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Fun new biking event planned in Akron

Legal News Reporter

Published: September 10, 2018

The Fondo Cycling Circuit USA will make Akron one of six cities on its inaugural Gran Fondo cycling tour Saturday, Oct. 14, at a time when the city is looking to become a more bike-friendly city, according to a Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau press release.

Gran Fondo is Italian for “big ride” and based on past events held in Europe, big ride is viewed as a multi-faceted cycling event that’s part leisurely group ride, part scenic bike tour and part friendly cycling competition. These rides date back to the 1970s gaining popularity throughout Europe. It’s been called a “rolling cycling party,” that some participants have described as an event that captures the craziness, fanaticism and romance of road cycling.

“What you have is a cycling tour around Akron with points along the route that are timed segments,” said course designer and Summit Freewheelers Cycling team member Mark Erzen. “So there’s the competition aspect of it, and then the rest of it is a big ride and party along the streets.”

Fondo Cycling Circuit events offer three different cycling distances with 30, 50 and 75-mile options, and each distance has its own specific timed competitive segments. Other cities hosting the event include Davidson, North Carolina, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Clermont, Florida, Fredricksburg, Virginia and Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Erzen said all of the six US Gran Fondos offer a pre-ride expo party the day before the event along with the cycling ride itself which incorporates a professionally-designed course, start-to-finish chip timing, stocked rest stops and mechanical support. It all ends with a massive post-ride party that includes food and craft-beer truck services.

Akron’s Gran Fondo will kick off Saturday Oct. 13 at Lock 3 downtown from 2 to 6 p.m. with a packet pick-up/late registration session along with a pre-ride expo. There will be another late registration and packet pick-up session from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. on Sunday Oct. 14 at Lock 3, and then the ride will start promptly at 8 a.m.

Sunday’s post-ride party and festivities will continue throughout the day at Lock 3 and along the course.

Integral to a successful Gran Fondo are interesting, fun and challenging courses, Erzen said. As Akron’s course meister, Erzen said he scoured Summit and Medina counties in his effort to put together just the right mix of elements to make the Ohio event a hit.

“What we did,” said Erzen, “is look at it like, if you’re coming to Akron and starting downtown, what can we get you to see along the way? So we have the Goodyear headquarters, a lap around the proving grounds [Goodyear test track], Derby Downs and the Akron Air Dock.

“We’ll do a little tour past the Firestone Country Club in Portage Lakes, zip down past Barberton and then get down into the riding areas between Summit and Media counties," said Erzen. "We’ll do it much like they do with the Akron Marathon event.”

In addition to those landmarks, the route will also pass across both the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers and through Sand Run Metro Park and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, an avid cyclist who’s previously participated in the Sweet Corn Challenge Bicycle Ride, will also be riding in the inaugural event.

“I think it’s a pretty big deal,” said Horrigan. “And it comes on the heels of one of the best marathons in the country. So I’m excited. And being a bike enthusiast, I’m looking forward to supporting that event as much as we do the marathon.”

Early sign-up can be done online at: https://runsignup.com/Race/OH/Akron/FondoCyclingCircuitUSAAkronOH.

For those not interested in cycling, but who would still like to participate, the Fondo Cycling Circuit (FCC) is seeking volunteers for registration and packet pickup on Saturday Oct. 13, at Lock 3, and registration and food station support on Sunday, Oct. 14, at Lock 3 and at various stations along the three courses. 

The FCC is also willing to make a donation to any club or organization that can provide 20 volunteers. 

Interested volunteers can either contact the FCC online at https://runsignup.com/Race/Volunteer/OH/Akron/FondoCyclingCircuitUSAAkronOH or contact Erzen directly at 330-685-5270 or mark.erzen@gmail.com/