Gran Fondos: The Price to Pay

I’ve written about this before, but in times of inflation and soaring energy prices, I thought it might be useful to look at other essential living costs we have: cycling events.

A client/friend emailed me yesterday and told me about his brother getting back into organizing cross country running events in the UK. People who live near Glasgow may not be able to pay their heating bills this coming winter, but they can run a race for £2!

This got me thinking about another friend recently who told me how much the Sea to Sky Gran Fondo was in Vancouver (from Van to Whistler up the Sea to Sky Hwy) – $325 if you buy right now…prices are rising. The longest version of this event is 122km.

Back in Europe, you have the Etape du Tour, which is surely the most famous ‘fondo’ in the world. I think that next year’s race is around €130 (sold out in 4 hours). This one is on closed roads, which is pretty rare here.

Amstel Gold Race and long time ago

There are other famous fondos in Europe though – a lot of the biggest pro races have an accompanying amateur event. All the Monuments (LBL, Milan-Sanremo, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Lombardia) have them, as well as up-and-comers like Strade Bianche, which is €97 in 2023. Most of these Monument events are under €100, which may seem like a steal to some and a sin to others.

The list could go on and on: Would you like to ride 315km around a Swedish lake? How about a Spanish/French event that you will never, ever learn to pronounce? There is a massive cycling event out Hamburg that takes place on the same day as a pro race. And of course, there’s a one-day / 3-country ride around Mont Blanc that will make you stronger if it doesn’t kill you first.

How’s that for a paella pan!

And then you have hundreds of local cyclosportives (in France) that have beautiful courses, strong competition and free wine at the end! A hidden gem that I’ve only ridden once is the Granite Mont Lozère, which is only €35 for a 122km/2800m ride. If you can get through it, that’s a lot of bang for your euro.

11 years ago – not impressed with my first Granite ride

What do you have in your neighborhood, pricey or otherwise, Dear Reader?

15 thoughts on “Gran Fondos: The Price to Pay

  1. I’m fortunate that we have loads of organised rides though none on closed roads and they rarely cost more than Euros 35,00 and often the cycle club meet the cost of our inscription. No one in France would pay $325,00 for a Gran Fondo, that’s the cost of a week’s cycling!

  2. I was back in Canada recently and found it even more expensive than Switzerland at times. I checked a Sportive I did years ago outside of Calgary (the Rockies were much younger) called the Golden Triangle – 3 days 320km and 3200m (one of the towns is called Golden). I think it’s the official organisers website and registration is $247 which includes coach from Calgary so it’s actually not too bad if you compare it to HR. Of course one would have to add 2 nights accommodation either hotel or campsite.

    • That is a good price for a 3-day event, no question. I would actually love to do a sportive in Canada one day. I left long before I got into cycling (the Rockies were maybe a touch older than when you left…).

  3. Hmm, for me there are three factors. Closed, also a pro ride like flanders, scenery. Hamburg is just under 100 euro, but this year boooooring. Nearly my tuesday trainigsride..
    North america might have an insurance issue. Ar least new york

    I also like to ride grand fondo tracks, when there is no grand fondo. Como and bergamo for example
    And alpine stages, when they are closed to cars. Like stelvio or dolomites…

    • I agree. Riding route that famous races take place on is all part of the magic. Closed roads are great, but I guess you’d just need to look carefully. And yes, we remember well that NY has an insurance issue…if you recall that blog article, you are a long-time reader!

  4. I’ve never ridden a cyclosportive close to Paris, so can’t speak from experince about truly local events. But I have a soft spot for Les Marcaires, in the gorgeous vallée de Munster in the Alsace. 120km/3000m d+. You start from the Maison du Fromage, no less and cheese supposedly features prominently at the finish. I was surprised to meet riders from Belgium at the start line. Pre-event communication quite good (for France) and the roads are at least partly closed. Alas I can’t speak for the entire route since I was DNF (due to stoopid back). Bit of unfinished business there!

    • Never heard of that one and I’m not convinced I’d be ready for a bunch of cheese at the end of a hard ride, but I’ll also never say never. Alsace seems soooo far, but if I think like a Canadian, it’ll just be up the road. Are you going to do that one next year?

  5. The cost of Sportives went up dramatically about 5 years ago and coincided with my discovery of Audax. No closed roads here in Ireland so paying €5/10 for a 200km+ event killed Sportives at €50+ for me. Now Audax is self supported so you don’t get food stops or toilet facilities but that’s what shops, packed lunches and petrol stations are for. I’m not a fan of queues at food/toilet stops anyway and I like to eat by my own choice so it suits me. I also love the laid back atmosphere of Audax

    • I can see the attraction! There are Audax-type rides down here, but I haven’t looked into them too much. I wonder if they are similar to what we would call a ‘randonnée’?

  6. The French ones i ve done are very cheap and the more expensive ones throw in a jersey, that would otherwise cost more than the entry fee. Compared to English ones, never closed roads and extortionate fees.

  7. We’re in the east of Central Scotland, lots of sportives around for varying costs. The one I try to do each year is the Tour of Tweeddale in the Scottish Borders, it’s great value at £25 and there are 2 route, the wee and the muckle (90-100 miles and around 5,000 feet of climbing). Low key & friendly. Signed up, but to pull out this year through illness. Next year beckons though!!

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