Gearing Up for Gran Fondo Saturday June 29th
Whether you’re riding to condition for a 2013 World Record attempt like national cycling sensation, Chris Gottwald, or taking the family out for a Euro-style leisure ride and epicurean wander, Team Priority Health & Athletic Mentors staff will be there to ride or guide all comers to Grand Rapid’s inaugural Gran Fondo next Saturday, June 29th.
Gran Fondo means “big ride” and for Michigan, it’s a big deal. Proceeds of the ride benefit skin cancer research at MSU. The event also shines the light on local breweries and Michigan-made food during the Gears for Beers Microwbrew & Music Festival. It promises to be a perennial favorite for its high-fun-quotient and low entry bar, with a 12 mile “family ride,” a medium 40-mile course, or an 80 mile race/ride to Lake Michigan.
For Team Priority Health Elite Team Captain Chris Gottwald, it’s a chance to ride for fun and a bit of conditioning before attempting a world speed record July 5th at the Indianapolis Velodrome for 100-mile timed trials. Gottwald put Michigan on the worldwide cycling map with his 3,000-mile Race Across America “Cyclist of the Year” title, and most recently led the PH Elite team to total victory in West Branch. No stranger to the podium since his early days on the Purdue cycling team and owner of his 3rd consecutive King of the Mountain title, the 42-year-old pilot calls his imminent effort his “first attempt” at the World Record, which will benefit the global water crisis through an organization called Active Water.
“What I really want is for people to be inspired. If I can do this, so can they. I’m just the guy next door…What motivates me is how lives can be impacted. Every 15 seconds a child dies somewhere in the world because they don’t have clean drinking water. So it’s really not so hard to drill it for four hours and 480 laps in a velodrome by comparison,” Gottwald said of the record attempt. (To donate or learn more, follow this link.)
By comparison, the Gran Fondo will be downright fun. Gottwald is hoping his 11-year-old daughter, Gigi, rides the 12 mile, and plans to kibbutz with fellow cyclists and newcomers to the sport.
“It’s an outstanding opportunity to experience the joys of riding and the great sense of satisfaction you get raising money and awareness for a good cause. That’s what kept me going in the Race Across America, and that what makes the Gran Fondo a “don’t miss” event,” said Gottwald.
Athletic Mentors co-founder and multisport coach, Cheryl Olson, manages Team Priority Health and recently ran a clinic to help registrants get ready to ride.
“The best part about Gran Fondo is that there is a course for every level of participant, right down to a casual family 12-mile ride,” says Olson. She credits the mass-participation and recreational nature of the Gran Fondo as causing the burgeoning popularity of the format. Grand Fondos events are springing up worldwide.
“Priority Health chose to be a title sponsor not only because of the very worthy cause, but because it gives the whole family the opportunity to get active and create a starting point for healthy living.”
Olson says the free registration for children under 12 and the European flavor of the family-oriented portion of the ride are great ways to introduce young people to endurance sports, a goal close to the hearts of her athletes and their community outreach efforts.
“Everyone should experience the camaraderie and exhilaration of a great ride. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day,” she said. “If we want our kids off the couch, we have to show them the way!”
Fast Facts About the Gran Fondo
‚Ä¢ 12 Mile family ride
‚Ä¢ 40 Mile ride
‚Ä¢ 80 Mile ride
8:00 a.m. ‚Äì Start for the 40-mile and 80-mile rides
9:30 a.m. ‚Äì Start for the 12-mile family ride
Afternoon ‚Äì After Sparty at the B.O.B. ‚Äì Gears for Beers with Michigan microbrews and wine sampling, amazing street food stations and great live music
Afternoon ‚Äì Herman Miller Brickyard Classic (nearby location)
Post event ‚Äì Electronic timing and ride results posted at www.msugranfondo.com
To Register, or Learn More: www.msugranfondo.com