PASADENA — With due deference to Ferraris, cappuccinos and pizza, the city of Pasadena embraced one of Italy’s most famous exports Tuesday morning at city hall.
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and fellow city dignitaries joined Italian Consul General Giuseppe Perrone and Italian Trade Commissioner Carlo Bocchi at a press conference to welcome the first-ever American version of the Gran Fondo Giro D’Italia bicycle exposition and ride taking place in Pasadena on July 21-22.
The Gran Fondo Giro D’Italia is a two-day race and celebration where amateur cyclists and fans can take part in one of three different round trip rides from Pasadena to Los Angeles and also enjoy an Italian-themed festival.
The ride is open to the public and will be broken up into different lengths depending upon skill, starting with 24 miles and continuing with distances of 60 and 80 miles.
In the event, the ride begins at city hall with routes that include local scenery such as Old Town Pasadena, the Colorado Street Bridge and the Rose Bowl.
“The Giro D’Italia is something that is very dear to the heart of all Italians,” Perrone said. “It’s a race that’s a century old basically if not more than a century old actually. It’s very much inscribed in the memory of all Italians.”
Gran Fondo technical director Sabra Nagel proved instrumental in bringing the world’s second-largest bicycling event to Pasadena when she first phoned city officials with the idea in March.
“We contacted the city and asked about the event and they welcomed me with open arms,” Nagel said. “I called and said I wanted to do a bicycle event in Pasadena and they went crazy and said ‘tell me more,’ which was great.”
From there, Nagel worked with city officials, including Michael Ross, CEO of the Pasadena Visitor Bureau, in securing the first American exhibition. A second ride is scheduled from Miami to Coral Gables in November.
Bocchi, who spoke about the economic strength of the Italian cycling industry, said that the Giro connected with average Italians on a level that transcends sports.
“This is not just an...event. It is a presentation of something that we do and that we feel,” Bocchi said, “that we studied years to do [beginning] with the first bicycle invented by Leonardo Da Vinci.”
The spirit of the Giro, one of three big races in the world of cycling along with the Tour De France and the Vuelta a España, brought out some interested area bikers, including Altadena resident Kimball Johnson, who rode from in from Stan’s Monrovia Bikes Bike Shop.
“This is going to be one of the neatest things to happen to this area in a while for the Italians to bring this function to our city,” said Johnson, who cruised in on his 2005 Eddy Merckx Elite bike. “This is going to draw a lot of riders to the San Gabriel Valley area and I think they’re going to have a wonderful turnout.”
Those interested in participating can go to www.granfondogiroditalia.com or www.gfgiro.com for more information.