More than 100 bikers flocked to the streets of Cottage Grove on Sunday, May 21 to take part in the "mass start event" held each year.
This year's event was MC'ed by former Tour de France rider Levi Leipheimer who jumped off the sideline with the riders but due to an injury, is pausing his professional career. In 2009, Leipheimer started his own Gran Fondo, which translates to "big ride" in Italian, in California.
Before riders were asked to roll to the start line just before 8 a.m., they were given a strict warning: there is an injury every year. There's a hairpin turn that, if a car is climbing the turn at the same time, will kill you. A point to the medic tent, an instruction to have fun, and the riders were off.
Escorted a few miles from down by Cottage Grove Police, the riders set off for the 177-mile ride that would take approximately six hours to finish. Riders who did not wish to complete the entire course were given the option of riding 71 miles and receiving a new bib that read "Have a nice day."
With no spectator opportunities along the route, a sizeable crowd for 8 a.m. on a Sunday turned out to cheer on riders on Main St. where they started just short of city hall.