Frequently Asked Questions

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When is Levi’s GranFondo?

Panzer route questions?

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What do I get for my entry?

Each entrant will receive the following:

  • An unforgettable experience from a grand day on the bike with Levi Leipheimer, his pro buddies, and thousands of your new friends.
  • A fully timed course with a dirt option for those who like a little dust on the bottom bracket shell
  • Partial road closures on the first 25 miles and traffic control afterwards
  • A series of fully staffed and stocked rest stops with amazing food and friendly service
  • A GranFondo gift musette bag at registration, including a GranFondo Rider Manual
  • A Levi’s GranFondo commemorative t-shirt
  • A hot shower after your ride
  • A lovingly crafted post-ride meal from any one of our multiple local food vendors
  • The exceptional post-ride FondoSonoma Festival with music and great entertainment

Is my entry fee tax-deductible?

No, your entry fee is not tax-deductible. You receive a service, a meal, and lots of other goodies in exchange for it. Additional donations to our beneficiaries via our fundraising program however, are most certainly tax-deductible.

What time does the ride start? For all routes?

The ride starts at 8AM for all routes.

What’s packet pickup?

Packet pickup is when you show up in person at the Finley Center to get your rider packet, your t-shirt and your swag bag. You must do this in person. No one else can do it for you. We will repeat this several times, but there is no other option. You must sign a waiver and the ride rules.  We’ll have bike industry exhibitors onsite and our GranFondo merchandise booth will be in full swing. And yes, we make Levi do this too. No exceptions!

Packet Pickup Times
We strongly recommend you pick your packet up Friday to avoid the Saturday morning rush.  And by strongly, we mean that we wouldn’t do it the other way if it was us. C’mon. 6:00 in the morning?

What is a Mass Start?

We go forward together. Simply put, that’s a core component of our gran fondo. The mass start is a challenge for some cyclists, and why not? It’s 7,500 people all moving forward at once. Quarters are tight. Excitement is high. But we’re all a part of one big day on the bike and that means we all begin as one group, even as we sort our own paces out for the rest of the day. Being in a peloton this large is a rare opportunity, one not even enjoyed at the professional level. You get to  move along the full width and breadth of the road for the first part of the ride, riding in concert with 7499 other individuals as one big flowing organism. It’s a hell of a spectacle and very exciting both within and from the sidelines.

We send out several messages about how to self-stage in the months leading up to the GranFondo. It’s important for people to understand at what spot in the mass start their preferred pace and athletic ability should be. We’ll have signs indicating where riders of certain paces and route lengths should place themselves. We’ll encourage you to stage further back than you think: it’s far more prudent to plan for a slower start pace than to plan to charge out of the gate on a 103 (or 65, or even a 32) mile ride. In the end though, we trust that you’ll have the judgement to ride responsibly all day long, beginning with where you line up to start.

Many century rides stagger start or let you go within a window of a couple of hours. A gran fondo is not a century ride. Many of the operations (timing, professional cyclist presence, course, pageantry, etc.) are specifically different. It’s a big day. It’s designed to bring out your best by pushing you to excel. It’s a challenge and it’s one we all undertake starting on even ground at one time. We go forward together.

Is the event timed?

YES – Participants will be given a timing chip that attaches to their bike that records how long it takes them to complete the course.

Are there cutoff times? / Is there a time limit?

YES. There are cutoff times to ensure your safety. We have found it mandatory to enforce cutoff times simply due to a lack of available daylight hours in the fall. You will have until 6:00pm to complete the entire route. It takes approximately 30 minutes for the riders in the back of the staging area to cross the start line. Because of this, all riders will have between 9.5 and 10 hours to complete any given course and still have their time recorded.

  • The 11:00AM Gran route cutoff: If you have not made it to downtown Cazadero by 11:00AM, CHP will direct you to the left of the intersection at King Ridge Road and up an alternate climb on Fort Ross Road. You will reach the ridgeline adjacent to the Ritchey Ranch rest stop where you can fuel up just before the steep descent back down to the coast. Fort Ross Road is a beautiful ride with tough climbs and lovely descents, but it’s not as long or difficult as King Ridge.
  • The 6:00PM course closure: The course is officially CLOSED at 6:00pm, at which time we stop recording finishers and start the work of tearing down the FondoSonoma Festival. You will not be recorded as having finished the event, but we will make sure to keep some food and beer around for those of you rolling in that late. We don’t want you going home without at least some reward for your efforts. Like the Fat Cyclist/Elden Nelson, Fondo Comrade Numbero Uno, says, “I always take the medium-distance course as fast as I possibly can to get to the finish line early, where I hang out and have time to talk with everyone as they cross the line.” Guy’s a prince. You can be too, with just a bit of planning…or training.

