In cycling you have many types or riders, from ‘good weather’ cyclists, who like to end the ride with a beer in the sun, Strava segment chasers who go for KOM’s all the way to the licence holders that battle it out on crits and classics. Usually these type of riders won’t ride together as they all have their own preferred training rides, but there is a place nowadays where they do meet: in Gran Fondos.
A small history lesson
So what is this Gran Fondo thing that you hear people talk about now during their coffee stops? Let’s have a small history lesson with the help of our friends of Wikipedia:
“A Gran Fondo is a type of long-distance road cycling ride originating in Italy in 1970, and roughly translates into English as “Big Ride”. Italian Gran Fondos are officially defined and certified by the Italian Cycling Federation as a bicycle event at least 120 kilometres (75 mi) long, and are individually chip-timed (start to finish) races with prizes for the fastest riders in each category. The starts are done en masse, and the format allows for riders of every level to participate, much like a marathon, where most participants are competing against the clock instead of other participants. Traditionally a large meal is served to the participants at the end of the event, and roads are shut down.
The first few Gran Fondo events in the United States were organized in 2009, and as of 2017 there were over 200 events in North America. There is no official authority to certify US Grand Fondos. As a result, they come in many different varieties with some adhering very strictly to the traditional definition (often going as far as to have a full road closure), and others treating it more like a century ride where riders only compete in short timed sections and enjoy a large elaborate banquet at the finish.”
So there you have it, it’s like the marathon of cycling. Where the first riders will go all out for the victory, while others take their time for a lunch stop and enjoy the day riding with their friends.
Gran Fondo’s in Colombia
By now, the trend of Gran Fondo’s has reached Colombia as well, with more and more profesionally organized events. Colombia always has been a cycling crazy country, the sport might not be the biggest sport (soccer) but for sure is the most popular sport deeply rooted in the culture of the country. If we look back in history, it was Bogota as the first major city in the world to close streets on Sunday for cyclists to exercise safely. So it was only a matter of time for the Gran Fondo’s to make their way into the cycling culture.
At the moment of writing, the biggest Gran Fondo’s in Colombia are La Ruta, GFNY and L’Etape. At the start line you can find between 3000 to 5000 participants of all ages and locations. Besides offering the full Gran Fondo (130+ kilometers) they usually also offer media fondo’s (+/-100km) or even shorter distances. But all of them have one thing in common, MOUNTAINS!
As they say in Colombia, “it either goes up or it goes down”. The GFNY in Colombia will be held around Bogota, where the mountains tops reach well over 3300 meters, and will take the riders to freezing Páramo heights. Their slogan for the event for that reason is “Challenge your suffer score in the land of the best climbers of the world”. Another great but smaller Gran Fondo is the one in Boyacá, the GF Boyacá mundial. This race will take you over the same course used in the 1995 world championships, won by Spaniard Abraham Olano.
Prepare like a Pro
So now that you know a thing or two about Gran fondo’s in Colombia, let’s talk how we can help you have the ride of your life! With our Gran Fondo training camps we will prepare you in the best possible way for the event. We will take care of your inscription for the event of choice, so you can focus completely on the riding part. And when it comes down to riding, we will guide you through the region the week prior to the event to get you in the best possible shape.
Our training camps are developed in such a way that your body will first get used to the altitude before we start improving your climbing skills day by day. Depending on the Gran Fondo location, we will tour towards the start location, or in the case of Bogota and Medellin have different routes starting from the city. This way you will get to know the region and culture a bit more, while getting to peak fitness level. During the nights we will stay in the most amazing hotels, from resorts to boutique hotels to old colonial monasteries. After a tough day on the bike, we will fuel up the carbs and proteins with meals in high-class restaurants. You can’t get any closer to the life of a Pro cyclists this way, with the Gran Fondo as the final test to battle it out with the local heroes on the slopes of the legendary climbs of Colombia.
This Tour de France style Gran Fondo will take place in the city of eternal spring, Medellin. Being nestled in at 1800 meters between mountains, it is a great place to ride your bike. There are climbs everywhere you look, and the weather is always great. The Gran Fondo is 138 kilometers long with over 2700 meters of vertical climbing. To prepare you for the event, we will have a week of riding and getting used to the altitude. We will stay in a great resort/hotel and at night enjoy the high-class cuisine of the city.
Gran Fondo Boyaca Mundial
Boyaca is known as the heart of cycling culture in Colombia, because of the huge amount of professional cyclists coming from this region. Nairo Quintana, Lucho Herrera, Fabio Parra and Miguel Angel Lopez are just a few of them. The Gran Fondo Boyaca will be held in the same area as the World Championships of 1995, in Duitama, where Abraham Olano became world champion. The ride is 130k long and has more than 3300 meters of climbing! Before the race, we will discover the beauty of Boyaca, by visiting some of the most amazing colonial villages and boutique hotels.
La Ruta Gran Fondo Colombia
La Ruta is one of the most popular Gran Fondo’s of Colombia, and has already been held in Cartagena, Bogota and Medellin. For this year, the race will be held around Cali. It’s the longest of all, with 190 kilometers of cycling, but the amount of climbing is limited to 1500 meters of vertical climbing. To prepare you for this ride, we can take you on a nice tour from the capital to Cali, so you can see a bit more of the country. We will climb over multiple Andes branches, and reach beautiful valleys.
The Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) is a series of races over the whole world. For 2019, the race in Colombia is the official Latin American Championship. As they advertise themselves, it is the Gran Fondo with the highest mountain finish. Starting just outside of Bogota, the race will go over the famous La Cuchilla climb, reaching more than 3300 meters at the top. To prepare you for this Gran Fondo, we will have our altitude training camp around Bogota, with long climbs and high-altitude. The city is a great place to stay with high-class cuisine and hotels.
L’Etape Colombia: September 2th, 2018 – Medellin
Gran Fondo Boyaca: October 13th, 2018 – Duitama
La Ruta Colombia edition Cali: November 11th, 2018 – Cali
GFNY Colombia: March 24, 2018 – Bogota