What's a Gran Fondo ? It's described as a mass-participation competitive ride. "Mass participation" means about 2500 cyclists, in this case. Obviously, it isn't possible for 2500 cyclists to race in the conventional (first past the post) fashion, it would be chaos - instead, everyone gets a timing device on their bike, and get timed at various points on the circuit (including a fairly challenging hill climb for the KoM). We'll be setting off in groups of about 100 - still pretty large, but the hills along the way will no doubt reduce those. And all of the roads on the route will be closed, which should make for a nice ride indeed.
My original plan for cycling this year included "planning to do the Kinglake ride in April or so". But, every time I looked at the website of the organisers of the previous Kinglake rides, nothing had appeared mentioning a ride in 2011. After April, I stopped checking, figuring it wasn't happening this year. Then, in August, I signed up for this weekend's ride.
It turns out the Kinglake ride was on, but it got moved to September, last weekend in fact. If I had gone, it would have been 120km riding in cold, windy conditions with rain and hail - reports from those who rode mostly talk about how close they were to giving up part-way through.
This weekend ? The forecast is for sunny and 23 or so in Lorne, where the ride begins. I think I got very lucky there - could easily have ended up doing Kinglake instead if I'd seen their website at the right (wrong!) time ...
I'd better remember the sunscreen :)