The first ever Tehachapi GranFondo cycling event has already exceed original projected expectations, said Michelle Vance, community outreach coordinator for Tehachapi City.
"Registration is going fabulous," said Vance. "We already have 470 registrants for the event, blowing our expectations out of the water." And the tally is growing. By last Thursday’s meeting of the Tehachapi Tourism Commission it was up to 530 and Vance was thinking there was a chance registration would reach the cap of 600 for the premier event.
The GranFondo will be held Saturday, Sept. 13.
"It will be an incredible day of riding along some of Southern California’s greatest mountain terrain with hundreds of other riders, and it will offer participants a chance to meet and ride with professional cyclists," said Vance.
Registration will accepted through the time of the event, however Vance stated there will be a 600 rider limit. She added that, of those earlier registrations, only 130 are local cyclists.
Similar to the Tour de France, a Gran Fondo — an Italian term that loosely translates as "big endurance" — offers cyclists a choice of course distance options, in which to challenge themselves and compete against friends before completing the race at a common area, in this case downtown Tehachapi, were the tour will also begin.
Organizations throughout the area are partnering up to pull together the event, Vance said, including the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District and the Tehachapi Tourism Commission.
"This event could not happen if it wasn't for our public safety volunteers," said Vance. "They are the natural benefactors of this event."
According to Vance, $9,500 of the projected proceeds will be split between the nine local organizations, including the Tehachapi Police Department, Bear Valley Community Emergency Response Team, California Highway Patrol, Kern County Sheriff's Office and Desert Search and Rescue Group, Bear Valley Police Department, Stallion Springs Community Emergency Response Team and Tehachapi Mountains Search and Rescue.
The remainder of net proceeds will go to seed next year's event and to the Tehachapi Tourism Commission.
The Tehachapi GranFondo Festival will surround the event on Friday, Sept. 12, from 3 to 8 p.m., and again on Saturday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Free and open to the public, the festival will be held at the Centennial Plaza in downtown Tehachapi on Green Street next to the BeeKay Theatre, and just one block from the starting line of the GranFondo. It will include live entertainment, food and beverage vendors and a beer and wine garden.
And the Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi will raise funds with a “GranFondo Pasta Fest from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12, in Centennial Plaza downtown. Attendees will be able to select from three pastas, three sauces, grilled chicken, Italian sausage and vegetables with an “all you can eat” (‘til it’s gone) dinner for $25 per person. Tickets are available at TehachapiGranFondo.com and from club members.
Professional cyclists will be signing autographs and meeting fans, and a variety of cycling industry and unique local vendors will have exhibits. A child-friendly activity area will also be set up to provide entertainment for the whole family.
"Tehachapi is going to roll out the red carpet so that all cyclists will consider this as the place to ride their bike," said Vance.