On June 22, more than 2,000 cyclists rode through scenic West Michigan for the seventh annual MSU Gran Fondo, a timed, non-competitive event, that has raised more than $1 million toward skin cancer awareness, prevention and research within the College of Human Medicine.
Italian for “big ride,” people of all ages and skill levels participated in the 12-mile Family Ride or longer distances on the 25, 40 or 80 routes. Some participants were avid cyclists with a passion for these types of “mass-start” events, while others rode to honor a loved one or recognize their own battle with skin cancer.
All routes started and finished in downtown Grand Rapids with the longest route’s halfway point at Lake Michigan. Riders enjoyed superfood stops along the route and celebrated at the Finish Line Festival with live music, craft brews and a grand feast.
The nationally recognized cycling event has drawn participants of all ages from 20 states – some as far as Washington, Texas, New York and North Carolina – and even Thailand!
Three athletes were special guests this year: Christian Vande Velde, five-time Tour de France veteran and NBC Sports commentator; Brent Bookwalter, Michigan native and pro cyclist; and Kikkan Randall, World Champion skier, gold medalist and cancer survivor.
Since the event began, the MSU Gran Fondo continues to be a significant contributor to groundbreaking discoveries and offers hope to the 70,000 Americans expected to be diagnosed with skin cancer each year.