What is a Gran Fondo?
A Gran Fondo is an amazing mix of the best aspects of each: a long-distance bicycle group ride, a race and festival! Often hosted by a professional cyclist or patron, the premiere routes are celebrated for their heritage, difficulty or scenery, if not for their use also as a professional race course. The events are timed, and participants can race the clock or simply challenge themselves to complete the course within the designated cutoff. Along the course, riders receive well-staffed support similar to a road race: course marshals, volunteers, signage, lead and sag vehicles and mechanical assistance. Unlike a race, rest stations along the route welcome and encourage riders to linger and enjoy food and drink. The festival is what sets these events apart from your average group ride. Communities come together to welcome riders, cheer them along the route and enjoy the excitement of the event. At the finish line, participants celebrate their achievement, relax and enjoy the festivities together.

From Bicycling Magazine, "Once you set off on the rolling party known as a gran fondo, it will all make beautiful sense..."

What type of bike should I ride?
The Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, Shenandoah Mountain Medio and Valley View Piccolo routes all take place on road surfaces - participants will ride road cycling bikes.

How do I know if my bike is a "road" bike?
Road bikes have large wheels with smooth "skinny" tires and handle bars that typically curl downward - just like the bikes you see in the Tour de France. If you're not familiar enough with your bicycle to know this designation, it's likely that you're not quite ready for the 95 and 70-mile routes just yet. However, if you're an enthusiast who frequently rides a hybrid, touring or tandem bicycle, the Valley View Piccolo route might be just the challenge you're looking for!

I heard there is dirt on the Alpine Loop?
You heard right! In total there are about 10 miles of dirt road on the Alpine Loop, all but nearly 1 mile of which being uphill. A 'cross bike is not needed, road bikes are appropriate. That being said, it is advisable to leave your light weight race tires at home. Flat-resistant 25c or 26c tires are strongly recommended.

Are the hills steep?
That, they are. Easy gearing is a must for the Alpine Loop. A compact, triple or a very large cassette will do the trick.

Still wondering how to prepare?
Jeremiah checks in with tips on how to prepare for your great adventure!

How many rest stations are there?
Let's break this down by route.
Valley View Piccolo (30-mile) route: there is a full rest station located at mile 17.
Shenadoah Mountain Medio (70-mile) route: at miles 30, 40 and 58.
Alpine Loop Gran Fondo (104-mike) route: at miles 30, 40 and 78.
(Additional 2012 stations TBA)

Are there time cutoffs?

Yes, to better ensure the safety of participants, volunteers and the communities along the routes, time limits of very reasonable amounts will be upheld. Exact milestones will be updated shortly. Any riders who are unable to achieve the time limits will be given the choice to join a different route, shuttle to the next aid station or directly to the finish line - depending on the circumstances and location.

So, it's not a race, but there are King (and Queen) of the Mountains prizes?

Yes! Since there is always some competitive nature to a group ride, we're hosting KOM competitions among the Medio and Gran Fondo routes. It's a friendly way to compete within the ride, and test yourself against an unyielding competitor - the mountain! Apart from the KOM throw down (should you choose to), we hope you'll enjoy the camaraderie of riding alongside friends and fellow cyclists, and find little incentive to push your limits on the downhills. In fact, in the spirit of safety, such nonsense will be strongly discouraged.

Are there prizes or medals?
All finishers arriving ahead of the time cut will receive a special European-style commemorative token (surprise for 2012!). For Alpine and Medio routes the finish line deadline 5:30 p.m. (on-course cuts will be posted shortly). If you want the gold, you have to aim for the Alpine Loop! But, sometimes it's the rider who bravely rides on instead of dropping out who deserves the prize. And that's why we have something special in store for the final Alpine and Medio finishers to cross the line before the time cut!

What about registration? Is it open? Are there field limits? Can I register on site?
The link at the top of this page will take you to the online event registration home page for the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. Registration is based on first come, first serve until the field limits have been reached. Onsite registration will be available if the field limits have not been reached.

All participants will be required to check in, confirm registration and sign an event waiver.

Where is registration check-in at the event?
On Friday, September 14, check-in will be hosted at the Shenandoah Bicycle Company, 4:00 - 9 p.m, 135 South Main Street, Downtown Harrisonburg. On Saturday, September 15, check-in will take place at the Greenspace adjacent the Turner Pavilion in Downtown Harrisonburg.


Where can I park?
For participants picking up registration on Friday and/or attending the Bike Capital Gala, parking is available BEHIND Shenandoah Bicycle Company in the municipal parking deck located at 51 West Water Street (Google Mapping directions to this destination works with the one way street!)

Please note: there will be NO event-day parking allowed in the municipal parking lot adjacent to the Turner Pavilion - this parking is reserved for Farmers Market patrons until 1:30 p.m. Free all day (10-hour) parking is available directly across from 150 East Wolfe Street in the municipal parking deck. All of Downtown Harrisonburg is easily accessed by bike or by foot from this parking area. Similarly, free all day (10-hour) parking is available adjacent to the finish line festival grounds and in the municipal parking deck located at 51 West Water Street. Both of these parking areas are convenient to the staging and start. Upon arriving in Downtown Harrisonburg, spectators should make their way directly to Main Street between Warren Street and Court Square. Ceremonies leading up to the parade start will promptly begin at 8:45 a.m, with riders staging on Warren Street adjacent to the registration site and Greenspace.

Will there be food at the finish line?
YES! There's going to be a full spread of food waiting for you at the finish line. Participants can look forward to hot apple cider and other drinks, fresh hot pizza from Chanello's of Harrisonburg, fruit, breads, locally made pies, crunchy and salty snacks, meats and cheese, and an incredible selection of European cookies just to name a few. You can play cornhole or just lie down in the sun. New for 2012 - there will be beer and bands! We'll be hosting FREE raffles for merchandise and gear, leading up to the KOM podium ceremony starting at 5:00. It will be a great time to kick back and relax!

Did these points answer your questions?
We hope so, but if you have any questions, please e-mail If you're still wondering, someone else is too. We'll keep updating this page accordingly.




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