Tour of Georgia Gran Fondo Brings Visitors From Canada and throughout the U.S.
CLAYTON, GA April 18, 2013 The inaugural Tour of Georgia Gran Fondo started and ended in Clayton. Between the start and finish, most of the riders climbed Georgia’s biggest mountains, including those climbs made famous by the Tour de Georgia professional race. Riders came from 11 states and one Canadian province. That’s right…the Gran Fondo in Clayton was an international event! The Clayton event was the second in the Gran Fondo National Championship Series. The first was in Central Florida and subsequent races are scheduled for Northern New Jersey; Golden, Colorado; Boone, NC and the series will finish with the National Championship race at Frederick, Maryland.
“The great thing about a Gran Fondo is that it isn’t a start-to-finish race, it’s about those timed segments along the route,” organizer Reuben Kline said. “Bicycle racing hasn’t been a user-friendly sport because races can be very dangerous. But with a Gran Fondo, anyone can come out and get a challenge in the timed segments, but spend the rest of it just touring around some of the most beautiful country in the area.”
This first-time event had almost 150 riders, the largest group of whom rode the 108 mile loop. Even though there were 150 riders, they had a big impact on Rabun County, particularly on Clayton, the host city. Teka Earnhardt of the Rabun County Convention & Visitors Bureau conducted a survey of hotels and learned that the riders and spectators accounted for 48 rooms and that most stayed for two nights with few staying as long as four nights. The race accounted for over 70 room-nights. Using generally accepted tourism spending numbers, the CVB estimated the economic impact of the ride at a little over $30,000. “For a first-time event, that’s a great impact, “ said Pete Cleaveland, Executive Director of the CVB. “What was amazing was the geographic spread of where these riders came from. I was at the awards ceremony and they asked who came from the farthest away and the winner was from Denver! And a close second was a guy from Wisconsin!”
Of course, the largest groups came from Atlanta and Athens, but the second place state was Florida with six riders from as far away as Miami. Third place was North Carolina and fourth place was a tie between Indiana and South Carolina. Sixth place was also a tie, between New York City and Tennessee.
The weather was perfect and the participants had a great time on the course and afterwards at the party at the Universal Joint. One of the participants, Richard Jones of Alpharetta posted on Facebook, “What an awesome event! Was absolutely the best marked and managed course I’ve been on. And really enjoyed taking advantage of riding the Specialized Roubaix. I am looking forward to next year!! Plan on FL, GA and NC…”
“The great success of this event, can be attributed to the wonderful volunteers like Lisa Henry and her friends and the members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) who staffed our rest stops,” said Reuben Kline.