How about this for a novel fondo idea…build your own gran fondo with friends and a little promoter help?

Just gather a group of cycling friends you trust to be healthy and following good social distancing guidelines, agree on a start time, register and then have some gran fondo fun riding together on fully supported gran fondo route including course markings, mechanical support, aid stations, finisher medals, lunch and awards?

For us it seems like a safe smart new normal way to run a gran fondo during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is what the creative folks at Cache Gran Fondo in the USA are trying after their 11 July UCI Gran Fondo World Championship qualifying race was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Their new build your own fondo with friends ride model allows groups of 40 riders to start every 15-minutes over a 2-day period with riders building their own “pods” of 40 riders and choosing a start time.

Announcing the novel fondo format via email, organizer Troy Oldham wrote, “Our agreed format [with Utah Department of Health] is to have an open event over two days, and allow riders to schedule their own start time anytime between Friday from 5:30 am and Saturday to 9:30am. Riders will leave in groups of no more than 40 riders, and ALL recreational distances will be open; 35, 50, 75 and 100 miles.”

The idea seems popular with Cache Gran Fondo riders as many starting time slots for the 11-12 July event are already sold out.

Maybe Oldham is on to something here, a gran fondo model that balances safety and competitive fun during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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