With summer on your doorstep, it’s time to get out on your bike and explore some scenic, bike friendly roads in our area. While you can always go out for a spin on backroads by yourself, gran fondos offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy these roads with other riders. Fondos are mass participation cycling events that have enjoyed incredible popularity in Europe for decades and are beginning to gain momentum in our area as well. Dirt fondos or “gravel grinders” are also becoming a popular form of these events. With fondos, you can make it a pseudo race or a fun ride with your friends. It’s both a cycling event and a cultural cycling experience with post ride celebrations and rider camaraderie being two important characteristics of these events. Many cyclists ride for the reward of just making it to the finish line, while others simply want to test their limits and challenge their friends. Here are two regional gran fondos to put on your calendar this summer.

Jedermann Gran Fondo Bike Ride and 12 Hr. Road Challenge (July 25)

In its fourth year, the Jedermann, or as some call it “everyone’s great ride,” offers distance options of 30, 66 and 100 miles. This year EMDE Sports has also added a 12 Hr. Challenge for both individuals and teams. The start and finish of the JGF is in cycling-friendly Cheney, Wash. The ride is 100% asphalt, so a road machine is going to be your optimal choice. Post-ride food provided by Zentropa Pizza and the EMDE Sports free pancake breakfast are part of the fun. Participants can enjoy complimentary pint glasses, a beer garden, live music, and t-shirts at the end of the race with custom medals for all 100-mile and 12 Hr. Challenge riders. These roads are awesome for cycling and relatively traffic free. Starting (and finishing) in Cheney allows you to visit roads that are further west and less frequently ridden, passing through the communities of Sprague, Harrington, Edwall and Cheney. The 12 Hr. Challenge offers both individuals and two or four person teams the chance to challenge themselves for a bit longer haul. More info: Emdesports.com.

Coeur d’Fondo (September 2015)

Experience beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene and the forest, roads and scenery along Idaho’s Scenic Byway with the company and energy of a community of riders. The route continues along Highway 97, passing through the towns of Harrison and St. Maries before finishing back in Coeur d’Alene at the fall Oktoberfest in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Distances include the Gran Fondo (108 miles), Medio Fondo (84 miles), Centro Fondo (47 miles, comes with a cruise aboard the Mish-an-Nock from Coeur d’Alene to the ride start at Harrison), Piccolo Fondo (37 miles, including a cruise on the Mish-an-Nock back to Oktoberfest in Coeur d’Alene after riding to Harrison), and the Family Fun Ride (15 miles). Coeur d’ Fondo is a fundraiser for the Centennial Trail Foundation, a nonprofit organization that uses all funding for the continued maintenance and expansion of the North Idaho Centennial Trail. Cdagranfondo.com. //