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Levi Leipheiner King Ridge Gran Fondo

Women's cycling supported during the Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge GranFondo

Sonoma County , California . Start and finish in Santa Rosa, October 3, 2009

Join three-time Amgen Tour of California winner, Levi Leipheimer, for a fully-supported fall bicycle ride in some of the nation's finest cycling country.  Three different routes, ranging from a fairly flat 36 miles, to a very hilly 103 miles, capture the romance of Sonoma County’s most picturesque vineyards, towering redwoods, grassy meadows and coastal panoramas. In the tradition of the gran fondo, these are timed, non-competitive rides. Very strong, skilled riders may opt for the 103-mile GranFondo; the 65-mile MedioFondo is intended for riders with plenty of experience but who ride only once or twice a week; we suggest the gentle 36-mile PiccoloFondo for less experienced riders or those looking for an easy pedal through beautiful landscapes.

WCN chatted to Paul Skilbeck and Carlos Perez, Event Director to gauge why women should take part in this event. 

"First, it's very important to understand that this event is in fact a very large group ride and not a race. As such, it is our hope that all of the participants of Levi's event will share an appreciation for the natural beauty, camaraderie and wonderful and enthusiastic support staff that the occasion will present," said Skilbeck. 

"First I would like to say that through several years of listening to female cyclists and consultation with leaders in female clubs, such as VeloGirls, we have devised a multi-level system of ride options that we believe provides supportive and rewarding experiences for the wide range of  aspirations and abilities present among female cyclists here in Northern California . While people will find the group that best suits them out on the road, after the ride we have created a dinner and expo area where people will mix more (and probably form into different groups based on other criteria)," added Skilbeck

Skilbeck added, "The rides will be attended by a number of pro and former pro cyclists, including former pro Odessa Gunn and her husband Levi Leipheimer. We expect a number of fast female cyclists to attend the GranFondo. There are three levels of ride for the range of aspirations and abilities. Those riders, male and female, that choose the 103-mile Gran Fondo option will be among 1,000 riders on the road. As it goes into the hills the field will spread out over several miles. There will be some riders ahead and some riders behind most riders of both genders. The feeling of having been dropped by the bunch is not so much present in this type of ride. If any of the top pro women attend, it is most likely they will be able to ride in the leading group or close to it.

The mix of riders @29th July:

GranFondo: 954 riders total. 2 tandems, 121 females. Tandems are usually female/male.

MedioFondo: 769 riders total. 12 tandems, 219 females. 

PiccoloFondo: 110 riders total. 5 tandems. 69 females.

Overall, 22.3% of our riders are female. 

We have a 65-mile MedioFondo. This is less challenging, but still contains the well known Coleman Valley Road climb from the Amgen Tour of California . So far we have 700+ riders signed up for this option. As with the GranFondo, the field is likely to get strung out over several miles, and most riders will see some ahead and some behind.

For spin class and casual cyclists, we have a 36-mile PiccoloFondo option. This is a brunch ride, and we expect a very casual pace in this ride. It is not expected to be nearly as fast as either the GranFondo or MedioFondo.

In this way, we are attempting to provide a cycling environment that appeals to all riders, both male and female, at many different levels. 

None of the rides is a race, but since all are timed, riders might wish to compare their times to those of their friends, or to their own time year on year."

Carlos Perez, Event Director added, "The aim of the event is to see that figure increase and are working through female related PR channels to effect this. The long term benefits to women, apart from the obvious physical, psychological and environmental benefits caused by cycling, are that through a graded system of organized ride, they are able to enjoy a rewarding, positive cycling experience in some of the most beautiful cycling country in the USA . Participation in our ride is  intended to be an enjoyable experience that will encourage women to ride more. 

As a fund-raising event that is focused on providing for our beneficiaries we do not have a sex-centric theme.  However, non-competitive riders who wish to partake in a very leisurely and festive atmosphere are invited to enter into our PiccoloFondo route which features a stop in Occidental to the tunes of the Green String Farm Band and a lively atmosphere.  Afterwards at the finish of their ride these participants will be treated to a wonderful brunch that is being provided by Forget Me Not Farm of the Sonoma County Humane Society--a non-profit charity and beneficiary of Levi's event that helps to foster positive family-farm based experiences for foster children that create possitive life-based growth experiences for them.

The PiccoloFondo 35 mile route with only 800 feet of climbing is a wonderful option for female riders who are concerned about being "shot off the back" because the entire field will be participating in a portion of the event that is geared towards non-competitive cyclists who wish to support a great cause while partaking in a wonderfully supported and festive event."

What can you ride:

Recreational, fully supported mellow-paced bicycle ride with three options (distances subject to minor change):

1. GranFondo - 103 miles on a challenging mountainous course with outstanding coastal views

2. MedioFondo - 65 miles on a picturesque hilly course with fine coastal views

3. PiccoloFondo - 36 miles on a flat valley-floor course through redwood forests and vineyards

Rest stops every 12 miles (approximately)


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