Photo by Erik Kellar

We couldn’t miss the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia last weekend. 
The event kicked-off on Saturday with an Expo at Miami City Hall, showcasing mostly Italian cycling brands and products plus a few local vendors. The actual ride took place on Sunday morning, with three routes to choose from (short, medium, long).  The ride started on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and went as far southwest as Florida City (long route), traversing through Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, and the vast agricultural areas of South Florida . There were many professional cyclists, including world champion Mario Cipollini (Super Mario), along with Danilo Di Luca (Giro d’Italia in 2007), Filippo Pozzato, George Hincapie, and Liz Hatch. Even Italian Formula One racing driver Jarno Trulli participated in the ride.

It was a fun ride and I found the challenge of trying to stay with the front pack exhilarating, though I think police escort could definitely be improved in the future particularly while crossing busy intersections like US1 around Naranja. We faced a few unexpected obstacles along the way which made the ride reminiscent of cyclocross and I didn't necessarily mind that. For example, when we approached Deering Estate (mile 17) the gates remained closed forcing everyone to dismount off their bikes and go under the gates twice. While fun and sporadic, it put the group of cyclists in a dangerous situation because the large fast paced group had to come to two complete stops. We also rode on a dirt road along SW 248th St (Coconut Palm Dr) for a short while due to construction. Overall it was a wonderful showcase of the Magic City to an international crowd of cyclists and the vibe was great, plus a lot of locals were able to meet and ride with a few cycling legends.

My personal highlight of the event was actually alerted to me via social media when Italian pro cyclist Pippo Pozzato tweeted a photo he took during the 100 mile ride which just happened to be of yours truly. I don't know Italian but the "thumbs up" and "hand clap" icons let me rest assure it was showing praise and something to be proud of.

The organizers have announced ambitious expansion plans in 2013 with events at the Sea Otter Classic (California, 4/20); New York (Five Boro, 5/5); Pasadena (6/2); Beverly Hills in October; and finally Miami on November 10th. With so many stages in the Golden State, it makes you wonder if they're planning a Giro of California?

Visit Erik Kellar Photography for over 140 images from the event.