Imagine you’re a professional athlete looking for a way to raise some money for a cause you believe in. The options are often as numerous as your Twitter followers. You can start a foundation, host a golf tournament, maybe throw in a silent auction for good measure.
Or if you’re a pro cyclist, you could have some real fun with it and call some of your riding buddies, a couple of sponsors and 3,500 total strangers and go for a ride.
That’s what Levi Leipheimer decided to do as a way to raise money to allow his hometown of Santa Rosa to continue hosting a stage of the Tour of California, something the city has been fortunate enough to do every year since the race’s inception in 2006.
The event is called a gran fondo; roughly translated from Italian it means big ride. It’s not a race, but rather a group ride in which the participants, often numbering into the thousands, are fully supported: a closed route on public roads; regular rest stops with food and drink; mechanics available to fix any bike malady and a medical team to fix any body malady.
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Thousands gear up for Levi Leipheimer’s fundraising ride