“Thank you all so much for coming.” Levi Leipheimer said to the riders assembled at the start of the Levi’s King Ridge GranFondo just before 8am on Saturday morning.
In its third year, the charity event that takes place on some of Leipheimer’s favorite training routes was bigger than ever with 7500 riders registered for one of the three rides available, all starting and ending at the same spot in Santa Rosa. The longest and toughest route, the 103-mile Gran Route, included the climb up King Ridge Road followed by tricky descents and the rolling profiles of the coastal roads to Coleman Valley Road, for a total of 9000 feet of climbing – the cost $135. The 65-mile Medio Route included the steep climb from the coast over Coleman Valley Road for 3,500 feet of climbing with a cost of $115. The 32-mile Piccolo route stayed in the County’s fertile valley floors for a cost of $75. All routes included at least one rest stop and had full support.
Beneficiaries for the event include VeloStreet’s Cycling Initiatives Program, Forget Me Not Farm, Community Giving and Livestrong. Last year, the event raised over $175,000 for community charities, schools, and fire departments
“This event means so much for me personally, so much for our community, you’ve done amazing amazing things, you’ve helped us do amazing things for Sonoma County and I hope that everybody has a great time. Please be safe, come back next year and enjoy the day. This is the best day of the year for all of us.” Leipheimer added.
Though not a race, the event is timed. The fastest men on the Gran Route was retired pro Neil Shirley and Alison Starnes (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12) was the fastest woman.
A lot more photos – as in 3500+ – will be posted on the official GranFondo gallery this week.