Why is there a cutoff?

The mandatory cutoff for the Gran route is above all, a safety issue. Having riders out on the course, far from the finish, at sunset is not only a visibility issue, but also one of fatigue and discomfort for the rider. Beyond the safety issue, we hope to provide an enjoyable GranFondo experience which includes not only a fun, challenging day on their bike, but also taking in our post-ride FondoSonoma Festival, having a meal and/or a beer with new friends, and not struggling through a prohibitively difficult ride for the entirety of daylight hours.

Additionally, we need to be respectful of hundreds of on-course volunteers whose hard work makes the GranFondo a success and, by not structuring time limits for this route, we’d be asking them to spend sunrise to well past sundown in remote areas of the county for the whole of the event. With volunteers in positions like this, it makes it difficult to operate an event that provides a high standard of safety and enjoyment for all. By implementing a cutoff in the earlier part of the day, we hope to salvage a good ride for participants that would otherwise spend their day struggling to complete the Gran route, or worse, injure themselves or others in the process.

For those of you who would argue that it’s not the distance that makes the cutoff challenging, but the mass start and subsequent negotiation through riders, we all recognize that staging is a component of Levi’s GranFondo that requires constant reexamination and improvement on everyone’s part. Working with thousands of people in order to get them perfectly sorted according to ability and route on a ride many have never done is indeed a challenge, but, based on rider feedback, it’s getting better every year as more and more people come to understand where they should line up in a group this size. We remain committed to the pageantry, excitement, and broad unity of a mass start. It is a vital component of a gran fondo/sportive event and is one of the major differences between this ride format and that of a more common century ride.

Can I ride a shorter route than the one for which I registered?

Yes. We can’t allow riders to ride a longer route than they are registered. However, we will allow riders to “ride down” to a shorter route without having to pay a transfer fee. Register for the Gran, 103 mile route and not train enough? It’s fine with us to ride the Medio. It is a spectacular route. Likewise, a Medio registered rider can ride down to the Piccolo.

If you know in advance that you want to swap or transfer your spot, see our Refunds and Transfers page.

Can I ride a longer route than the one for which I registered?

Not a longer one, no.

The cost associated with riding the GranFondo is much more than just the cost of food along the route, and for this reason “poaching” is not allowed and even monitored.

There is a significant investment made in services related to safety. Things like motorcycle marshal escorts, on-bike marshals, CHP, police, fire, and emergency communications, protocol and SAG support are just some of the things Bike Monkey takes on to produce the event to a high standard of safety. These are things that participants pay for when they sign up for the event.

As event promoters, we must also show respect for the rural communities through which we travel. This means having control over the number of participants at any given time or place so we can communicate the impact and allow ourselves and local, working residents to plan appropriately.

All rider number plates and bibs are color-coded to route. People identified by course marshals to be riding a longer route than the one for which they registered will be asked not to return next year. This is done as a matter of safety, not exclusivity and certainly not as punishment. As the event matures we hope to offer more people the opportunity to ride its longer routes. However, we are testing the limits of mass-participation cycling events and participants who understand and appreciate this effort will help us to ensure that the GranFondo lives on for many successful years.

Is there a waiting list?

We do not have a waiting list for any of our three routes. Transfers begin on July 1, so we recommend checking our Facebook page for people needing to sell their ride. Don’t fret, with 4,000 riders riding our grandest route, there are usually plenty of people who change their plans.

But wait .. there’s one more way to get a ticket for any of the three routes: fundraise $1,000 and receive a free entry and a bunch of other swag. See www.levisgranfondo.com/fundraise/incentives for details.

Also see our Refunds and Transfers page for the details about picking up a transfer.

Are there refunds, deferrals, or transfers?

THERE ARE NO REFUNDS OR DEFERRALS TO FOLLOWING YEARS.

There are transfers, however (whew!).  There will a be transfer fee, depending on how close to the GranFondo the transfer happens.  The transfer period begins around mid-summer and closes about a week before the GranFondo event date.

Refer to our Refunds and Transfer Policy for more details.

Are there age limits?

Any minor under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a legal guardian. The legal guardian must be present to sign for their minor and must agree to accompany them during the ride.

