A celebration of cycling to roll into Palo Alto

Palo Alto Gran Fondo set for Sept. 16

On the list of things the Palo Alto community enjoys, bicycling and food are right at the top, and the Italian-inspired Gran Fondo bike ride and festival is bringing them together in a celebration of cycling and food Sept. 16 in front of City Hall.

Italian professional cyclist Michele Scarponi will headline this year's Gran Fondo (Italian for "big ride"), which features courses of 30 miles, 75 miles and 95 miles.

The two longer courses take riders over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean before looping back to Palo Alto. Elevation changes of thousands of feet will challenge riders.

Participants not looking to spend hours on a bike seat can take part in the Echelon Challenge, a 0.6-mile loop around downtown Palo Alto for walkers, joggers and cruiser bikes.

Hunter Ziesing, executive director of Echelon, the San Francisco-based nonprofit hosting the event, was encouraged by the turnout last year -- the Gran Fondo's first year -- and is hoping for even more riders this September.

"We had about 600 or 700 (participants) last year," Ziesing said. "And we are expecting between 800 and 1,200 this year."

More than 40 charities will benefit from fundraising by Gran Fondo and Echelon Challenge participants.

"The number of charities has gone from 17 to over 40," Ziesing said.

"About 70 percent of those charities are local," he said, referring to the Bay Area nonprofits.

The entrance fee for fundraising teams is $5 for the Echelon Challenge event and $50 for the Gran Fondo. Echelon Challenge teams are required to raise an additional $100 for their charity of choice, and Gran Fondo teams are likewise required to raise $250.

After completing the 95-mile Gran Fondo course, or the 0.6-mile Challenge course, hungry participants can converge on a post-race food-and-drink festival. The event will offer a sampling of dishes from local restaurants, including The Flea Market and New Leaf Market, along with a selection of cheeses from Pescadero's Harley Farms.

"I really want to get the people of Palo Alto who are health minded to come out and have a good time," Ziesing said.

More information on the event can be found at


Like this comment
Posted by sounds fun
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2012 at 11:04 am

This sounds like a fun event. What is the entry fee for individuals or families? Our kids would love to try to bicycle out to the ocean and back, but we are not competitive athletes.

Like this comment
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

@sounds fun:

Click on the link to the Echelon Gran Fondo website. The registration pricing is there. No family pricing is offered.

Like this comment
Posted by chuck
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I didn't see when the event started, and I guess it begins at PA City Hall?

I wonder if some of the streets will be blocked off and police will be needed for control. If the latter, who pays them?

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Altered
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hmmm... The 95 mile race or the 0.6 mile race? Decisions decisions....

Like this comment
Posted by John Baum
a resident of Triple El
on Sep 16, 2012 at 7:28 am

The map shows a Sunday ride including a short loop through Palo Alto.

1) It runs through the pedestrian underpass connecting California Avenue beneath Alma Street and the railroad tracks.

2) This underpass is frequently unsafe because of cyclists who either cannot read or ignore the sign instructing them to walk their bikes.

3) It runs down California Avenue which is closed to traffic because of a long standing Farmer's Market on Sundays.

4) The Farmer's Market increases pedestrian traffic in the underpass.

At a minimum, the Palo Alto Police Department needs to post an officer at the underpass to keep a semblance of order.

I can only observe that it is a shame the planners of events like this do not take the time to inform themselves about other, long established events their plans my conflict with. Are the plans approved by Palo Alto officials? Do they know our town?

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2012 at 8:00 am

The police warning does not mention the tunnel Web Link

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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