‘Kamikaze Bike Games’ rounding into shape


Four-day event will feature ‘Gran Fondos’ on roads, mountain

The band-new Kamikaze Bike Games, a five-day event scheduled for the first week of September, will add several new features to some familiar events.

Apart from bringing back mountain bike racing on Mammoth Mountain for the third time since 2005, the Sept. 4-8 festival this year folds in the stalwart Sept. 7 High Sierra Fall Century road bike ride, with a “Gran Fondo” twist.

A “Gran Fondo” bike ride is the latest craze in big, group-ride events, and is beginning to overtake the fabled “Century” (100-mile) as the favored party on wheels in the U.S. during the warm months.

The name is from Italy, and refers to its “big rides,” frequently in honor of cycling legends or local heroes.

According to Bicycling Magazine, entire towns shut down, wine flows, and thousands of riders pedal over classic mountain passes, through vineyards, and along famous race routes.

In Mammoth, organizers say they are expecting up to 1,000 riders for the Gran Fondo/Century.

What makes a Gran Fondo different than a century is that participants engage in a mass start, and then are timed, turning a mere “ride” into a “race” for those who wish to participate. To ride in the High Sierra, riders can choose whether to test it as a ride or a race.

Also, the Fall Century route will change from a start/finish at the Whitmore Ballfields to a new start/finish at the Village. The change results in pushing the ride from its previous 96 miles to about 102 miles. 

Short course options of 30, 45, and 60 miles are also available for riders of any ability, and these routes include some of the best sections of the longer Gran Fondo and 100 Mile Century bike ride routes.

To keep on the Gran Fondo theme, the mountain bikers take over on Sunday, Sept. 8 with a Gran Fondo of their own, on a course yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, organizers have locked in practice days on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 4-5, with racing beginning on Friday, Sept. 6. The High Sierra Ride/Gran Fondo begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, ending with a post-ride party in the Village in the late afternoon.