event that I have ever seen. It’s open to several age groups so it can become a family event as well. Also, you won’t need a racing license to participate.

Now, I got wind of this happening and immediately went to their website so I could share all the details with you, just in case you hadn’t heard about it and wanted to register at the last minute. OK, that’s not going to happen. If you are into participating in the Golden Gran Fondo, you are going to have to go to their website yourself and figure out all of this stuff because, holy mackerel, is it a complicated hoop-de-do. They have everything from suggested gear ratios to elevations to maps of this entire area to what to do to have your snack bags carted up to the middle of the ride routes. Trust me, having me try to explain all of the intricacies of this event would just leave all of us totally confused. It makes more sense if you can see it laid out the way they have it on their website. It’s well organized and looks like a lot of fun ... just a little over my head to elaborate on. It’s much higher tech than my old Schwinn Stingray.

Now, here’s what I can tell everyone else. The event will be starting at 8 a.m. under the Golden Arch on Washington Avenue. The routes runs up to 19th Street then head up Lookout Mountain, then back down, through town again, then up Golden Gate Canyon to the Peak to Peak Highway and north to Coal Creek Canyon. After that it winds back down to Golden and ends in the mid afternoon at Parfet Park on 10th and Washington. Parts of the route will be closed to traffic and other parts won’t. There will be lots of bicycles cruising that area basically all day long. This may not be the best time to plan a sight seeing trip in your car up those canyons with your relatives in town from Chicago. Just be aware where this is going on so you can be there to cheer on your friends, keep your eyes open for riders or avoid the area completely.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at


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