Along for the ride
Italian cycling festival Gran Fondo makes American debut in Pasadena
By Sara Cardine 07/12/2012
On July 21 and 22, for the first time this side of the Atlantic, long-distance cyclists will have the opportunity to take part in a century-old Italian cycling tradition, as the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia makes its American debut on the streets of Pasadena.
Along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia (The Giro) is the Italian jewel in the European cycling equivalent of the Triple Crown. While that annual race is a timed competition, a Gran Fondo is traditionally a mass-participation cycling event that winds through scenic countrysides, attracting professional and amateur cyclists alike to partake in a three-week celebration of Italian culture, food and craftsmanship.
In the sprit of a Gran Fondo, the Pasadena ride is open to riders of all skill levels and is not a timed competition. Cyclists can choose from three scenic courses of varying length — 29, 64 or 82 miles — which will begin and end at Pasadena City Hall but take turns through parts of historic Old Pasadena as well as surrounding foothill and mountain communities.
Why choose Pasadena as the premier American city to host the ride? Mayor Bill Bogaard, speaking at a June 26 press conference for the event, said it might have something to do with Pasadena’s designation as the most bike-friendly city in Los Angeles County. Along with 50 miles of bike routes and more than 1,000 bike parking spaces in local garages, churches, parks and on buses, Pasadena also participates annually in a citywide recognition of Bike Week in May.
“I couldn’t be more proud or convinced Pasadena is the right city to host this event,” said Bogaard, himself an avid cycler. “With our city’s passion for cycling and the spirit of Italy filling our streets, I know the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia will be a big success.”
Also in attendance at the conference was LA’s Consul General of Italy, Giuseppe Perrone, and Carlo Bocchi, director of the Italian Trade Commission in Los Angeles.
In addition to the riding will be a two-day expo, billed by organizers as a showcase of all things “Made in Italy.”
“On Sunday, after the big ride, that’s where the real fun begins,” Perrone said.
The registration deadline for cyclists is July 18. Registration and detailed information is available at granfondogiroditalia.com.