By JENNIFER K. BAUER
A Gran Fondo is to cyclists what a marathon is to runners, a personal challenge against a natural backdrop.
Gran Fondo roughly translates to big ride and is a long-distance cycling event that originated in Italy. Saturday’s Fondo on the Palouse is not competitive. Instead, it will highlight the beauty of the Palouse terrain to cyclists of all levels, from children to Italian pro-riders.
This is the second year of the fondo, started by T-Jay Clevenger, owner of Paradise Creek Bicycles in Moscow, as a way to showcase the region to cyclists, “when we have our most amazing weather and the beds are empty because the college kids are gone.”
Fondo on the Palouse has four routes that build upon each other, ranging in length from 15 to 100 miles. Two shuttles will cruise the course throughout the day, transporting people to various finish lines or back to Moscow. Nine aid stations run by area nonprofit groups will provide food and drink along the courses, which all begin in downtown Moscow at Paradise Creek Bicycles and include:
The Family Fondo: A casual 15-mile ride along the Latah Trail ending in Troy for a pancake feed. Starts at 10 a.m., $25.
The Latah/Chipman Fondo: A 50-mile route that does not involve traffic but instead follows the paved Latah and Chipman Trails. Starts at 10 a.m., $65.
The Potlatch Fondo: A 50-mile route that passes through Troy, Deary and Princeton, ending in Potlatch, where Potlatch Days will be happening. Starts at 9 a.m., $65.
The Moscow Fondo: A 100-mile route that begins and ends in Moscow and goes through Troy, Deary, Princeton, Potlatch, Colfax and Pullman. Starts at 7 a.m., $75.
A 4 p.m. celebration at the Church of the Nazarene in Moscow will conclude the event, Clevenger said. Besides a T-shirt, color-changing water bottle and other swag, those who register for the fondo will receive a discount coupon for a ticket to Saturday night’s Rendezvous in the Park music festival.
The Palouse fondo has attracted a group of professional Italian speed riders, including Giuseppe Fonzi, who competed in the Giro D’italia 2018, an Italian race second to the Tour de France for cyclists.
“They are national heroes in Italy,” said Clevenger, who will hold a free community reception for people to meet them at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Paradise Creek Bicycles. “Italy rivals France in personality for wanting to be a bike-centric culture.”
Proceeds from this year’s fondo will benefit participating nonprofits and the Latah Trail Foundation whose mission is to preserve the historic Moscow-Arrow railroad corridor for non-motorized recreational and transportation uses. Proceeds from last year’s event helped the foundation pave another 3 miles of the Bear Creek Canyon Trail, Clevenger said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Fondo on the Palouse
WHEN: Saturday, July 21
WHERE: All courses begin at 513 S. Main St., Moscow
COST: $25 to $75, register at fondopalouse.org