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Event Series Event Series: Gran Fondo National Series

Gran Fondo Maryland

September 17

road cyclists at gran fondo maryland

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

The 2023 & 2024 editions hold even more significance, as it hosts the USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championships. Frederick was where the Gran Fondo National Series began, with the first national championship held in 2012. Now, the event returns, more vibrant and promising than ever before, making it an unmissable opportunity for cyclists nationwide.

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. What sets this event apart is the timed sections – 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 towards 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.

As riders cross the finish line in downtown Frederick, a celebratory atmosphere awaits. 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. Lastly, participants have a shot at the PRIZE RAFFLE, where over $5,000 of prizes from series sponsors will be handed out, ensuring that the Gran Fondo Maryland experience is rewarding in more ways than one.

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.

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 Balitmore 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 that prefer a more home-like experience, there are plenty of vacation rentals to 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 crown jewel of the park 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, which winds its way through Frederick, 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. There are several put-in and take-out points along the river, giving adventurers flexibility in planning their trip. Companies like Monocacy Canoe Club even offer guided trips, ensuring a safe and enriching experience on the water.

Related Events

The Gran Fondo National Series was established in 2012 and comprised 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 2023 USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championship event will be held at Gran Fondo Maryland in Frederick, Maryland, on September 17.

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 FloridaTour of Georgia Gran FondoHighlands Gran Fondo;  Gran Fondo AshevilleBoone Gran FondoGolden Gran FondoGran Fondo Maryland.  Partner events include Cheaha Challenge;  Vermont Gran Fondo; Utah-Cache Gran Fondo; Virginia’s Blue Ridge Gran Fondo; 719 Ride; Mt Evans Hill Climb Gran FondoThese events consistently rate as some of the Best Road Cycling Events in the Southeast, New England, Rockies / Colorado, and in the Southwest / California

For multi-sport endurance athletes looking for other events in the state of Maryland and broader Mid-Atlantic region, be sure to check out our full list of Strambecco Best in Class trail running, gravel and mountain biking events, such as The MoCo Epic taking place in October.

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Gran Fondo National Series
(765) 247-BIKE
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