BOBBY STEVENS/CHRONICLE PHOTOS The start/finish lane of the race was in the heart of historic downtown Cottage Grove, on the intersection between 7th and Main Street.

COTTAGE GROVE – This past weekend Cottage Grove was on a roll, welcoming hundreds of cyclists to the Oregon Gran Fondo. The event boasted all levels of road racing – with an Adventure Route lasting 130 miles, a Medio 71-miler, Gran Fondo 117-miler and a 25-mile Mini-gravel run. 

Athletes from all over the state came to race in the rain during the final round of the Oregon Triple Crown series and take in the beauty of the ancient Siuslaw National Forest. 

At the start line, ex-professionals and elite racers were lined up wheel to wheel with members of the local touring club, families, and anyone wishing to celebrate a challenging day on the bike. While some riders chose to test their endurance or reach a milestone achievement, the Gran Fondo welcomed all degrees of racers – from pros to kiddos – and everyone was in on the fun. 

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The event showcased the beauty of the South Willamette Valley’s scenery and roads and historic downtown Cottage Grove. Most races started downtown, while the Gran and Medio routes started at Bohemia Park, then headed west to Lorane and continued deep into the Siuslaw and Smith River watersheds. 

Gran Fondos traditionally are “big rides” that technically aren’t races but are still ridden in a competitive or “personal best” style. The Oregon Gran Fondo (as well as the other two Triple Crown events) was fully sanctioned by OBRA/Oregon Bicycle Racing, which supports all levels of cyclists. 

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Downtown was decked out with “Welcome Oregon Gran Fondo” signs in the window and racers were encouraged to show their badges for discounts and freebies (event entry came with a $10 food voucher redeemable at any local restaurant). 

The Fondo also overlapped with the farmers market and Friday Art Walk. Stores and restaurants were full of people; musicians busked on corners; and locals came out in droves to meet up with friends, buy and spy local art, and take advantage of free food and drinks served in nearly every establishment.

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