2012 marked the very first year for the Dirty Gran Fondo, held in May last year up in Wandong, Victoria. Put on by the ‘Big Hill Events’ crew as the first of its kind in the state, the DGF was an instant success that brought together riders from road racing backgrounds, mountain biking and everyone in between. In much the same way that cyclocross has done in this country, the DGF presents a new format of racing that will appeal to everyone. Enduro Magazines resident speedster, Trent Lowe, was on hand for the debut of the DGF last year, and gave us his thoughts on the new event. The article was published in Enduro #22, though we have it available for you to download for free here.

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“The second year of the Dirty Gran Fondo will be held on Sunday 19th May starting and finishing at the Wandong Recreation Reserve. This event will attract roughly 200 riders and their friends and family to the Wandong area throughout the weekend. This isn’t your average cycle event – categories are based on distance (90K – Dirty Gran Fondo, 65K – Fondo and 35K – Medio Fondo) and what type of bike you ride (26”, 29” wheels, Cyclo Cross or Mongrel). Due to the varied distances and categories the ride attracts riders of all skill and experience levels.
This year we are pleased to announce Geigerrig as our naming sponsor. Geigerrig make pressurized hydration systems and will be showing off their latest products and handing out prizes on event day. We also have the exciting news that the Fitzroy Revolution are going to be holding a special feed zone, complete with coffee and music; it’s going to be such a distraction from the race there may be a few competitors who end up taking a short cut on the way back!
Take a scenic, mountainous road course and add cyclists ranging from pros to eighty-year-old cycle tourists – this is a Gran Fondo, a phenomenon that has taken Italy by storm. Gran Fondo means long distance or great endurance, races are usually 160-225 km long. Big Hill Events spin on the Gran Fondo idea has made it dirty; there is no bitumen, this is an off road course (mostly fire roads) which will take cyclists through the beautiful surroundings of the Mt Disappointment forest.” – Big Hill Events

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This new concept has bridged the gap between roadies and mountain bikers, with a large number of roadies on Cyclo Cross bikes. The rising popularity of Cyclo Cross cycling in Victoria has been phenomenal and the Dirty Gran Fondo distances of 90k, 65k or 35k offers riders an alternative to the standard Cyclo cross course, which are mostly 2.5-3.5k and consist of riders repeating laps for a period of time.

Current entrants to this years Gran Fondo include:

  • Adrian Jackson – Wombat 100 winner and Merida rider (on 29er)
  • Warrack Leach – Current VES 3hr winner and Trailmix rider (on 29er)
  • Roeland Suys – Belgian Marathon MTB rider (on 29er)
  • Allan Iacuone – 1994 Aus Road Champ (on Cyclo Cross)
  • Melissa Anset – 2012 Cyclo Cross Champ and iRide Rocky Mountain rider (on Cyclo Cross)
  • John Groves – Current VES team winner and Apollo Rider (on Cyclo Cross)

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For the return of the Dirty Gran Fondo, many of the top riders are re-thinking last years decision to run a cyclocross bike, purely because of the steepness of some of the climbs and the brutal nature of some of the fire roads. Adrian Jackson, who came a close second last year, had this to say: “My shoulders and arms were screwed after riding the CX last year! Plus the multiple flats wasn’t fun!” If you check out the below photo however, it looks like a lightweight CX bike would be a far easier load to lug up those really steep pinches. Hmm, what bike to bring…

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The Deets

Where: Wandong Recreation Reserve, Wandong, VIC
When: Sunday 19th May, 2013
What: 90km, 65km, 35km
How Much: $55 – $65
More Info: www.BigHillEvents.com.au

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Still not sure? Then check out this post-race interview taken last year after the DGF with Trent Lowe, who provides some insight into what to expect from the course, what type of bike he would recommend and how to train for the course conditions. While there are still a few questions up in the air for us, the one answer we do have is that this event will be an absolute hoot for everyone who’s getting on board!