By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It seems like the dust has hardly settled on this year’s King Ridge Granfondo and the organizers are already preparing for next year.
Registration opens at 9 a.m. on Jan. 17 for the ride, which will be held on Sept. 29.
Next year’s ride, the fourth edition of the brainchild of professional racer Levi Leipheimer, will be much like this past year.
There will be 7,500 spots, the same as last year, with 4,000 for the 103-mile granfondo, 2,500 for the 65-mile medio fondo and 1,000 for the 35-mile piccolo ride.
See photos from 2011’s ride.
Organizers also say they’ve solved the problems that caused the meltdown of the computerized registration system last year. It was overloaded by riders trying to secure a spot in the granfondo, which sold out in four days.
The fees, $135, $115 and $75, may be raised slightly to cover increased costs, but organizer Greg Fisher of Bike Monkey said it wouldn’t be much.
The routes will be the same, with the granfondo using the King Ridge and Seaview roads that are the heart and soul of the challenging ride.
There will again be the option for the granfondo and medio riders to take Willow Creek Road back towards Occidental for a taste of Sonoma County dirt, rather than the steeper Coleman Valley Road, Fisher said.
The granfondo raised $200,000 this year, primarily to support the Forget Me Not Farm, Livestrong cancer research and the cost to Santa Rosa of hosting the Tour of California.
Leipheimer’s non-profit, VeloStreet, which owns the ride, is also offering to match as much as $15,000 in donations to Sonoma County Parks and Recreation’s effort to share the management of Annadel State Park, keeping the park open in the face of state budget cuts.
Fisher said they also will be putting up some signs on the most popular rural roads to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists and warn cyclists about the local traffic, including trucks and farm machinery.
It is also meant to let cyclists know about the remote conditions they will encounter; specifically, in Fisher’s words, “the weekend warrior from Los Gatos who shows up on King Ridge with one water bottle and a candy bar.”
The first signs will likely go up on King Ridge. Sonoma County is a great place to ride, and Fisher expects to run out of signs long before they run out of roads to put them on.
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.