Celebrate San Diego’s Gran Fondo by Competing, Volunteering or Cheering

For details on how to volunteer for the Gran Fondo which will support our own efforts see the bottom of this post or sign up here and add “BikeSD” in the comment section.

When we state that we’re advocating to transform San Diego to be a world class bicycling city a lot of our focus has definitely been on the transportation component of bicycling – riding to work, to the market and elsewhere. You may think of Amsterdam or Copenhagen as being world class cities and we certainly we aspire to these cities’ standards. However, we intend to exceed the standards set by these European cities and carve out our own niche and part of that includes celebrating and promoting an asset that we already have: our incredible cycling athletes.

That’s a lot of people on bikes! Photo: Campagnolo GranFondo San Diego

Next Sunday, the annual San Diego Gran Fondo will pit some of the strongest and most capable riders against one another while they traverse a challenging course along much of the beauty that the San Diego region has to offer: the bay, a handful of lakes, mountains and a stunning countryside. The party on wheels that is the Gran Fondo is an Italian tradition which often honor cycling legends and in Italy, where “[e]ntire towns shut down, wine flows, and thousands of riders pedal over classic mountain passes, through vineyards, and along famous race routes.” Organizers have registered over a thousand riders and are expecting more to sign up between now and Sunday morning prior to the start of the ride.

The classic Gran Fondo is a 105 mile ride with 5,000 feet to be climbed while the Piccolo is a mere 34 miles with 900 feet of climbing. 

Heidi Amundson and Richard La China – a couple that are not only strong athletes (La China is a KOM on probably all your strava feeds) but incredibly compassionate souls –  are both working hard to put on the Campagnolo sponsored Gran Fondo this year. The event will be a fundraiser for the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s® (CAF) Operation Rebound®  and they desperately need the volunteers to help make this event a success.

Amundson and La China need volunteers for the following areas (the first three on the list are most critical)

1. Course Marshalls – you will be equipped with a neon vest, whistle, and flag to alert riders to potentially dangerous hazards up ahead like railroad tracks, sharp turns and other issues. Contact Amundson at hmamundson@gmail.com to volunteer.

2. SAG Support – If you own a large vehicle and feel guilty about driving everyday, here is one day it can be of good use. Drivers are expected to drive the course pick up any rider that is tapped out for the day. Your vehicle must have a bike rack to carry bicycles. As a benefit you will receive a free entry to September’s Giro Di San Diego ride or you can instead opt to donate $50 to BikeSD. Contact Amundson at hmamundson@gmail.com to volunteer.

3. Catering the post-ride meal – help serve the food to the happy and hungry riders that finished the ride. As a benefit BikeSD will receive $10 donation for each person that signs up to volunteer to help serve a meal.

4.  Registration – for Saturday April, 13th.

As a benefit, in addition to garnering karma points, all volunteers get a limited edition Campagnolo Gran Fondo t-shirt, a meal, and an invitation to the staff and VIP post-party.

We asked Amundson why events like this matter. She responded that events like this promote everyday riding.  She went on to elaborate that “fun events can rejuvenate people’s love of riding for both those that are participating in the ride and those that observe the spectacle of 2,000 cyclists blasting by.” She described how she became a “cycling junkie” after looking at photos online of the Rosarito/Ensenada 50 mile ride. Despite only having ridden 5 miles at a stretch, she signed up and rode her 35 pound 1980s GT bicycle from Rosarito to Ensenada and found it to be strenuous – but she became hooked, returned hom and purchased a commuter bicycle and began riding every day to both work and school. She says, “It is now my preferred mode of transportation.”

Amundson says that the “more people love cycling, the more they will ride,” and learn about the issues we’re advocating for with all our elected representatives. We’re more than happy to help support Amundson and La China in their efforts and hope you will to.

To register for the ride, to help out by volunteering or if you’d to simply like to show up and cheer and celebrate the hardworking and hard riding folks that you see out and about training all year long mark the date: April 14th. The finish line will be at the north side of The San Diego County Administration Building near the Star of India ship, 1600 Pacific Highway.