By Jim Rutberg
The 10th Annual Golden Gran Fondo is an end-of-summer celebration of road cycling on the Front Range. Starting under the iconic “Welcome to Golden” arch and concluding with a Finish Line Party and Beer Garden in Parfet Park, the event on August 28 features three scenic routes and doesn’t require a full-day trip into the mountains. If you’re still on the proverbial fence, here’s why you should put this event on your list.
Timed Climb up Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain is one of the most frequently ridden ascents on Colorado’s Front Range. Strava members alone have ridden the climb more than 309,000 times, and it was featured in the USA Pro Challenge and Colorado Classic races. All Golden Gran Fondo courses (20-, 63-, and 91-miles) include a chip-timed segment on Lookout Mountain. See how you stack up against the competition!
Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Peak to Peak Highway
Both the Gran (91 miles) and Medio (63 miles) routes incorporate the scenic and challenging climb of Mountain Base Road through Golden Gate Canyon State Park, as well a stretch of the iconic Peak to Peak Highway. Although these roads are normally open to cyclists, linking them together into epic loops can be difficult without support and aid stations.
Safe and Fun Timed Segment Competitions
If you are more familiar with traditional road and gravel races that determine a winner though start-to-finish timing, here are some things you should know about Gran Fondo National Series’ timed-segment format:
- You don’t need to be in the lead group to set the fastest times. Often, the leading groups are where the fastest riders are, but strategically, some riders and teams choose to contest the timed segments on their own. This also means a mechanical or flat tire that takes you out of the lead group doesn’t necessarily take you out of contention for victory.
- You can regroup between timed segments. In traditional road racing, dropped riders often stay dropped. In timed-segment racing, there’s no time penalty for slowing down and regrouping after the finish of a timed segment. Strategically, it may be advantageous to regroup and work together as you ride to the next segment. You can also stop at aid stations without worrying about losing time.
- You can ride with anyone. The Golden Gran Fondo features a mass-start. Men and women and riders across all age categories can work together at any point during the event. At most Gran Fondo National Series events, riders take advantage of this social opportunity to regroup with friends and teammates of varying speed and skill level.
$23 Entry Fee for Juniors and U23 Riders
To provide more opportunities for young riders to participate and compete, Gran Fondo National Series offers Junior and U23 entries for just $23. Juniors and U23 riders can redeem the $23 entries by using code U23@GFNS at registration (and yes, you adults… they’ll check to confirm your age).
Team Competition Category
In addition to podium awards for age group competitions across all routes, there is also a team competition! Bring your friends, club, or team to Golden Gran Fondo and the combined time for your top 3 riders counts toward the team category. And the more riders you bring, the greater your advantage, because bonus seconds are deducted from your team’s time for each team member who finishes.
Qualify for USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championship
Only cyclists who qualify may compete for the 2023 USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championships. Riders can qualify through results and/or participation in Suarez Gran Fondo National Series-owned events or partner events. The most common ways to qualify are by finishing in the top 25% of one age-group competition at a qualifier event or finishing two qualifier events. Additional ways to qualify are described on the Gran Fondo National Series website.
Awards, Finish Line Party, and Raffle Prizes
Gran Route age group champions each receive a custom winner’s cycling kit from SUAREZ Cycling Clothing. In addition, everyone who finishes the Gran Route of Golden Gran Fondo receives a finisher medal, and all riders receive a commemorative t-shirt.
The Parfet Park Finish Line Party and Beer Garden will form the backdrop for Golden Gran Fondo. A hot meal and cold beer from Oskar Blues will be awaiting all cyclists at the end of a great day on the bike.
Riders who stay until the end of the awards ceremony can win a share of more than $5000 in prizes from Series sponsors, including a trip to Italy with Garda Bike hotel, a Wahoo KICKR smart trainer or ELEMNT Rival GPS watch, components from Shimano, Cane Creek and Industry Nine, and much more.