iGranFondo Course Preview

  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/ps2o8597dsgw/public_html/includes/file.inc on line 644.

Posted 7/17/12- Written by: Robert "Bob" Greigg, Site Admin.

The City of Sioux City has organized the first-ever Gran Fondo in Iowa and is promoting it as a kickoff event before Ragbrai 40 which begins in Sioux Center this year. The city plans to make this an annual event with the start point always being Sioux City and finishing where each subsequent year's Ragbrai will begin. Information for the iGranFondo can be found here. This is a USA Cycling permited race. If you don't want the jersey, the entry fee is $35.00. If you have questions about the Fondos please contact Aran Rush at arush@sioux-city.org.

I'm a native and long-time roadie. I decided to write this so visiting racers will know what to expect on the 100+ mile route. I rode half the course Saturday and the other half Sunday. The most favorable wind direction will be from the southwest so let's all do a wind dance and meditate on it, or whatever.

The start is at Riverside Park. Hopefully, Porta Johns will be provided (there is a Casey's a block away). There's no need to warm up. The first handful of miles (Riverside Blvd. then Highway 12 to Stone Park) including the loop in the park will be neutralized until the real start near the city limit sign (so I'm told). If you're still sleepy, the steep climb to the top of the park will wake up your legs and expand your lungs, guaranteed. Use caution on the descent because the blacktop road is narrow, bumpy and it'll be somewhat dark in there from tree cover. There's a one-lane bridge plus an 'S' turn too. Again, don't be in a hurry because we're neutral until we're back on Hwy 12.

On Hwy 12, we head north for 15 miles until the turn just before Westfield. The road is mostly flat until then with only a couple of small hills in between. The black top is okay but there are rumbles on the white line the whole way to Westfield.

It finally starts to get real as soon as we turn onto C38. The first hill is a long 2-step but it's not steep. After that it's a lot of medium-size rollers. When you see the cell tower in the distance (about 7 miles away) you'll know where we're headed. After the rollers there's a 2+ mile flat section before the road rises again starting at the cemetery and continues mostly upward until the corner at K22.

At the cell tower, we turn on K22 and head south back to Sioux City (13 miles). After the turn, there's a couple small bumps to the hilltop church. Here, there's a big descent then it's mostly on a downhill trend all the way back to the city limits. Be alert on K22. I've found the local drivers on this stretch not to be very friendly to cyclists.

After passing Mike's Saloon, the pavement on Hamilton Blvd. is patched, bumpy and there's a wheel-trapper crack that runs down the lane center for quite a ways. Before the McDonald's, we turn west onto Stone Park Blvd. and head back toward Stone Park. Enjoy whatever shade you experience here because that'll be it for the rest of the ride.

At the fork in the road before the entrance to Stone Park, it starts to get real again on the first hill (right turn). It's not long but it'll probably put a sting into your legs. The descent afterward is narrow, long, patched and bumpy. Be careful. There will be some flat road before we start going up again. There are three good hills along here but they are each followed by long downhill respites. The last one takes us back to Hwy 12 for a deja vu moment. If you're soft and want to bail out here, you can head back to Riverside Park to lick your wounds. The rest will continue on Hwy 12 briefly then turn right on K18.

For a few miles the road is pretty flat again, save for a few risers, until the hills pop up again just before we reach the C38/K18 intersection (deja vu all over again). The last official aid station is here. Better fill up because this will be the last place to take anything on board until Hawarden. We'll be on K18 heading north until we make the last turn to Sioux Center. This stretch after the C38 intersection doesn't show up on road maps or Google but trust me, it's there. We reach a course high point along here then it becomes more downhill overall for a several miles.

After crossing Hwy 3, the surface becomes a beautifully smooth blacktop carpet all the way to Hawarden. It'll be a pleasure riding on it.

Hawarden is the last chance to find any water. K18 skirts the edge of town. You're 20 miles from Sioux Center at this point. I'd suggest stopping to reload here because the rest of the way won't be easy with high humidity, temps around 90 by this time and 80+ miles in the legs. If you're low on water now, it won't be fun to hit the wall within 10 miles of Sioux Center if you've bypassed a chance to stop. I rode into Hawarden for a mile and found a small gas station. Go another 1/2 mile and there's a Casey's and a Kum-n-Go.

Once past Hawarden the blacktop is still pretty nice. It still feels more down than up until we reach the bright red metal barn. Here begins a steep descent into the river valley and then a flat stretch for a couple miles. As we know, if you ride into a river valley you'll probably be riding out of it again. At the intersection of K18 and B40 the road turns up again and it'll put a hit on your legs. It may be a 2-step hill if I recall correctly.

After clearing the hill, the road becomes a lot of little rises and dips the rest of the way into Sioux Center (it feels a bit more up than down along here). There's a stretch of very rough grinded-up blacktop right in the middle of the lane that goes on for a short time. If the wind is from the side it could be a hard stretch since we've had many miles in the legs by then and it'll be hot.

At the abandoned block building (you won't miss it) it's 10 or so miles to the city limits. There's some new blacktop starting just before the water towers (sign says it's 6 miles to town around this point). We continue until the route map ends at the very small "Westside Park" (you'll see some colorful playground equipment there on the right) and we're now in a residential neighborhood.

However, the finish line, according to the event website, is "behind the (Centre) Mall." If so, then we'll turn right (south) somewhere along here (perhaps we turn at the park- but I'm guessing). It'll be perhaps a mile to the Centre Mall from wherever we turn. Hopefully, it'll be well marked.

I'll be surprised if there's a bunch finish. I think a "Hard Man" could win solo or there will be a small group together at the end. With favorable winds I think an average speed around 23 mph is likely for the winner. I hope this preview has been helpful. Be safe, have fun.

Welcome to Northwest Iowa.