Gran Fondo roughly translated is “Big Ride” in Italian.
Whether you are planning your first Gran Fondo and have just handed over your hard-earned cash for the entry, or your gearing up for another epic ride with your friends, getting a training plan together can make the difference so you’re not getting dropped by your mates on the first climb of the day.
Gran Fondo’s have definitely increased in popularity in recent years, and can vary in length, with some up to 200km in length, and some gaining up to 4000 meters of climbing elevation – ouch!
Specificity is the key to embarking on a Gran Fondo, training to the specifics of the course profile and terrain are important.
This may come as a surprise, but endurance isn’t usually the limiting factor for cyclists attempting a Gran Fondo, with most Grand Fondo’s incorporating climbing of some description, climbing ability can be crucial.
The ability to climb, so you at least can climb without having to dismount and walk up the climb, is a biggie for most people. If the grand Fondo has some sustained longer climbing, then try and focus on building up some climbing intervals of 10-30 minutes at sub-threshold to threshold and build up to 2-3 intervals and try recovery interval of half the effort (eg, 10 minutes interval, have a 5-minute recovery easy, but keep pedalling in your recovery zone if the gradient allows or cruise back down the decent safely). If the Gran Fondo course primarily has smaller power-based climbs, aim for 3-5-minute climbing intervals in the VO2 Max training zone with a recovery period of equivalent time (eg, 4 minute effort, have a 4 minute recovery).
Building up some time on the bike is usually a good investment for Gran Fondo’s, as they are likely going to be one, if not the, longest day of riding of the year for many. Getting in some 5-6 hour rides in are ideal, but for many it’s not practical with family and work commitments. If this is the case you find yourself in, an alternative to big long rides is to try and string some consecutive back to back rides of 3-4 hours for 2-3 days in a row, to help prepare the body for the fatigue and demands of the Gran Fondo
Recovery is a major key to training, with some of your biggest gains coming from adequate recovery. This includes some easy recovery rides after big training days or weeks, and making sure you fuel your body nutritionally for training and post training. The week out from the Gran Fondo should be low key and easy, as there aren’t many gains you’ll make in that week from training, except fatigue if you go to hard or over do it on the bike. Fresh is the best!!!
The day itself
All the best from the Euro Cycles Team.
Note: This is not individualised training advice, and you should consult with an exercise or medical expert about your specific health needs.