Levi’s (King Ridge) Gran Fondo is one of the best Gran Fondo’s world over, let alone in America or California. The event’s namesake is former world tour pro rider Levi Leipheimer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levi_Leipheimer. The routes feature Sonoma county’s world-class roads and wine region at their best. You can look forward to Alpine-style climbs and descents, beautiful redwood forests, spectacular ocean views, and many hills. There are five route options, starting with “The Growler” – 138 Miles and 13,500 ft elevation gain. The scale of the Growler is a thing to behold, so only sign up after understanding the challenge is substantial, rivaling the hardest stages of any world pro tour race. “The Gran” – 122 and 10,500 ft elevation gain is an all-new route and features the fabled King Ridge Road. Once there, you’ll turn north and return with another significant climb over Skaggs Road. Once you reach the valley floor, you roll through vineyards on your return to Windsor. “The Geysers” – 81 miles and 5,900 ft elevation gain, features Sonoma County’s highest pass: Geysers Road, with incredible views of the entirety of Sonoma County. This route equates to what was formerly known as The Fort, measured by its difficulty. “The Medio” – 67 miles and 3,000 ft elevation gain extends into the Mayacamas foothills, features rolling hills with moderate pitches mixed in and the gorgeous backdrop of Sonoma County’s rolling vineyards. “The Piccolo” – 32 and 1300 ft elevation gain, is completely approachable and takes participants through the backbone of Sonoma County’s wine country along the rolling hills surrounding Windsor.
Bike Monkey, a premier road and gravel cycling event producer in Northern California, produces the event. Sister events include Fish Rock, Heart of Gold, Wente, Truckee Dirt Fondo, Hammer Road Rally, and Stetina’s Pay Dirt. Bike Monkey events are supported with SAG vehicles, well-stocked feed stations, and post-ride festivals.
There is a VIP option if you want to elevate your experience. Just 16 spots are available to rub shoulders with industry luminaries and pro riders, including a social ride with Levi on Friday before the event. VIP benefits include a commemorative cycling kit, seats at the King Ridge Foundation gala dinner, complimentary VIP staging, and access to the post-ride festival VIP tent, amongst other things. Levi’s Gran Fondo benefits the King Ridge Foundation, which supports several beneficiary organizations: Forget me Not Farm, True to Life Children’s Center, and Outride, which provide youth in need with services and programs.
If you’re unfamiliar with riding in Sonoma County in the Spring, prepare for a sublime, although challenging, experience. Although this time of year can bring some rain, you’ll likely be treated to bright blue skies and verdant green landscapes following the winter rains. Naturally, it’s a great event and location to build a long weekend or vacation to enjoy the California wine country and all the region has to offer. Make sure you bring your climbing legs and prepare for varied conditions, especially as you reach the coast, which could be bright blue or shrouded in fog. Whatever the conditions, you will surely enjoy this world-class route and event.
Best Road Cycling Events in California 2022