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May 30, 2013

June 29 Gran Fondo fast becoming 'destination event'

Attention hardcore cyclists, casual riders, fans of world-class food and drink and supporters of good causes: The inaugural Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Gran Fondo will be held June 29 in Grand Rapids.

The registration rate is $60. Proceeds from the festivities will support skin cancer research at MSU.

Gran Fondos are long-distance, timed, mass-participation cycling events – not races – that are growing in popularity. The term is Italian and translates to “Big Ride.”

The event offers three ride lengths – 12, 40 and 80 miles – with gourmet food stops along each route where riders can relax and refuel. The turnaround point for the 80-mile route is a beach on Lake Michigan.

Following the rides, participants will be treated to live music, microbrews and local cuisine at Gears for Beers, a party at the B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids.

“This will be a great ride on a great course,” said MSU alumnus Robert Hughes from Advantage Benefits Group, an MSU Gran Fondo founding sponsor. “The food stops along the way and the party at the end are going to be off the charts. It will be a destination event, for sure.”

Indeed, the registered riders so far include visitors from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Oregon, Texas and other states, along with participants from East Lansing and surrounding areas, Southeast Michigan and the Grand Rapids area.

Beyond being a great day full of fun, food and friends, the event will fill a real need for investigative skin cancer research by funding pilot studies, said Brian Nickoloff, MSU’s lead investigator for melanoma research.

“Funding for pilot studies will allow us to explore new approaches to overcome drug resistance that is all too common in patients receiving treatment for advanced stages of melanoma,” said Nickoloff, a member of the Stand Up To Cancer dream team. “We can use pilot funding to discover the best ways of combating melanoma when the initial drug stops working and tumors reappear. Ultimately we are looking for ways to give patients and their families in our community better chances of long-term survival and a better quality of life."

Those who don’t wish to participate in the ride are still encouraged to support skin cancer research through fundraising. Event sponsors have donated several prizes – including a new Pinarello bicycle and a five-night Colorado getaway – for top fundraisers. Additionally, MSU Gran Fondo jerseys will be available to all who raise $500 or more.

In addition to the MSU Gran Fondo, Grand Rapids on the same day will host the Herman Miller Brickyard Criterium, a cycling event that includes races for professionals and amateurs.

For more details or to register for the ride, visit and check out the MSU Gran Fondo Facebook, here.

By: Andy McGlashen