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Event Series Event Series: 2024 Gran Fondo National Series

Gran Fondo Maryland 2024

September 15

USA Cycling National Gran Fondo Champions 2023
Last Updated April 2, 2024

This is it!  Gran Fondo Maryland is not just any gran fondo event; it doubles as the USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championship.  Gran Fondo Maryland is the culminating annual event in the highly acclaimed Gran Fondo National Series.  The event is open to all participants. However, participation in the National Championship competition requires qualification (see below).   With proximity to huge cycling communities in Washington and Baltimore and an early fall spot on the calendar, Gran Fondo Maryland is where cyclists celebrate their summer fitness before the cold weather sets in. Some ride hard, and others just cruise, but everyone wants to return to Frederick, MD to enjoy the celebrations. Gran Fondo Maryland stands as a pinnacle of road cycling events, offering a unique blend of competitive and recreational cycling – it’s an experience that urges you to ride alongside friends and rivals, soaking in the picturesque Maryland terrain. At Strambecco, we consider it to be one of the Best Road Cycling Events in the Mid-Atlantic

Gran Fondo National Series

Gran Fondo Maryland is the final leg in the prestigious Gran Fondo National Series, established in 2012 and comprising 10+ European-style rides/races staged in the United States. Every GFNS event offers courses covering 30, 60, and 100-mile journeys through some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain in endurance sports.  Timed sections allow riders to compete in specific course segments, while casual cyclists can ride at their own pace. Participants can ride as individuals or on teams. GFNS awards special prizes to the top riders in every age and gender category. Each rider is assigned an electronic timing chip to keep track of their progress throughout the course and to allow riders to compete for the best time through highlighted sections.

For the most competitive cyclists, the series partnered with USA Cycling to bring the one-day Gran Fondo National Championship into the portfolio of official USA Cycling National Championship events. The event is held annually, and a national championship jersey and medal are awarded to the overall winner in each Gran Route age group category. The USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championship event will be held at Gran Fondo, Maryland, in Frederick, Maryland, on September 15, 2024.

To compete in the National Championship category, riders must qualify by meeting specific criteria, including results and rankings in Qualification Events. However, all riders are welcome to participate in Gran Fondo Maryland and ride any of the normal Maryland Gran Fondo routes (Gran, Medio, and Piccolo), regardless of qualification status.

GFNS-owned events include Gran Fondo Florida (Dade City FL – March 17), Tour of Georgia Gran Fondo (Helen GA, April 21), Highlands Gran Fondo (Butler NJ – June 2), Gran Fondo Asheville (Asheville NC – July 14), Boone Gran Fondo (Boone NC – Aug 4), and Gran Fondo Maryland (Frederick MD, Sept 15).  Gran Fondo Maryland doubles as the USA Cycling Gran Fondo National ChampionshipPartner events include Cheaha Challenge (Jacksonville AL – May 18-19), Vermont Gran Fondo (Bristol VT – June 29), Cache Gran Fondo (Logan UT – July 13), Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb – Gran Fondo (Idaho Springs, CO – July 20), 719 Ride (Colorado Springs – July 20), and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Gran Fondo (Fincastle, VA – Oct 13).  All GFNS races consistently rate among the Best Road Cycling Events in the SoutheastNew EnglandRockies / Colorado, and Southwest / California

Race GFNS E-Fondo’s On Zwift

If you are looking for virtual races/events to kick off your 2024 season indoors, GFNS has produced the first eSports cycling competition to feature timed segments; the series leverages Zwift’s proven e-sports platform to recreate SUAREZ Gran Fondo National Series’ timed-segment competition format in a virtual environment.  There are eight events running on consecutive weekends in January and February.  The events are free to participate and offer the chance to qualify for the Gran Fondo National Championship.  You can see the full line-up and get all the relevant details here.

Event & Course Info

Participants choose from three distinctive routes: the ambitious 100-mile Gran Route, the challenging 60-mile Medio Route, or the approachable 30-mile Piccolo Route. The timed sections set this event apart – the best combined time determines the winner. This unique format enables riders to test their mettle during the timed segments, then regroup, refuel, and enjoy the journey as they move toward the next segment. While Maryland might not be your first thought for challenging ascents, Gran Fondo Maryland boasts one of the steepest elevation gains per mile in the entire Gran Fondo National Series. Yet, with its impeccable road conditions and the refreshing chill of early fall, it remains among the series’ most favored events.

100-Mile Gran Route: This route offers a dynamic blend of terrain and challenges. After rolling out of historic downtown Frederick, riders will climb over 10,000 feet through state parks, forests, watersheds, and the Catoctin Mountain National Park. Four timed sections, with gains ranging from punchy 279-foot ascents to challenging 11.4-mile climbs, punctuate this route. Fully stocked aid stations at Miles 23, 52, 70, and 85 ensure riders remain fueled throughout the journey. In the 100-mile loop, there are four timed sections.

