2018 Black Bear Gran Fondo slated for Saturday, July 14
Cyclists can still sign up for annual bicycling event that offers 100-mile course, 100-kilometer loop, and 45-mile option
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The 2018 Black Bear Gran Fondo – an event that gives cyclists the opportunity to complete a 100-mile “century ride,” a 62-mile “metric century ride” (100 kilometers), or a 45-mile loop – is only a few weeks away, but riders can still sign up and participate.
The Black Bear Gran Fondo – formerly known as the Black Bear Bicycle Tour – starts and ends at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. Before the event made significant changes to its format in 2016 – including the new name – the event’s 100-mile course ran from Grayling to Oscoda.
How to sign up for this year’s Gran Fondo?
There are a few different registration options. Participants can download a PDF of the sign-up form from the event’s official website, blackbeargranfondo.com, and mail it to: Grayling Rotary Club, P.O. Box 373, Grayling, MI 49738. Cyclists can also sign up for the Gran Fondo online through Active.com; there is a link to the site on the Gran Fondo’s Internet page.
The current cost to sign up online is $50 or $25 depending on distance and age group. The registration fee on race day will be $60.
According to the event’s website, on-site registration will be available on Friday, July 13, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Northbound Outfitters (6041 W. M-72) and on Saturday, July 14, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at Hanson Hills. Packet pick-up for pre-registered participants will be conducted at the same times and locations as the on-site registration.
This year’s Gran Fondo will include three distance options for participants: 100 miles, 62 miles, and 45 miles.
“Three routes to choose from: 100-mile route with two additional concentric routes that fit inside the 100-mile route – 62 miles (metric century), and 45 miles. All routes start and finish at Hanson Hills Recreation Area in Grayling, Michigan, are chip-timed, are on paved roads, and experience the beauty of both Crawford and Roscommon counties. One-hundred, 62 mile routes go clockwise and cross the famed AuSable River at various points along the way. Our 45-mile route heads south on Military Road from Hanson Hills and then clockwise around Higgins Lake and back again to (Hanson Hills) on Military Road,” according to the event’s website. “Riders on all routes will travel on both flat and gently rolling hills, past lakes, rivers, and forests, with points of interest all along the way. There area also amazing elevations well known to our riders that have completed the challenge on any of the three routes,” according to the event’s website.
The 2018 Black Bear Gran Fondo will start at Hanson Hills Recreation Area on Saturday, July 14, at 8 a.m. (100 miles), 8:30 a.m. (62 miles), and 9 a.m. (45 miles).
The different times for the distance mass starts allow riders to be in groups with cyclists of similar pace.
“Riders are required to stage according to their ability to ride in a large group. All riders depart the start line at one time, requiring less experienced riders to position themselves toward the back of the mass start group. All route timing is relative to when the riders cross the line, so no time penalty will be incurred by starting further back in the group,” according to the event’s website.
Event organizers are hoping for at least 200 participants for this year’s Black Bear Gran Fondo. Last year’s event had approximately 150 riders. Two years ago, the Gran Fondo had more than 180 riders.
“There is a tremendous amount of competition for cycling events in Michigan in the summer and our participants have spoken very favorably of their experience with the Black Bear Gran Fondo each year,” said Stephanie Riemer of the Grayling Rotary Club. “This is our third year with the gran fondo start and since we changed the format of this event from a point to point route to three chip-timed looped routes, we have developed a well-organized planning process and have built on our learnings each year.”
Anything different for this year’s Black Bear Gran Fondo compared to last year?
The Rotary Club will add an awards ceremony for the top finishers in each of the three distance options.
Also, the event plans to utilize the new Rotary Pavilion at Hanson Hills and have a new sound system in place.
“We are hoping to use the new pavilion at Hanson Hills, which was a Grayling Rotary project funded with Black Bear Gran Fondo proceeds. We have purchased a new sound system to create a celebration atmosphere,” Riemer said.