Granfondos are going on all over the world. Originating in Italy in 1970, Granfondo roughly translated means “Big Race”, being at least 120 kilometres or more. Now it’s extremely popular in North America, with as many as 200 events a year.
Aldeias do Xisto Lousa
Here in Portugal, Granfondo has been going on for six years and I took part in the sixth edition in Lousã in central Portugal near the city of Coimbra (Granfondo Premium).
The event was started here in Portugal by a very good Portuguese friend of mine, Antonio Queiroz, whose passion for cycling fuelled him to start the first Granfondo in Portugal. He now has another Granfondo in July in the amazing mountain range of Serra da Estrella.
September 10th 2017 was the Aldeias do Xisto and I took part with two clients from Delucci Retreat. The event was faultless, with a great atmosphere and a great mix of riders, from cyclists who were about to embark on their ultimate challenge to riders who were there to ride against the clock and give it everything. An event for everyone.
Extremely well marshalled, regular feed stations, quite smooth roads, with mobile back-up with cars and motorbikes, supplying assistance if needed. A must event for your calendar. It’s also a great way to see the amazing old Portuguese stone villages (Xisto), one of this region’s famous historical treasures, with beautiful villages dotted throughout your ride.
Make sure to check out more photos from the event in the gallery at the bottom of this blog.
Ed Wenlock from the UK, who in fact has previously taken part in Serra da Estrella as well as Aldeias do Xisto, is a passionate cyclist and always searching for new cycling challenges, pushing himself all the time and getting stronger with age. Ed has a great group of training partners, one being Chris Lillywhite, who train together in the Surrey hills all year round, all pushing each other to their limits. This year Ed brought along Stefan, one of his training partners, who has taken part in events all over the world and expressed how much he enjoyed the event.
So let’s not just take my word on this unique event, let’s hear it from Stefan (left on photo) in his own words…
“Having done many different Granfondos across Europe I found “GF Lousã” to be the best I have experienced so far.
“GF Lousã” offers the perfect balance between a difficulty rating and being rewarded with spectacular scenery. The 2017 route started with a controlled rollout from the town which helped the riders to warm up their legs before tackling a punchy 20km climb, which was closed to traffic which I found to be brilliant. All of the climbs were pretty hard, but the riders got rewarded by the amazing scenery on the summits.
The roads were cleared of debris by the local councils the day before the event, this effort ensured safety along the whole course. Having clean roads eliminated all the concerns I had with the fast sweeping descents.
The feeding stations I stopped at were brilliant, they were very well stocked and the staff were incredibly enthusiastic and helpful.
The route was really well sign posted, even though I spent the entire ride on my own, there was no question whether I was on course or not. There were marshals at critical points on the course warning the riders of potential hazards.
The last section from the top of the “windmills” (which is the last classified climb) to the finish was my favorite. It offered a fantastic display of the region’s scenery and an exhilarating descent back into Lousã.
At the finish line they offered complimentary beer (which always goes down well for cyclists) and a pasta bar. The finishing results for the participators was immediately available on the event’s website, which I found to be refreshing as other events would have you waiting for a couple of days for the results.
Overall this experience has left me with a very memorable experience. I will definitely be back and I hope to share this experience with my friends.”
So there you have it! All you got to do is come and do it…………..