Sunday is a grand time for the Gran Fondo

Column by John Akal
Posted 6/18/19

I have lots of ways that I find out about the upcoming events that I report here in this column, but usually it doesn’t involve a bunch of bright orange signs warning that most of the main streets …

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Sunday is a grand time for the Gran Fondo

Posted

I have lots of ways that I find out about the upcoming events that I report here in this column, but usually it doesn’t involve a bunch of bright orange signs warning that most of the main streets surrounding my house are going to be closed for an event. I’m taking that as a personal message letting me know that I better tell the community what’s going on and fill everyone in on why your typical errand route might be a little disrupted this weekend.

In three words, it’s because of the Golden Gran Fondo. I know, it sounds like something on the menu at a fancy Swiss restaurant that looks like a chateau in the mountains and involves melted cheese or chocolate.

Well, actually it’s a huge bicycle race that’s open to everyone from beginners to experts. It’s part of an international tour of races called the Gran Fondo and this one starts and ends here in Golden. It’s going to be happening this Sunday, June 23. Basically, you can just block out the hours of 7 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. on your calendar and anticipate a town full of bicyclists coming and going most of the day.

What we’re talking about is basically a bicycle road race through the mountainous terrain of the foothills surrounding the area. There are three routes that participants can sign up for. The long “Gran Route” is 78 miles long (they shortened it from 91 because of road construction). Then there’s the 68-mile medium “Medio Route” as well as a short 20-mile “Piccolo Route.” Basically, you pick the route that best suits your ability level and prizes are awarded in each category. They also divide the groups into age and gender classifications.

The three routes go at the same time. The groups start on Washington Avenue in Golden and head up Lookout Mountain. Then some head north across the Peak to Peak highway as far as Nederland. Others head south towards I-70 and somewhere in the mix are both Golden Gate and Coal Creek canyons. For details of all the routes, go to the race website and look at three different maps. They all end up at Parfet Park on 10th Street and Washington Avenue.

Ok, are you with me so far? Good, because that is just the “where” part of the equation. Next is the “how” part. Unlike most races you see, this one is not a “start-to-finish” race. Instead different sections of each route are timed, while other sections are not. Your combined times of those timed areas is what determines your placement. So, you aren’t going to see a whole bunch of fans waiting at the finish line to cheer on the winners. The results will be announced at the end of the whole thing. Also, this is not a completely closed course, so riders are required to follow all traffic laws. It’s not the Tour de France, although some of the routes do follow the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge as well as parts of the Coors Classic races.

So, that’s pretty much the rundown of what the Golden Gran Fondo is all about. Of course, here in Golden we have lots of avid cyclists and most of them know all about this race. People have been registering for it since January, so this is kind of a guide for those of you who aren’t in the cycling loop.

I do want to say this about it. Although it is open to all levels of cyclists and specifically says “beginners,” they mean beginning bicycle racers, not the guy who just bought a bike last month to get back into shape and still can’t quite get the hang of clipping into his pedals. It’s a really fun event, but people train for it. There are some very challenging climbs at high altitude and pretty fast descents. If this sounds like your kind of thing, then go to www.granfondonationalseries.com/gran-fondo-golden and check it all out. You still have time to register. And also, a big “high five” and kudos to those who will be racing. It’s no easy thing.

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 jaimaging@aol.com.

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