While Greg LeMond makes plans to ride on the road in the Palo Alto Gran Fondo, we’re excited about the dirt option at the Echelon Gran Fondo in Oregon the weekend after. Cyclocross Magazine and the Echelon Gran Fondo have a contest running where you can win a free entry, so if you’re in the Oregon area, or will be September 24th, sign up now!

At just age 18, American bike racing legend Greg LeMond began his bike racing career in Palo Alto, California. He went on to become the first American to win the Tour de France in 1986, again in 1989, and 1990. Lemond is back to his roots this September 17, 2011 to ride in the Echelon Palo Alto Gran Fondo.

Greg LeMond will ride the Palo Alto Echelon Gran Fondo, a day-long event including distance cycling rides (65, 80 and 95 miles) as well as a new twist, The Echelon Challenge, a festive lapathon around town for walkers, joggers, striders, and riders. Lemond will lead out rides at 8 AM alongside Palo Alto’s mayor and cycling advocate Sidney Espinosa. Earlier this year, Mayor Espinosa announced that 2011 is the “Year of the Bike” in Palo Alto, as evidenced by the introduction of several new bike-share programs, increasing bike parking and signage throughout the city, and promoting a Safe-Routes-to-School program.

“What could be better than to have Greg LeMond join us,” said Hunter Ziesing, Echelon’s executive director. “He is not only an American cycling legend but he is very philanthropic, overcame many obstacles in his own life and is thus supportive of our new Charity of Choice platform.” Though fundraising is not required, Echelon recently announced its new platform where participants can submit charities of their own or choose from an array of existing ones to support through fundraising. LeMond also a founding board member of 1in6 foundation, ‘a great foundation for a difficult subject’ as Greg puts it,” Ziesing said. “He is also passionate about promoting exercise as a means to reduce obesity, diabetes and overall heath, and cycling is one of the best ways to achieve this.”

“I am really excited to do the event in Palo Alto. I have a long history with the city that goes back to when I started racing,” said LeMond. “Palo Alto Cycles and Avocet were among my first sponsors back in 1979. My first four years of racing were here in the San Francisco bay area and the Palo Alto area is one of the best riding areas in the country”.

“I also am pleased to have my company, LeMond Fitness, involved with Echelon by incorporating products into awards. We make the best indoor bike trainers on the market and hopefully some of the participants will have the chance to win one by having ridden their personal best on the Tunitas Creek Climb.”