One way to stay fit and motivated over the winter months is to set a target event for the following season. With countless Gran Fondos of varying degrees of difficulty and length, it’s never been easier to get involved. Competing in Gran Fondos is an inclusive way to set firm goals for your cycling season. In this post we take you through choosing an event before we list our top 6 picks.
Gran Fondos come in all shapes and sizes. Some are long and mountainous, while others are flat and scenic. Some are a full on race from the gun, while others are a chance to roll along through idyllic countryside.
Whatever your goals, whether weight loss, general fitness or winning races, you can always find the event for you.
LOCAL SPORTIVES OR A MAJOR GRAN FONDO?
Most cycling clubs run their own sportives during the season. These events cater for all and include a mixture of distances and terrains for cyclists of all abilities.
However, for the more adventurous, there are some events that attract a crowd year after year. With an almost tribal following, thousands turn up at such events each year to punish themselves on the slopes of mountains doused in grand tour history.
For many in attendance it will be the culmination of many months of training as they tackle the main focus for the season. If you feel like setting yourself a major challenge, then here is our pick of the top 6 Gran Fondos to aim for.
PREPARING FOR A GRAN FONDO
Between training, nutrition, and bike maintenance, there’s a lot to think about in the months leading up to your event.
The training you do is dependent on the nature of the event. Tacx software solutions provides you with a myriad of options to help you prepare. Whether your event consists of tough mountain passes or meandering country roads, between our high-quality films, 3D map rides or structured training plans, you’ll find the right plan for you.
In the final weeks leading up to that big event, it’s important to taper correctly. You’ll want to arrive at the event, fresh but sharp. Ensure you stay primed by doing some high-intensity intervals while cutting back on the overall hours spent training. If you decide to use gels and other supplements during your event, introduce them to your body slowly in the lead-up. This will give it time to adapt. The last thing you want on the big day is stomach problems.
We’ve published an entire post on what to do in the weeks leading up to a big event. By forming a plan around how you manage your nutrition, your form vs fatigue, clothing and bike maintenance, you help ensure your chances of a successful outing.
THE 6 GRANDEST GRAN FONDOS
1. GRAN FONDO QUEBRANTAHUESOS
It’s Spain’s most popular sportive, and it translates as the ‘Bone Breaker’. Take one look at the profile and you’ll know why. The main event, at 200km long usually incorporates several Cat 1 or HC climbs meaning it’s not an event for the faint of heart.
Taking place in the height of summer in the Pyrenean region, it’s usually a long hot day in the saddle. Places are limited each year, so apply early if you choose to make this one your season’s goal.
2. TOUR DE YORKSHIRE RIDE
One of the most popular sportives in the UK, the Tour de Yorkshire Ride takes in 120km of lumpy, punishing terrain. Taking place in early May each year, it replicates the stage the pros take on in the actual race.
The steep climbs you encounter in this part of the world may surprise you. But set at a manageable distance with shorter options available, the Tour de Yorkshire Ride is a great option for cyclists of all levels.
3. STELVIO SANTINI
Giro fans will no doubt be familiar with two of the main climbs featured on this Gran Fondo each year. The Mortirolo and Stelvio are two of the most unforgiving climbs in world cycling. Across challenging but truly stunning terrain, and with three distances to choose from, it’s a serious mountain challenge for all levels.
With such epic climbs on the route, it’s all the motivation you need. Ensure you pack in some sweet spot training if you want to tap out a solid rhythm on those alpine climbs!
4. MALLORCA 312
For those with a strong base from the winter miles on the smart trainer, the Mallorca 312 might be an attractive early-season target. At 312km, and with 5,000m of climbing, only the best-prepared can enjoy it. Some shorter routes of 225km and 167km exist for those not quite prepared for a 9-hour day. However, they all still remain punishingly long routes.
5. MARMOTTE ALPS
The Glandon, Télégraphe, Galibier and Alpe d’Huez – 4 iconic Tour climbs that every cyclist one day dreams of riding. At 174km and with 5000m of climbing, the Marmotte Alps provides even the best-prepared with the challenge of a lifetime.
Two additional routes exist at 98km and 76km, but you’ll still want to bring your climbing shoes for those. To prepare effectively for this one, take a look at our guide on preparing for the mountains on an indoor trainer.
6. MARATONA DLES DOLOMITES
By the time the first week of July rolls around you’ll want to ensure you’ve shed any extra pounds. With 4,200m of climbing in only 138km, this is one for the natural climbers. Shorter routes of 106km and 55km also exist, but there’s still serious climbing to be done.
The jagged nature of the course means there is a lot of up and down. There are periods of long, hard riding that are interspersed with periods of easy coasting. Following a structured program is one way to arrive in top condition. Those with a strong base who have abundant sweet spot and intense interval training completed will thrive in this event.
GOALS – THE ULTIMATE ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
Gran Fondos are a wonderfully inclusive way to meet your cycling goals. The sheer variety available mean that there’s something for everyone. With epic climbs, stunning scenery and routes for all levels, it’s all the motivation you need to start training early!