Monday, July 25, 2011

Ain't Cycling Gran?

Excuse the poor English in the title, but I couldn't help it. It only seemed too fitting for an event that's about to get underway this weekend--and one that I already wrote about once for this month's Chicago Athlete magazine. So when it came time to share the event's details for interested parties outside Chicago Athlete's distribution area but within a day's drive of the event's HQ, I had to reinvent the wheel. Or try.

Cycling. Gran Fondo. Wisconsin. Robbie Ventura. Vision Quest Coaching. Whether you have yet to get quality riding on your calendar for this summer--and you're watching it quickly slip away--or you've been putting pedal to the medal since the ground thawed, you'll want to consider putting these five keyword phrases together on July 31. Cycling can't get more grand than at Robbie Ventura's Gran Fondo, a race, rec ride, spin, loop--whatever you want to call it depending on how fast and how hard you want to ride it--through Wisconsin's challenging terrain. Why do you want to do this race? Check out these reasons:
  • You're training for Ironman Wisconsin. You'll get a sampling of its course and terrain by riding the 22.9-mile loop of the Gran Fondo. And if you go for speed you'll get to practice cornering, passing, ascending and descending--all skills you'll need race day.
  • The Gran Fondo can be as long, or as short, as you want it to be. You can ride the course's loop up to five times, and the more you ride it, plus your time, will be factored into winning prizes.
  • This Vision Quest event has Robbie Ventura's name written all over it. Ventura helped design the bike course that would have been part of the 2016 Olympics had the selection committee chosen Chicago, and the Gran Fondo occurs on part of that terrain. Ventura will be back from commentating at the Tour de France so you can hear his Tour stories and ride with him. Fun!
  • Where in Chicago can you ride like this? Nowhere, unless they shut down half of Lake Shore Drive for the Chicago Triathlon and even then you'll have your passing cut out for you.
  • Post-ride party. A day in Wisconsin wouldn't be complete without some brats and beer, likely finds after your legs have turned to Jell-O on the ride.
  • You won't have to stay overnight if you don't want to, at least if you're coming from Chicago. The ride starts at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 31, 30 minutes later than the other VQ rides held on Ironman Wisconsin course. Blue Mounds State Park, the start zone, isn't much past Verona so it's totally doable to rise early to make the drive up.
  • Your registration fee ($125) helps fund Parkinson's research. Not to go all personal on you, but my grandpa had Parkinson's so my eyes light up when events benefit an organization like the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
Want to learn more about this Gran Fondo, one of the few taking place in the Midwest? You can find all the details and more--like its Italian origins--at With the Steelhead 70.3 and Chicago's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon pushed back 2 weeks, you'll want to be riding on Sunday. Who wants to join me? That is, if I can kick my legs in gear to tackle those rollers after not riding for two weeks.


  1. I'm hoping to participate in the Grand Fondo in BC next year since I was too late to register this year. I'm so excited but a little scared because the hills are scary!

  2. Hi ko0ty--
    When is BC's Grand Fondo? Would love to learn more about it. I know exactly what you mean about the hills, they scare me too although I'm sure the BC ones are worse than they are in the Midwest. I've been in the Canadian Rockies all week, seeing lots of people riding Hwy. 93 by bike, and am beyond impressed!

    kate :)



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