New York Gran Fondo Eliminates ‘Medio’ Ride

The third annual Gran Fondo of New York has decided to eliminate the medium-distance ride from its mass ride

Riders in the 2012 Gran Fondo New York as they stopped in Edgewater, NJ

up the Hudson River Valley in 2013.

In an email to next year’s would-be participants, the organizers wrote,”What happened to the Medio?”–referring to the option to ride 66 miles. Well, it’s gone.

Only the distance of 110 miles will be available for the May 19, 2013 event, but riders will have the option of dropping out or taking shorter routes if they wish, wrote the organizers Uli and Lidia Fluhme.

A notice on the email suggests that logistics were the reason why the more forgiving distance was eliminated:

The Medio Fondo was designed as an untimed ride for less experienced riders who wanted to get a taste of GFNY. However, a few participants decided to “race” it which put a logistical strain on the whole event. As a result, we are no longer able to offer the Medio Fondo.Instead, the Gran Fondo will have several time cutoffs along the route and any cyclists who are unable to make the cutoffs, will be routed along alternate routes to get to the finish line covering fewer miles. So you can still do a shorter distance at a slower pace, but we make sure that anyone who is fit and fast enough to ride 110 miles doesn’t opt to race a non-competitive, medio fondo distance.

No more information is provided about how the husband and wife team, came up with their decision to cancel the more forgiving ride.

But last year, the shorter distance was less expensive than the longer distance. Therefore anyone opting to ride fewer miles in 2013, and without racing, will have to pay the $220 pricetag of the 110-mile race.

The tradition of Gran Fondos began in Italy, which is where the Gran Fondo New York organizers first learned of them, bringing them back to New York and New Jersey.

The event had more than doubled last year to almost 5,000 participants, many of them from outside the United States.

Some of the biggest participants are Italians, who though some not speaking a word of English, love coming to New York to ride the Fondo and tour the area later. We interviewed a few of them in 2011.

Next year’s New York Gran Fondo will be priced at $220 until October 1st, four days from now–when there will be price rise.

Gran Fondos in Italy are generally priced much lower, from about 20 to 40 Euros, or $30 to $60, and have a very democratic, loose appeal–akin to a big bike ride.

A testimony to the popularity of the ride, and how many people it attracted, the Gran Fondo 2012 jersey is seen

Cyclists from Monclair, NJ gathered for a Gran Fondo group shot in 2012

on cyclists all over Route 9W on a regular basis.

The largely successful ride in 2012 however had some logistical issues when riders reported not being able to get to port-o-potties or to food and water except through long lines at some of the rest stops. Signage and volunteer participation may also have been lacking.

This year two mid-level cyclists who came in first in their category tested posted for banned substances. David Anthony of New York City admitted  to having used the drug to enhance his performance. And Gabriele Guarini from Prato, Italy accepted the positive EPO results of his A sample.

Gran Fondos have become all the rage in the U.S., and after seeing the success of the New York version, organizers have been rushing to create their own events.

Because U.S. based pricing for the events are so high, fondos with 1,000 participants stand to gross from $150,000 to $250,000, and events with 5,000 participants can gross over $1 million, making them highly attractive to organizers.

In New York, the Fluhme’s rely heavily on local police forces and the NYNJ Port Authority for access and traffic direction, all of whom are paid overtime fees.

The USA racing organization, U.S. Cycling Federation, must also be paid for monitoring the race portion, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for post race drug testing.

Route for LevisGranFondo happening this Saturday in Santa Rosa, CA.

But those expenses still leave Gran Fondos one of the most profitable race/ event formats, with organizers earning between $100,000 and $500,000 per event.

Gran Fondo World, which is sponsored by Cannondale Bicycles, lists nine events worldwide, with five in the U.S. in such locations as Vail. Colorado, and Miami, Florida, and four in Europe, including one that includes a portion through Mont Ventoux in the South of France.

Their October 7 Gran Fondo Los Angeles was canceled, however.

There is also a New Jersey Gran Fondo run by Marty’s Reliable Bicycles, and that race had four distances, breve (brief), piccolo (small), medio (medium), and largo (long). But all four ride lengths were the same price, $175, if you registered late. Registering early got you a discount for shorter races and all of the event lengths were discounted greater than 50% off the final price if you registered by January 31.

Levi Leipheimer will be hosting his own Gran Fondo on Sept. 29, a ride that is sold out in the Medio and Gran distances, with some room left in the “Piccolo” distance for $125, but you have to register on location.

The ride will start in Santa Rosa, CA., and will benefit several charities, including school support for the local communities that riders will cycle through. The event also features a festival and a feast with Mr. Leipheimer himself–also unfortunately sold out.

Gran Fondos have also become a way for bicycle companies and other advertisers to get more bang for their buck. The Gran Fondo World’s title sponsor is Cannondale, while LevisGranFondo is sponsored by RadioShack.

 

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