What type of bike may I ride in the GranFondo?

At Levi’s GranFondo, safety must reign supreme. We need to know that everyone is operating at the same level of visibility and maneuverability as a pack of thousands move forward at speed, shoulder-to-shoulder with each other. Velomobiles, trikes, and non-two-wheeled recumbents represent a departure from this standard and for this reason, we can’t allow them. Mountain bikes and two-wheeled recumbents are generally not a problem. Anything outside of what we’ve mentioned here is strictly not allowed. We need everyone at their best, both in the way they operate their own bikes and in the way they interact with other cyclists. That’s hard enough with everyone on traditional 2-wheeled bikes; on different designs, it’s even tougher to predict and there’s our safety risk.

And aero bars? We DO NOT recommend these for boatloads of reasons, not the least of which is that they just won’t be helpful to you on a course like this. Using them on the flatter stretches in the pack is touchy at best and dangerous at worst, not to mention redundant when riding with 7499 other cyclists breaking the wind for you.

Non-standard wheel sizes also present a big risk as these roads are, at times, chock-full of cracks or potholes and anything smaller than what we’ve normally planned for can present a risk to you and those around you. Potholes and irregularities introduced by Sonoma County’s dynamic, earthquake-prone (i.e. mobile) landscape have a much easier time taking down somebody with smaller wheels. Be aware of this.

Are trailers and bike seats allowed?

No. Due to the safely concerns of riding in a large group of people, trailers and bike seats will not be allowed. Trail-a-bikes, however, are allowed and will be charged as a tandem.

Do you have any suggestions about bike rentals?

Yep. Our pals at NorCal Bike Sport have a fleet of Specialized bikes and would love to reserve one for you. Be warned: they’re going to go fast.

What happens if it rains during the GranFondo?

You’ll probably get wet. Ride accordingly.

While we have had mostly good weather for the Fondo, it is possible to see some rain this time of year. The ride goes on. As we’ve said many times, plan for anything, as even a good day starts with early morning fog, with some heat on the hills, followed by cool, coastal winds, then probably some more heat. Layers, people. Layers.

Who is this ride for anyway?

It is for EVERYBODY. For professional cyclists, this is an opportunity to stretch your legs in an event that fosters competition in a relaxed environment. Timed course? Check. Epic terrain? Check. Peloton dynamics? Check. The pressure of a hundred television cameras, roaring crowds, and a director sportif yelling in your ear? No, not really. Let this represent a return to your love of cycling: epic landscapes, grueling terrain, and rich camaraderie with your peers. Take some time out from your race schedule to experience the best professional cycling has to offer to the best professional cyclists.

For recreational cyclists, this is your chance to ride with some giants along a route long celebrated for its intensity and beauty. While the way is long and steep, there is fixed and roving support, including repairs, food, and water. If you’ve long wanted to roll along the elegant coastal hills of Sonoma County, you won’t get a better chance than this. This is an athletic and personal achievement you’ll be proud to trumpet to your kids, your dog, or anyone who will hold still long enough.

Are there exchanges for merchandise?

We want you to be totally satisfied.

Pre-ordered jerseys and other clothing items are exchangeable as long as they have not been worn. You can either return them by mail and pay a small amount to cover return postage, or exchange them at the event. Exchanges are limited to stock on hand. There are no refunds.

Please contact us at levisgranfondo@bikemonkey.net so we can calculate the return postage amount. We will need to know what it is that you will be exchanging and where it is going.

Capo Clothing Sizing

We love Capo riding gear and we hope you do too. To be sure you order the correct size, please refer to our handy sizing chart. These togs come all the way from Italy, so take the three minutes to get the measurements right and check the chart. Seriously, you’re going to be spending some major quality time in these threads, so you might as well feel (and look) amazing. Check the chart. Then check it again.

What about hotels / lodging?

We have great lodging options, from the deluxe to the spartan. See our Getting Here page for more information. Do remember that there are more people in the GranFondo than there are beds in Santa Rosa. Book it early or you’re sleeping with the goats at Forget Me Not Farm.

Is there RV overnight parking or camping available?

No, unfortunately, we are not set up for overnight RV parking or camping. We recommend you check the following links to find a spot near Santa Rosa:

Woodall’s RV Camping Guide

Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors’ Bureau RV Guide

STILL have questions?

Contact the Levi’s GranFondo Virtual Informa-Kiosk-a-Booth at Bike Monkey. Send us an e-mail over at levisgranfondo@bikemonkey.net.