Cyclists To Gather For Gran Fondo

A rider at a past event. Submitted photo

MAYVILLE — The fourth annual Chautauqua Gran Fondo charity cycling event is set for Saturday. The tour begins at Webb’s Captain’s Table Restaurant, and is scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m. After bicyclists are finished with their chosen routes, a family-friendly post-ride party will feature live music, lunch and refreshments.

The Chautauqua Gran Fondo is a community event designed to promote health and well-being for cyclists of all skill levels while raising funds for local nonprofit organizations.

Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy Chautauqua Lake and it’s surrounding historic destinations on one of three scenic routes. There will be plenty of rest stops, photo opportunities and full SAG support on the road.

Some of the highlights along the tour routes are Midway State Park, Bemus Point, the Celoron lighthouse, 59 Lucy Lane, Lakewood Beach, and Chautauqua Institution.

This year’s events will raise funds for several local charities: The Rappaport Fund for Breast Cancer Patients and Equipment, the Chautauqua Lake Sailing Foundation, the Rosemary “Rosie” Billquist Memorial Fund, and The Creche, Inc.

Cyclists ready to begin the event. Submitted photo

Creche, Inc. and the Chautauqua Lake Community Sailing Association have teamed up for the second year to bring the “Boat Back to School” to the Gran Fondo once again. A sailboat will be set up in the parking lot, and the community — both cyclists and non-cyclists alike — are encouraged to stop by and drop off any new school supplies to help fill backpacks for area students.

THE ROUTES

This year the routes have been updated due to the Stow Ferry being under repair. Each cyclist is allowed to choose their own path: there is the 20-Mile Social Route, the 40-Mile Fitness Route, and the 60-Mile Challenge Route. Riders should take into account their skill level and determination before setting off from Mayville.

“We were hopeful that the ferry would be operational at the time, but two weeks ago it was confirmed that it will not be. We had to look at all the elevations and see what makes the most sense,” said Michelle Turner, Vice President of Marketing County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency.

THE SOCIAL — 20 miles

Cyclists enjoy the route. Submitted photo

This choice is an ideal fit for the casual cyclist; this ride follows Route 394, going past the Chautauqua Institution, Willow Run Golf Course, bypasses the Interstate 86 connection, and ends up at the Children’s Safety Village in Ashville. After a brief stop and refreshments, cyclists then return to Webb’s Captain’s Table following the path they just traveled. This is a perfect route for families and social riders.

“The halfway point will be the Children’s Safety Village,” said Turner. “We’re excited about that because that’s a unique place. Being that the majority of our riders are from outside Chautauqua County we felt it was a really cool thing for them to see and stop and get some refreshments. There will be representatives from the safety village to let them tour the different buildings and see what it’s all about.”

THE FITNESS — 40 miles

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, or just want to cycle around Chautauqua Lake, the Fitness Route is an ideal fit for you. This route is loaded with sights and refreshment stops along the way as it loops around the entire Chautauqua Lake.

This route begins and ends in Mayville, and cyclists go along Route 430 through Hartfield, Dewittville, pass the historic and newly renovated Midway State Park, through Bemus Point, down into Celoron, and back up through Lakewood on their way back to Mayville along Route 394.

THE CHALLENGE: THE METRIC CENTURY — 60 miles

Die-hard cyclists will enjoy the thrill of climbing the Chautauqua Ridge via Route 394, passing through historic Westfield and up to Lake Erie’s Barcelona Lighthouse before returning to Chautauqua Lake along Route 308. Cyclists will then connect to Route 430 and loop Chautauqua Lake, following the same path as the Fitness Route.

“It was suggested by a number of the riders that we increase it and make it a metric century (100 kilometers), the thought being that it would draw a whole new contingent of riders,” Turner stated.

SELFIE SPOTS

As a means to promote the fun, family friendly event, there will be four “Selfie Spots” set up along the routes: the Children’s Safety Village, 59 Lucy Lane, the three corners in Bemus Point, and the big blue chair at Webb’s Captain’s Table Restaurant.

“We are encouraging riders to hit those spots, take some fun shots, and post them on their social media,” Turner said. “It is instrumental in helping us increase the exposure for the Gran Fondo event and show people that this is more than just a ride: it’s fun, it’s interesting, and it offers some great stops throughout Chautauqua County that helps showcase our county.”

THE AFTER PARTY

Following the cycling portion of the event, a family-friendly party is scheduled to reward everyone involved. Located behind Webb’s Captain’s Table Restaurant, cyclists and their families are invited to continue celebrating their victories with food vendors, draft beer and live entertainment. Family and friends who did not participate in the cycling event are also welcome to attend. There is no cost for general admission; however, a donation box will be located at the main gate.

This year’s food truck will be Sticks & Bricks Wood Fired Pizza. Located out of Erie, PA, this wood-burning oven on wheels will offer some options for the pizza-loving bicyclists and their friends.

“They’re going to keep kicking out pizzas and will have a few large salads so riders can keep eating all afternoon long while they’re watching the band,” Turner said. “I’ve heard people raving about this food truck.”

This year, new to the event, will be a Southern Tier Brewing Company beer truck, which will offer a variety of craft beers on tap. Bottled water will be available to all the cyclists again this year, thanks to a donation from Pepsi.

Vendor Row returns: located directly outside the main gate of the after-party, this village of tents will showcase some of the community’s great businesses and service groups.

Webb’s Captain’s Table Restaurant also offers VIP access for cyclists who wish to avoid the heat under the covered patio with an exclusive. Tickets for the “Party on the Patio” are $50 and include an exquisite buffet lunch, plus beer, wine and cocktails.

The Porcelain Busdrivers, will be providing this year’s entertainment. They are a “group of young guys who have been around for years. They have a great following. They are excited about doing this event because of the number of people that will be there,” Turner stated. “A lot of the people will have never seen them before because they come from outside of the area. And (the Busdrivers) want to support the good cause.”

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