60-Mile Medio Route: Offering two timed sections and a total elevation gain of 5,718 feet, this route is no pushover. Riders will face varied terrains, and aid stations at Miles 17, 34, and 50.

30-Mile Piccolo Route: Perfect for those wanting a shorter but rewarding day in the saddle, this route has one timed section. With an elevation gain of 2,338 feet, riders will still enjoy a challenging ride, supported by an aid station at Mile 16.

Beyond the physical challenges, riders are treated with top-tier support. Traffic control ensures a safe riding environment, and fully stocked aid stations offer water, soda, HEED energy drink, savory snacks like potato chips, and sweet treats such as bananas, clementines, fig bars, and cookies. Professional mechanics roam the course, ready to lend a hand, although every participant should be prepared for basic issues like punctures.  You can ride confidently on a well-marked and marshaled course supported by law enforcement, safety motos, mechanics, and SAG vehicles.  Well-stocked feed stations are ample and supported by a local youth police program, and the organizers have worked tirelessly to ensure that the courses are in impeccable shape, guaranteeing a fantastic weekend for all participants.

A celebratory atmosphere awaits as riders cross the finish line in downtown Frederick. Participants can relish a post-race meal, indulge in a beer from Monocacy Brewing, and groove to live entertainment. And the rewards don’t stop there. Awards and winner jerseys are up for grabs for the Gran Route age group categories, with additional prizes for 60-mile and 30-mile winners. Whether you’re racing for the championship or riding to enjoy the scenic beauty of Maryland, this event promises an unforgettable experience. Check out the official 2023 Rider Guide for all of the nitty-gritty details about the event.

The top 3 finishers in various categories will be celebrated and awarded, with Gran Route age group winners receiving custom kits from Suarez.  New for 2024, you’ll receive an event-specific custom jersey from SUAREZ Cycling Apparel when you register at least 26 days before a Gran Fondo National Series-owned event!  There will be event-specific jerseys for Gran Fondo Florida, Tour of Georgia Gran Fondo, Highlands Gran Fondo, Gran Fondo Asheville, Boone Gran Fondo, and Gran Fondo Maryland. After the ride, participants can enjoy food and local libations and hang out for the GFNS prize raffle, offering over $5000 in prizes from series sponsors. Any rider who completes a GFNS event and is present at the event will be eligible for a raffle with great prizes from the sponsors:

Frederick MD – Area Accommodations & Things to Do

Frederick, MD is a charming historic city nestled at the crossroads of Maryland’s cultural regions, known for its vibrant arts scene, rich colonial and Civil War heritage, and a bustling downtown with unique shops, restaurants, and events. Its scenic beauty is complemented by the nearby Catoctin Mountains and its position as the gateway to Maryland’s wine country. It’s also a short drive from DC or Baltimore, making it a perfect long weekend getaway for Gran Fondo Maryland participants and their families. 

Frederick County boasts an array of hotel accommodations and charming historic B&Bs, ideal for a weekend getaway in Frederick. Homewood Suites, Home2Suites, 10 Clarke, and Hollerstown Hill B&B. For those who prefer a more home-like experience, plenty of vacation rentals suit your needs, from homes to townhouses. If you enjoy sleeping under the stars, there are many campgrounds in the area including Rock Run, Little Bennett, as well as many unique camping locations.

Frederick, MD, offers a diverse culinary landscape, blending historic charm with contemporary flair, featuring everything from farm-to-table eateries to innovative gastro pubs, ensuring a delightful dining experience for every palate. Local favorites include the Wine Kitchen on the Creek, Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar, and the White Rabbit.

Nestled amidst rolling hills, flowing rivers, and historic architecture, the city offers a rich tapestry of activities for athletes craving a blend of adventure and serenity. If you haven’t gotten enough cycling in at the Gran Fondo, the area’s scenic byways are a dream for cyclists. One of the most picturesque routes, especially during the onset of fall, is the Covered Bridges Route. Spanning just over 40 miles, this route takes riders through the verdant Frederick countryside, offering glimpses of the county’s three historic covered bridges. The gently rolling terrain provides both challenges and relaxation, making it perfect for cyclists of all abilities.

For those who prefer their adventures on foot, Cunningham Falls State Park offers a delightful mix of serene woodland and challenging trails. The park’s crown jewel is the 78-foot cascading Cunningham Falls – Maryland’s tallest waterfall. The Lower Trail, a relatively easy half-mile jaunt, leads straight to the falls. For a more challenging hike, outdoor enthusiasts can opt for the Cliff Trail, which offers steeper grades, rockier terrains, and a bird’s-eye view of the valley below.

Finally, the Monocacy River winds its way through Frederick and is perfect for canoeing and kayaking.  The river offers a unique perspective of Frederick’s landscape, allowing paddlers to glide past historic battlefields, dense forests, and fertile farmlands. Several put-in and take-out points along the river give adventurers flexibility in planning their trip. Companies like Monocacy Canoe Club even offer guided trips, ensuring a safe and enriching experience on the water.


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Gran Fondo National Series
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