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Chris and Matt Tanner are co-founders of the Gran Fondo bike ride fundraiser to be held on August 17.

If you’re a bicycle enthusiast, mark your calendar for August 17. Indiana’s first-ever Gran Fondo wheels away at 7:00 that Saturday morning, rain or shine. Presented by the Rollfast Cycling Club of Indiana, the cross-country cycling event will offer three routes of varying length, and is designed to attract riders of all skill levels (participants must be 12 years or older). “Gran Fondo roughly translates as ‘big ride’ in Italian,” said event organizer and club founder, Matt Tanner. “Gran Fondos have been run for many years across Europe. It’s a hybrid between a long-distance recreational ride and a competitive event.”

A mass launch of the anticipated 500 riders is planned, with start and finish staged on E. 56th St. at Fort Harrison in Lawrence. Riders will navigate to Fall Creek Parkway, heading north to 96th St. From there, participants will branch off to their chosen course: Piccolo, 25 miles; Medio, 60 miles; or Gran, 100 miles. “This isn’t a race – it’s a timed event,” emphasized Tanner. “While participants will have microchips to record their times, it’s intended to be a relaxed atmosphere.”

So, why a Gran Fondo? “It was created for anyone who wants to ride and challenge themselves to do their best time on whichever route they pick,” explained Tanner. “Traditionally, bike clubs are expected to put on events, and we wanted something big, and that hadn’t been done before.” Event co-founder Chris Tanner added that proceeds raised will be donated to Nine13Sports, a local fitness organization targeting childhood obesity. “They’re mission is to get kids on bikes and exercising in a fun and effective way,” she said.

Each course will have support stations, with the 25-mile course featuring a rolling road closure for optimal safety. Organizers are seeking volunteer course marshals. “Biking is a new-found passion for me, and I’m excited about this. It’s going to be a really cool event for novice and experienced riders,” shared Chris. The Rollfast Gran Fondo tag line is “We go?!” – a question shouted to riders at the start of most European fondos. It always prompts an enthusiastic, positive response – something the Tanners are anticipating.

Online registration is now open at www.rollfastfondo.com. The cost is $75 for general riders, with a $250 VIP option available that includes a night-before party and silent auction with professional riders and other athletes expected to be on hand. Event packet pickup will be at Triton Brewery, where a post-race festival/expo is planned. Additional details are available at www.rollfastfondo.com.

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