Regarded by Outside Magazine as “One of the best 25 events in the world to do right now” and by Strambecco as one of the best cycling events in New England, the Vermont Gran Fondo is one of America’s premiere cycling events. The event was born from a popular bucket list gap ride known by the locals as the LAMB ride. LAMB comes from the names of 4 gaps (Lincoln Gap, Appalachian Gap, Middlebury Gap, and Brandon Gap) which, when combined into a single ride, can easily top 100 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing, not a bad effort for one day. In 2013, a band of local cyclists looking to create a new event for Vermont wanted something more challenging to complement the numerous valley ride events already taking place, and the LAMB was a perfect fit. Hence the Vermont Gran Fondo was born.
With three variations of the Fondo, there is a level for every cyclist: Starting with the Piccolo at 40 miles with 2,800 feet of climbing; The Medio with 80 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing; The Gran at 108 Miles and 10,300 feet of climbing. Each year the course’s four gaps are drawn from a selection of seven gaps; Appalachian Gap, Lincoln Gap, Roxbury Gap, Moretown Gap, Rochester Gap, Middlebury Gap, and Brandon Gap. The popular 6-gap ride includes all but Moretown Gap. Depending on road construction projects, which have been many, the course will vary from year to year, creating a unique ride each time.
This year’s course will include an ascent of Appalachian Gap, Lincoln Gap, Middlebury Gap, and Brandon Gap. The course begins in the village of Bristol, Vermont, and heads east toward Lincoln. Climbing, albeit light, to begin with, starts just 1.5 miles in. You’ll climb up towards the center of Lincoln and the Appalachian Gap, the first mountain climb. From Appalachian Gap, you’ll descend into Fayston and climb out of the valley, heading south towards Warren and turning towards Lincoln Gap, where the climbing gets “interesting.” With a 24% maximum grade and an average grade of 15%, the east side of Lincoln Gap is reported to be the steepest mile in the U.S. and, according to Global Cycling Network, one of the world’s steepest climbs. Although Lincoln Gap has often been singled out for its unique climbing status, other gaps in the event are no slouches. The Appalachian, Roxbury, Rochester, and Middlebury gaps include sections with extreme grades rivaling Lincoln. This is an event you’ll want to bring your climbing legs and climbing-friendly gearing.
This year a timed Gap Hill Climb Challenge with KOM & QOM trophies will be awarded to the top three men and women. The most challenging gap of the course will be designated as the challenge. As part of the Gran Fondo National Series (GFNS), there will be timing for each gap between KOM and GFNS points. Riders seeking a bit of additional motivation can empty the tank by attempting to set personal bests and compare themselves to others on each gap. Upload your climb times (for any or all of the four gaps) via Garmin or iPhone to Strava and compare your times on our event KOM and QOM segments for each gap.
Selected by Strambecco as one of the Best cycling events in New England, the Vermont Gran Fondo takes place in beautiful Northern Vermont and makes the perfect event as a weekend vacation and a destination biking event. The event is also a stop on the Gran Fondo World Tour and a Gran Fondo National Series event. Gran Fondo National Series produces premier one-day events, including the official USA Cycling Gran Fondo Championship. What’s unique about GFNS events is that they offer a mix of personal challenges and serious competition on roads with challenging climbs and incredible scenery. 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 of the course. There is no start-to-finish as in traditional racing formats, but timed sections count towards a rider’s competition time.