Modeled after Italian Gran Fondo events, the Gran Fondo Moab is back this year to take riders from Swanny City Park to Castle Valley, the La Sal Mountains and Old City Park.
Scott Newton, co-owner of Poison Spider Bicycles, started the Gran Fondo Moab event in 2010. He was inspired after riding similar events in Italy with his wife, Karen Guzman-Newton.
Gran Fondo Moab begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, at Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West.
Ian Wheeler, a Poison Spider Bicycles employee, rode in the 2018 Gran Fondo Moab, placing eighth. “I think it’s cool — in a mountain bike-centric town, it shows that Moab is open to all variations of cycling,” he said. “It’s a fun event with people joining both from the community and the region.”
The Italian “Gran Fondo” roughly translates into English as “Big Ride.”
The 60-mile ride features 5,500-feet of elevation gain. A “King of the Mountain” and “Queen of the Mountain” are crowned based on fastest ascent to the Geyser Pass turn-off on La Sal Loop Road. Cyclists will also be timed at the finish line at Old City Park.
Finish line timing will end at 2 p.m. Riders finishing later receive a listed time of “6-plus hours.” There will be no registration on the day of the event, but spectating is encouraged along the route.
Record times for the entirety of the route are 2:41:43 in the men’s division and 3:12:45 in the women’s division. The course has stayed the same for every iteration of the event.
Two of the three aid stations along the route will be staffed by students on the Grand County High School Red Devils Mountain Biking Team. The mountain biking team is being compensated around $1,000 for its volunteer assistance; they are not recognized as an official sports team by the Grand County School District and they engage in a number of fundraising activities for support.
Grand County High School freshman Jacob Knight has volunteered at past Gran Fondo Moab events with the mountain biking team. He said that staffing the aid stations “wasn’t too hard; it was pretty fun.”
Knight is excited to see his coach, Tim Matthews, participating as a rider at Gran Fondo. Matthews placed second last year and is also an employee at Poison Spider Bicycles.
“It’s fun to see everyone compete,” Knight said. “It’s a pretty route that I personally want to ride someday.”
Like other Gran Fondo events, this ride is not meant to be extremely competitive. The 22 mile descent following the Geyser Pass turn-off can be dangerous. The roads will not be closed to traffic, except for the 2 miles from Swanny City Park to the Colorado River.
Gran Fondo Moab attracts riders mostly regionally from Colorado and the Salt Lake City metro area, but also does attract visitors from Canada.
Newton said that 300 people had signed up for this year’s race, though as many as 350 may show up.
The first two miles of the ride involve a police escort.
“The police do an amazing job,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without their help.”
Traditional Gran Fondo events have placed an emphasis on food, and the Gran Fondo Moab is no different. The ride will have lunch catered by Ken Moody of Moab Private Chef. Lunch will be served at noon by the finish line at Old City Park, 2231 Elk Circle.
60-mile bike ride attracts 300 riders this weekend
When: May 4, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West, and Old City Park, 2231 Elk Circle
Cost: $85; free to spectate
Info: Visit granfondomoab.com, email email@example.com or call 435-259-7882
“It’s a fun event with people joining both from the community and the region.”