It was a local charity ride that set Gran Fondo Ottawa event director Greg Capello on the path to creating his event. About seven years ago, Capello had just gotten back into cycling. After the charity ride, he went on to do a gran fondo in the U.S. Then, it was time to put one on in the nation’s capital. But in 2012, for the inaugural event, he was worried about attendance. “I started posting on Facebook and a couple of ride forums around the Ottawa area. Things took off. We ended up with 1,600,” Capello says.
Since then the ride has continued to develop. In 2016, a fifth ride distance was added: the piccolo fondo at 150 km. It joined the 65-km corto fondo, the 100-km medio fondo, the 180-km gran and the challenging 235-km super fondo. All rides leave from the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata, just west of Ottawa. They all head north toward the Ottawa River. The longer rides branch off from the shorter ones. The final branch comes at Burnstown, 105 km into the gran and super fondos. “The super fondo goes to Calabogie, Ferguslea, the feed station at Gourley’s Variety and Renfrew. That’s nasty in there. There’s lots of climbing,” Capello says.
While the super fondo is the biggest challenge, one of the reasons there are so many options at the Gran Fondo Ottawa, running July 15 this year, is that you can find the challenge that best suits you. “Choose a ride that challenges you beyond your normal comfort zone,” Capello says. “You know you’ll be on well-marked roads and supported with proper food and hydration, and mechanical support along with ride ambassadors and fellow riders.” Also, if you find yourself in over your head, you have the opportunity to turn off and follow one of the shorter routes.
At the end of their rides, participants get a meal with locally-sourced sausage and craft beer. Not a bad way to top off a big ride. (granfondoottawa.org)