Since my first Gran Fondo Hincapie in 2014, I have been a fan of the event. “FONDO is for FUN” is what I tell anyone who asks about it. The timed segments allow you to compare your best effort against anyone who came that day, including some world-famous names. And the remainder of your day is a pure celebration of the act of riding a bike on beautiful, challenging roads. You’ll have a short but interesting conversation with someone in your paceline; you’ll lose track of that person later on; you’ll resume the interesting conversation 30 miles farther down the road, or at the after-party while in line for paella. Fondo offers the best of so many aspects of our culture, all in one day.
Gran Fondo Hincapie Junior Challenge
With the introduction of the Junior Challenge, the 2021 Greenville event brought an entirely new wrinkle: “FONDO is for FUTURE.”
The Gran Fondo Hincapie Junior Challenge is an event within the event, meant to build the level of junior cycling in America. The Hincapies raised the largest cash prize list ever offered to a junior field in North America, with full parity for men and women. As soon as they heard about it, the motivation of the riders in our junior program went right through the roof. We organized a recon ride the week beforehand, and they got to ride the course with a certain 17-time Tour rider, a certain Maglia Rosa wearer, and a certain Olympic medalist. Having a reason to keep training deep into October shortened the long wait of their off-season and would help to propel their fitness into 2022.
Game day brought perfect blue skies and warm temperatures. The boys rose to the challenge and finished 1-3-4-7, with a potential podium sweep interrupted by fierce resistance from the reigning US road race champion who had flown in from Texas. The other podium spot was earned by a Californian. Afterward in the grassy field, all the juniors from all the teams were hanging out and recounting the day, laughing and giving each other fist-bumps after 50 miles of cut-throat racing against one another. That’s a cornerstone of the character and culture we build within our program: become a gladiator on the course, and be a good human beforehand and afterward. It was working. And it reminded me, that, after all the training and all the battles—at the end of the day—the Fondo is indeed for fun.
– Rusty Miller
ONTO p/b Hincapie Racing Coach