Gran Fondo is an Italian term which loosely translates to “Big Ride”. Gran Fondo’s are mass participation cycling events that have enjoyed incredible popularity in Europe for decades and have become popular in North America, Asia, Australia and increasingly, worldwide. – GranFondoGuide.com
This past weekend, after meeting up with Little Rock Gran Fondo event organizer, Michael Chaffin at Shift Modern Cyclery, we decided to spend some time at the Little Rock Gran Fondo Start/Finish area. We’ve written about this event a few times and participated in the actual ride but this year, we opted for just enjoying the party…er…finish.
After a two-year hiatus due to pandemic concerns, the Little Rock Gran Fondo is back. This year the start/finish took place at the new state-of-the-art Ben E. Keith food distribution facility in North Little Rock. The ride started out with some overcast skies which cooled things down, in the beginning, making the wind the biggest obstacle to the mostly flat ride. Fondo riders have two choices in the distance, the Gran Fondo which is 70-75 miles, and Medio Fondo at about 40 miles. Aid stations on these routes are worth the stop for food and luxury.
Once at the finish, riders are treated to incredible foods prepared by the folks at Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Arvest Bank, as with many local events, is also a major sponsor, providing financial support and volunteers. Refreshing beverages were supplied by Lost Forty Brewing.
Besides the food, live music was supplied by Bonnie Montgomery, a staple at the Gran Fondo since the beginning. She performed with guitarist Greg Spradlin and bassist Brent LaBeau (I may be a little biased but I think the whole event should be opened up to those just wanting to come for the music and food.)
With all of the great hospitality of this event, I heard it said, “If you’re racing the Fondo, you’re missing the point.” I couldn’t agree more. Make sure you get signed up next year and take the time to enjoy the festivities.
You can read more about the Little Rock Gran Fondo in some of our articles from previous years.
Little Rock Gran Fondo 2022