PASADENA — With an estimated 600 cyclists and bicycle enthusiasts set to descend upon Pasadena and ascend into La Cañada Flintridge and beyond, the great experiment of Italian-American cycling begins Sunday morning at Pasadena City Hall.
The Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, Italy’s latest import, hopes to capture some of the magic of what has made the over century-old ride a sporting staple in its homeland a success in its inaugural North American tour.
“This isn’t a race, but a ride, an experience about cycling and about the Italian culture,” Giro spokesman Matteo Gerevini said. “It’s exciting to have this event in Pasadena because this is a city that loves and is passionate about cycling.”
There are three specific courses set up for novices (24.9 miles), experienced riders (66.9 miles) and veteran cyclists (92.8 miles) with differing elevations and treks.
All three rides commence during a mass start at 7 a.m. at city hall and are led by Italian cycling standout Francesco Moser, who will be available for photos and autographs.
The short course involves a round trip between Pasadena and hilly La Cañada that encompasses an elevation gain of 2,358 feet with a peak of 1,877 feet.
The intermediate course also incorporates an opening 13-mile ride from Pasadena to La Cañada that includes a roughly 46-mile excursion into the Angeles National Forest via the Angeles Crest Highway.
Eventually, riders will enter a southeastern swing through Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road that circles the competitors back onto Angeles Crest highway with an eventual return to La Cañada through El Vago Street and Alta Canyada Road.
The difference in difficulty is significantly largest between the beginning and medium routes, as the middle course is nearly three times longer and includes an elevation gain of 8,707 feet with a peak of 4, 822 feet.
As for the long course, which should only be tested by seasoned riders in good shape, the route similarly travels through Pasadena, La Cañada and the Angeles National Forest, but extends an additional 15 miles into the Sunland region before reversing and exiting out of La Cañada.
The total elevation gain is 12,527 feet with an equal peak of 4,822 feet.
Some of the sights each race promises are the Colorado Street Bridge, Rose Bowl, Old Town Pasadena and Paseo Colorado.
“There was an emphasis to include some of the landmarks around Pasadena into this ride,” said Sabra Nagel, the Technical Director of the Giro. “We wanted the best of Pasadena.”
The majority of riders are expected to cross the finish line between 12-2 p.m., with officials slated to stay until 5.
While the ride is generally non-competitive, there is a race portion along the 8.2-mile stretch of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road known as the Gran Premio della Montagna (a King/Queen of the mountain challenge).
The top three male and female finishers in each age group will win a prize as victors are determined by electronic timing.
After the race, riders and spectators are invited to take part in an Italian festival taking place near the finish line where the authentic copper Trophy of the Giro “Senza Fine” will also be available for photos.
Registration is still open for individual competitors Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at city hall.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times