This is a special Gran Fondo National Series event on many levels starting with the chance to see the alluring Asheville downtown and surrounding countryside from the perspective of your handlebars. The event is particularly unique in that it doubles as both a traditional Gran Fondo and the USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championship. To compete in the National Championship category riders must qualify; however, all normal Gran Fondo Asheville routes are open to all riders to register and do not require qualification. There is a separate start time for USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championship participants who 30 minutes prior to the Gran Fondo Asheville riders.
GFNS has been producing premier one day events since 2012 and currently hosts 8 national events including the official USA Cycling Gran Fondo Championship. What’s unique about GFNS events is that they offer a mix of personal challenge 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 best time through highlighted sections of the course. There is not start to finish as in traditional racing formats, but rather timed sections count towards a rider’s competition time.
This Gran Fondo course starts with very short, punchy climbs, features long stretches of quiet, narrow, and winding country roads, and finishes with a classic climb up Elk Mountain to the Blue Ridge Parkway and a decent to finish at Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium, in downtown Asheville. The Gran route is 98 miles with 8,800 feet of elevation gain.
There is also a Medio route available at 61 miles with 4,900 feet of elevation gain, and a Piccolo route at 29 miles and 1,900 feet of eleveation gain.
Even with Gran course riders competing for the Gran Fondo National Championship, the timed segment format gives everyone the opportunity to socialize between segments. With the start/finish and post-ride party hosted at the Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium, this is one of the most festive, supportive, and fun events of the whole season.
There is much to experience in Asheville, Lonely Planet’s top U.S. travel destination in 2017. Asheville’s vibrant downtown is a hub for artists, musicians, renowned chefs, craft brewers and distillers. The area also features the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, Biltmore Estate, and outdoor opportunities like hiking on the Appalachian Trail and water sports on the French Broad River.