“Gran Fondo” is Italian and translates approximately to “Big Ride.”
Gran Fondo rides have their origin in Italy and France. Everyone, of any age and ability, was invited to participate. Ex-professionals and elite racers lined up side by side with 80-year-old farmers toting baguettes in the baskets of their 1920’s era commuter bikes. Family members lined the route and handed out food and water bottles. By definition, a Gran Fondo is not a race, but rather an event designed to draw the community together and give everyone a chance to enjoy the fun of riding a bike.
The Gitch Gumee Gran Fondo is a mass-start cycling event in the spirit and tradition of the great Italian cyclosportives. Launched in 2017, riders gathered at the start in one of the Midwest's most popular vacation destination towns of Hayward, Wisconsin to embark on an adventure route through the northern Wisconsin forests to the historic fishing village of Bayfield, Wisconsin.
We start the 80 and 100-mile groups together, departing from Cable at Rivers Eatery and Tilly's Pies at 8 am, with the 60-mile group starting in Drummond at 9 am, August 24th.
The GranFondo route will be well-marked and we will supply cue sheets.
4pm is the cut-off time for the Gitche Gumee Gran Fondo for those taking a bus back to Cable or Drummond.
Cyclists should be prepared to support themselves for the 100 mile route. We work with local volunteer groups to have water and feed stations available. Additionally, we work to provide mechanical assistance with local bike shop volunteers for this Gran Fondo; however, cyclists are encouraged to be fully prepared to support themselves owing to the significant distance of this ride.
Tommy started his cycling career racing as an amateur on the US National Team in the 80’s and 90’s, before turning pro for 7-11, the US’s first professional racing team and the first American team to participate in the Tour de France. Tommy came up with the Gitche Gumee idea way back when he first rode the route back in 1993 as a training mission while vacationing in Hayward with his family. After reviewing some regional maps, he came up with a spectacularly scenic route with the least traffic resistance possible. After returning, he couldn't stop telling family and friends about how awesome the ride was, as they relaxed on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior.
Jenny lives in Minneapolis currently, after living and working in France, London, and the Philippines. Jenny graduated from the University of St. Thomas where she ran varsity Track & Cross Country on 2 NCAA national champion teams. Jenny became familiar with the Hayward area from annual family summer vacations at the Old Chicago Club on Lac Court Oreilles. Now she enjoys running, cross-country skiing, and biking on the Hayward trails and swimming in the areas many lakes. After her first Birkie in 2005, she was hooked on cross-country skiing and bought a vacation home in Hayward to be able to ski on the Birkie trail and enjoy the Northwoods anytime.
Daryl grew up hunting and fishing in the Hayward area, graduating from Hayward High School. In 1990 he participated in his first Chequamegon 40, Greg Lemond won the race, and he was hooked on cycling. He went to the University of Wisconsin - Madison where he was a founding member of the UW Cycling program. For the next 20 years, he raced and rode many of the best routes throughout the Midwest. Finally, being drawn back to Hayward permanently in 2016, he connected with the Gitche Gumee Gran Fondo and discovered a ride that captures all the elements of why we live in this beautiful and spectacular region.
Steve Tilford Memorial Fund
Steve began racing at age 14 and quickly excelled in the junior ranks. He was invited by the U.S. National Team coaching staff to become a permanent resident at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO and went on to represent the United States on the National Road Team in top amateur races around the world. He turned professional in 1986, and continued racing with distinction for the next several decades across a range of disciplines and age categories.
A LEGENDARY BIKE RACER
Steve became well known for being able to race any bike and having remarkable longevity. His elite success may have begun in road racing, but he proved himself off-road as early as 1983 when he won the inaugural NORBA Mountain Bike National Championship. He would go on to win 5 U.S. National Championships and 7 Masters World Championships in mountain biking and cyclo-cross. Steve was still racing when he tragically lost his life in an auto accident returning from a training camp on April 5, 2017.
USA CYCLING’S ANTI-DOPING EFFORTS
At the request of Steve’s family, USA Cycling has created the Steve Tilford Memorial Fund to support USA Cycling’s clean sport efforts. Programs which encourage juniors to appreciate and respect the benefits and ideals of fair competition, and fully understand the risks and downsides to doping, will be a key area of focus. This fund will honor Steve’s passion for cyling and be part of his lasting legacy.
Please make your gift to the Steve Tilford Memorial Fund here.
Become a Sponsor
Northern Wisconsin has a world-renowned reputation for its location, people, culture and active lifestyle. The Gitch Gumee Gran Fondo team bring years of top-level cycling and marketing experience to offer promotional opportunities in which to market your product, grow your brand recognition and drive customers to your business. Our organization will work hard to promote your brand and realize your marketing goals. All opportunities are first-come, first-serve. To discuss partnering with the Gitche Gumee Gran Fondo, please fill out the form below.