‘Gran fondo’ ride planned around Lake Coeur d’Alene

A group of North Idaho cycling enthusiasts is organizing a European-style bike ride around Lake Coeur d’Alene this fall.

Coeur d’Fondo will include a 108-mile ride around the lake, plus three shorter rides, on Sept. 29. The event will dovetail with the Downtown Coeur d’Alene Oktoberfest celebration and raise funds for the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation.

Announced today, the event is billed as a “gran fondo,” a popular pastime in Italy which is catching on across the U.S. Last fall in California, 7,500 cyclists pedaled in one through the vineyards of Sonoma County.

The idea simply is an organized, mass bike ride on a scenic course. It’s not a race, although many avid cyclists compete like it is.

“This is a charity bike ride with the clock running,” said Charlie Miller, manager of the trail foundation.

Organizers say it’s open to all ages and abilities.

“The ride is designed to be spirited and challenging,” said Michael Ward, a Coeur d’Alene Realtor and one of the organizers.

Riders for all four routes will begin simultaneously on Sherman Avenue, downtown’s main street.

The long route travels south on state Highway 97 along the east side of the lake, passes through Harrison and St. Maries, heads west through Heyburn State Park, comes back up the west side of the lake along U.S. Highway 95, and returns downtown. It includes an elevation gain of more than a mile.

An 84-mile “medio fondo” will bypass St. Maries, and a 37-mile “piccolo fondo” will end in Harrison, where a lake cruise boat will ferry riders back downtown. A 15-mile “family fun fondo” will go to Higgins Point and back.

The entry fee is $75 for the three longest rides, $10 for the family ride.

An Oktoberfest tent will greet finishers on the resort lawn.

Information or to register: www.cdagranfondo.com.

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