Do you feel the buzz in the air? Soon, more than 1,600 participants will bike through West Michigan for the sixth annual MSU Gran Fondo. The timed, non-competitive cycling event on Saturday, June 23 benefits Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s skin cancer awareness, prevention and research.
Italian for “big ride,” cyclists of all skill levels will ride 10, 25, 40 or 80 miles. Some participants are avid cyclists with a passion for these types of “mass-start” events, while others are riding to honor a loved one or their own battle with skin cancer.
All routes start and finish in downtown Grand Rapids, with the longest route’s halfway point at Lake Michigan. Spectators can watch at the starting line, at Fulton Street and Monroe Avenue (just outside the BOB). At 8 a.m. the 40- and 80-mile riders start and at 8:30 a.m. the 12- and 25-mile riders take off. Spectators can also find a spot at North Beach, which is the main turn-around for the event.
Riders and spectators will celebrate at the Finish Line Festival, with live music, craft brews and gourmet food. The festival will take place at Fulton Street between Monroe Avenue and Ionia Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The MSU Gran Fondo is a nationally recognized cycling event, drawing participants from across the country, including George Hincapie, a 17-time Tour de France cyclist. This year’s event is unique because over 20 states are represented, and participants will travel in from London, England, said Lou Candiotti, event coordinator.
Since the event began, the MSU Gran Fondo has raised more than $926,000 and funded several promising skin cancer studies, including research on a new drug that stops the spread of melanoma by 90 percent. Candiotti said this year is particularly exciting, as the organization is only $80,000 away from reaching $1 million in total funds raised.
*Photos courtesy of MSU Gran Fondo