Freeman Cebu Sports

Gran Fondo

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente 'JV' Araneta - The Freeman

Gran Fondo’s ar a type of road cycling that means, “Big Ride”. Originating in Italy back in the 1970’s, it has gained popularity all over the world.

But why have not heard of it? Well, the event is a little bit confusing since some describe it as a race while some fondo’s are considered as long rides. The Italian Cycling Federation defines a GF as a bicycle event at least 120 kilometres in length and riders are given timing chips with prizes given to the fastest riders in each category.

In Italy, GF’s are certified by the Italian Cycling Federation and in some Fondos, road closures are part of the event. At the end of the GF, Large meals are served to the riders.

So why am I talking about the GF? This weekend, the first popular GF, the Gran Fondo New York, will staged in Bohol. The GFNY, imo, is the equivalent of the IRONMAN 70.3. Some company probably brought the rights to bring the event here, to present a race that is world class in terms of organization. Of course, just like the IM, registration to the GFNY is not cheap but I think that if you want to experience bicycle racing at its best, then this is the race to be.

While the definition of a GF is at least 120km, the GFNY Philippines has two options- a 140km and a 66km route. The former is defined as a race while the latter is defined as a “ride”. While I am registered fir the “ride”, I don’t know how long the ride will turn into a race, especially with lots of competitive riders joining the event.

There are plenty of GFNY all over the world but the first GFNY was started in 2011. I have read somewhere that next year, the GFNY Philippines will be held in Cebu. The original date was supposed to be January 20, but it fell on the same date with the Sinulog so it was a good idea that it was moved to the following weekend.

There are a lots of GF in the country- The PruRide GF, Sagada GF, Fondo Manila, Gran Fondo Baler, to name the more prominent ones. Some of the local GF, which is more of a ride than a race, can sometimes reach 400km and at least two days and that’s the reason why I think that not a lot of cyclist has been bitten by the GF bug because it’s not only time consuming, it’s also expensive. Expensive because of the logistics involved. You also need to take a leave of absence from work and of course find time to train for such a very difficult event.

With the success of these GF’s, I think it wouldn’t be long before the Tour de France will franchise their event and bring it all over the world.

I think it will happen, believe me sooner than you think.


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