Vermont is renown for its natural beauty, and country living life-style.  Of the long list of potential outdoor activities, cycling is a favorite. The combination of stunning scenery, clean air, lightly traveled roads, and challenging terrain attract cyclists from afar, and the October Country Inn has long been a home-away-from-home, and base of operations for many, many visiting cyclists. So when a special cycling event comes up, we think our cycling friends would like to know about it. Mark your schedules. The 2019 Vermont’s Gran Fondo is slated for June 29. Go online to vermontgranfondo.com for information and to register.

Gran Fondo is Italian for ‘big ride.’ Typically, Gran Fondo events are long distance, mass-participation cycling events—not races—that are immensely popular in Italy and the rest of Europe and are quickly becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Participation is open to cyclists of all abilities. While the Vermont Gran Fondo is not a race in the traditional sense, it goes well beyond the scope of most recreational or charity rides. In some ways, the Vermont Gran Fondo is similar to a 26-mile running marathon. Its a personal challenge. Rather than racing other participants, participants are challenging themselves in a battle against the course, and the distance.

The challenging nature of the Vermont Gran Fondo is due to a road course that crosses the Green Mountains at four different locations. Called “gaps,” these mountain passes all involve some serious climbing. The southernmost Brandon Gap is a category 2 climb with 1,178 feet of elevation gain in 3.2 miles with an average grade of 7%

Vermont Gran Fondo course.

and a maximum grade of 18%. Next to the north, the Middlebury Gap is a category 3 climb with 1,018 feet of elevation gain in 3.1 miles with an average grade of 6% and a maximum grade of 27%. Next to the north, the Lincoln Gap—distinguished by being the steepest continuous mile (20% to 24%) in the U.S.—is a category 2 climb with an elevation gain of 1,059 feet in 2.7 miles with an average grade of 15% and a maximum grade of 24%. The northernmost Appalachian Gap is a category 2 climb with 1,163 feet of elevation gain in 2.7 miles with an average grade of 8% and a maximum grade of 24%.

Pick the challenge that suits you from among the four course choices: The Gran Fondo course is 108 miles with 11,400 feet of climbing over the Appalachian Gap (west to east), Lincoln Gap (east to west), Appalachian Gap again (west to east), and the Middlebury Gap (east to west). The Medio Difficile course is 66 miles with 6,900 feet of climbing over the Appalachian and Lincoln Gaps. The Medio Facile course is 77 miles with 7,000 feet of climbing over the Appalachian and Middlebury Gaps. The Piccolo Fondo is 37 miles with 2,600 feet of climbing but no Gaps. The Vermont Gran Fondo is truly a challenge. Ride it if you can.