Posted by Editoress on 11/18/11
Earlier in the the fall, Canadian Cyclist was invited to attend a 'Gran Allenamento' event put on by Julien Papon at Vitess. We wrote about the Vitess concept earlier this year (see Canadian Cyclist Reviews - February 21/11 17:37 pm - Vitess Builds a Riding Experience), and how much it involves the personal touch. The Ontario-based Gran Allenamento series is an extension of that philosophy. Gran Allenamento, by the way, is Italian for 'Great Workout'.
These one day events (three in 2011) are open to both current and prospective Vitess riders. The supported ride (ride leaders and follow vehicle) takes place on a scenic loop which riders can complete as many times as they wish, stopping for refreshments at the end of each loop. Following the ride, a luncheon is served, massages are available, a yoga session is conducted to stretch out muscles, guest speakers talk on various cycling topics and draws are held for prizes donated by event sponsors. All in all, it is a very enjoyable way to spend a day with other cycling aficionados.
Riders arrive at Alton Mills Arts Centre
The one we attended was in Alton, just south of Orangeville. It was a cold, clear day to start, but that didn't damp the enthusiasm of the roughly 25 participants, who signed in and grabbed an espresso before heading out as a group on the opening 24 kilometre loop. The sun came out mid-morning, warming things up nicely, and the bunch split into smaller groups to do additional laps, according to their level of dedication.
Riders receive pre-ride instructions
Once the riding was over, everyone moved inside to the Alton Mills Arts Centre, to chat about the ride and their passion for cycling. The presence of Lake of Bays Brewing Company, a new Ontario microbrewery with some superb beverages, plus an excellent catered lunch, certainly helped make this an excellent way to wind down the season.
An excellent post-ride lunch
Riders participate in a yoga session
Of course, Julien Papon hopes that these events will translate into more Vitess riders, but this is also very much about building a community of riders. Many of the first timers at the event that we spoke with had found out about it through friends who had participated in one of the earlier rides.
Papon has not finalized plans for next year's series, but says that there will be three one day events in southern Ontario (Niagara, Oakville and Caledon, most likely), a two day event in Quebec, and some of the riders are putting together a European excursion to France for next summer. Papon also says that he intends to expand upon the speaker series, bringing in experts on a variety of cycling skills to talk with participants.
In my review of the Vitess program I concluded: "I think Julien Papon is onto something important: the idea that what you are buying is a riding experience, not a collection of carbon fibre, aluminum and titanium. This, unfortunately, is all too easily forgotten in the rush to the newest high tech, whizz bang technology."
The Gran Allenamento series certainly supports this ideal.
More information about the Gran Allenamento series can be found on the Facebook page: Gran Allenamento Series.
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