The â€œSpirit of the Giroâ€ was in high gear outside Pasadenaâ€™s historic City Hall as 1,000 bicyclists took to the streets at 7 a.m. Sunday, July 22, for the mass start of the historic, first-ever Gran Fondo Giro dâ€™Italia bicycle road tour held in the United States.
Legendary bicyclist Francesco Moser helped Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez begin the traditional mass start as they were taken onto the open road course by police escort and three new Fiat 500 sports cars.
Moser is one of the worldâ€™s most iconic riders of all times; a living legend in the cycling world with an impressive 273 career victories and two world championships.Â He dominated the international cycling scene in the 1970s and early 1980s, earning the nickname â€œThe Sheriffâ€ among fellow cyclists and competitors.
Although now long-retired from competitive cycling, Moser could not resist the urge to make history one more time by joining Mayor Bogaard and Chief Sanchez for the inaugural Gran Fondo event to be held in the United States under a clear, sunny morning in Pasadena, Calif.
Gran Fondos are long-distance cycling events that have been a tradition in Italy for decades and are becoming quite popular throughout the rest of the world.Â The term â€œGran Fondoâ€ translated from Italian means approximately the â€œBig Rideâ€ and refers to the event which is a cross between a long-distance recreational ride and a competitive event.
For Pasadena, bicyclists of all ages and abilities joined in the fun Sunday, opting to ride on one of three course distances of either about 25, 67 or 93 miles.Â All three courses included a traditional ride around Pasadenaâ€™s Rose Bowlâ€”Americaâ€™s Stadiumâ€”while the longer course took riders into Pasadenaâ€™s neighboring cities and up along Angeles Crest Highway in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Finish Line brought all riders back to Pasadena City Hall where the Gran Fondo Giro Dâ€™Italia Expo was held with numerous pavilions showcasing bicycles, riding gear, specialty items for cyclists and, of course, a traditional pasta Italian lunch celebration for all of the bicyclists.
The Giro dâ€™Italia also known as â€œThe Giroâ€ www.granfondogiro.com was founded in 1909 and is a highly competitive, three-week â€œGrand Tourâ€ race throughout Italy.Â It is considered among the biggest and toughest professional bicycle races in the world, highlighting the geographical diversity of Italy with challenging climbs and twisting descents, dramatic coastal runs and rural back road landscapes.
For more information about the City of Pasadena, go online to www.cityofpasadena.net.