Take a scenic, mountainous course and add several thousand cyclists ranging from pros to eighty-year-old cycle tourists. Mix in roving and fixed mechanical and medical support, feed zones manned by cheerful volunteers serving up sandwiches, fruit, and drinks, and traffic halted at intersections to let you pass. Garnish with enthusiastic and supportive spectators lining the course. Top it off with coverage by major cycling magazines. Energy, excitement, atmosphere!– this is gran fondo, a phenomenon that took Italy by storm.
Gran fondo means long distance or great endurance (it does not mean "big ride"–there are running and cross country ski gran fondos too). Some cyclists ride for the satisfaction and pride of just making it to the finish line. Others want to improve upon their previous times, and to challenge themselves, their friends, their teammates. And some ride to win if the front riders can race.
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