LeMond Preps for Hood River Dirt Fondo

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LeMond, of course, was the center of attention. ©Cyclocross Magazine

LeMond, of course, was the center of attention. ©Cyclocross Magazine

Greg LeMond made a showing at West End Bikes in Portland, Oregon, tonight for the packet pick-up party for this weekend’s Echelon Gran Fondo in Hood River. The event features plenty of ride options both on and off-road, LeMond’s here for the Cyclocross Magazine CrossMountain dirt fondo, which mixes pavement with dirt double track and even some non-technical singletrack options.

CXM contributors Seth Hosmer and Robbie Carver flank Echelon executive director Hunter Ziesing ©Cyclocross Magazine

CXM contributors Seth Hosmer and Robbie Carver flank Echelon executive director Hunter Ziesing ©Cyclocross Magazine

“I love cyclocross, and it’s getting huge in this country,” LeMond told us tonight. “It’s a great blend of Elite racing and grassroots participation, much like this weekend’s gran fondo and the other events that Echelon is putting together.” If you read Issue 11 of our magazine, you know that LeMond loves both riding around his backyard in a Bobcat sculpting out his own personal ’cross course, and getting out there to ride it with his son and local cyclocrossers. “The course is in great shape – I keep wanting to get out there on the Bobcat and make bermed turns and really customize it, but it’s riding great,” he said. “As for me – I’m not in such great shape right now. But I’m working on it, I’m just coming off a down period. It’s been 10 years on, 10 years off … so I think I’m about ready to start the next 10 years on!”

If you can make it to Hood River this weekend, come join LeMond and several of the folks from Cyclocross Magazine for a great day of mixed terrain riding, fantastic gourmet food, bands, beverages and some of the coolest riding in the country. And the three CXM contributors going to the ride are all racing on Sunday at the Battle of Barlow — so if that’s your excuse and any of us still beat your “fresh legs,” well that’s a double defeat for sure.

About the Ride:
The September 24th CrossMountain ride mixes paved road, singletrack and dirt forest roads in the stunning Columbia River Gorge of Hood River, with Mount Hood constantly looming as a spectacular backdrop. Although Echelon promotes several gran fondo events around the country, this marks the organization’s first foray off-road. There are 30 and 45-mile CrossMountain routes perfectly suited to cyclocross or mountain bikes, as well as several paved route options. All of the various rides roll out together, and complete nine miles before the CrossMountain riders turn off onto the dirt for the real fun.

The Mission – and Perhaps More Dirt Fondos
The Hood River ride is one of six gran fondos that Echelon hosts; the others take place in Tucson, Seattle, Fort Collins, Palo Alto and Napa. Depending on its popularity, other venues will likely follow suit with CrossMountain options in 2012 – something we at Cyclocross Magazine would love to see.

I recently met with Hunter Zeising, the executive director of Echelon Gran Fondo, to talk about the company’s rides and vision. He sees cycling as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and his gran fondo series as the ideal vehicle to get more people on bikes. The charities Echelon supports echo that ethic, with funds raised going towards cancer nonprofits local to each event as well as national in scope, with prevention often a specific target. Zeising hopes to improve each community that the Echelon Gran Fondos visit; for example, the Hood River event will benefit the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon’s top cancer research center, the Historic Columbia River Highway, as well as several new “Charities of Choice.”

What: Echelon CrossMountain Gran Fondo
Sept. 24th, 2011
Hood River, Oregon
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