Foco Fondo: Putting the community in the gravel and the gravel in the community

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This weekend offers an abundance of bike racing, from the end of the men’s Tour de France to the start of the women’s (!) to the US national mountain bike championships in Colorado to the gravel race The Rift in Iceland.

On Sunday in the college town of Fort Collins, Colorado, an entirely different kind of cycling event is taking place, one that truly unites cyclists and the local community.

The FoCo Fondo, presented by Bike Sports, returns to Fort Collins for the seventh year on Sunday. Year after year, event owners Zach and Whitney Allison have continued to build on the event’s strong ties to the local community, while encouraging all riders to come and play.

A scene from FoCo Fondo 2021

While the Allisons are both professional racing cyclists in their own right, the sharp end of the race is just a mere footnote in the weekend of events. In fact, Whitney Allison says celebrating bikes and their impact on people and communities is the real headline act of FoCo Fondo.

“Bikes are so intersectional that you can use them for transportation, exercise, and/or adventure,” she says. “Between my own bike racing and being on the City of Fort Collins Bike Advisory Board, you really get exposed to the full gamut of bike riding and it really makes you see them in a different light and beyond. beyond your own experience.

“FoCo Fondo still has a lot of aspects to support those looking to compete against others or time, but ultimately it’s all of us gathered around, drinking Fat Tire, listening to live music, exchanging stories of our adventure on the bike, and give each other a high five.

Here are some of the ways the FoCo Fondo (registration is still open, but less than 150 spots left!) is putting gravel in the community, and the community in gravel.

Five routes:
The FoCo Fondo returns in 2022 with five courses, making race day accessible to all types of runners. The 145-mile Triple Dog I Dare You course is new this year and joins the 102-mile Double Dog Dare You, 53-mile Dare You, 32-mile Here For It and 12-mile Safe Routes to School Family Ride .

Underrepresented groups:
This year, the FoCo Fondo provided 20 scholarships – covering both accommodation and race registration – to BIPOC athletes. Fat Tire helps defray the cost of several homes through Ride for Racial Justice — this will include RFRJ’s own program athletes and some of the existing scholars who need housing.

2022 also sees an expansion of non-binary initiatives. Fat Tire has added a $3,000 matching scholarship for the non-binary category for the 145-mile Triple Dog Dare you course. This brings the total purse to $9,000 in the men’s, women’s and non-binary categories and split among the top 5 runners in each category.

Additionally, FoCo Fondo offered a non-binary entry program for 2022 with accommodation from Fat Tire. This program has partnered with nonprofit Stamina Racing Collective and local athlete Bethel Steele to create a welcoming space for these athletes to come to FoCo Fondo, engage with other non-binary athletes, and the wider cycling community.

“I know from my own experience as a professional on the road where women’s teams were chronically underfunded how meaningful housing support can be and can be directly cost prohibitive,” says Whitney. “I also love how these homes can be a gathering space and I’m thrilled to see how these organizations take advantage of that! Both of these organizations do amazing work, and I’m thrilled to connect them with housing and entries to honor their work.”

Financial:
The FoCo Fondo has a volunteer program to earn entry, including volunteering for 2022 entry. This is a flexible program that aims to portray volunteers as indispensable and provide some ownership to make some FoCo Fondo an event for everyone involved.

Kids:
FoCo Fondo offers free admission for children (accompanied by an adult) and teenagers at half price. FoCo Fondo also donates to Safe Routes to School, with its particular funds going to fund after-school bike clubs in the most underfunded schools in Fort Collins. Safe Routes gets full reins of the funds, so the money has also been used to bring mechanics into apartment complexes to fix kids’ bikes there, give one-on-one lessons to new immigrant kids on which routes to take to the school on their bikes, and buy helmets for children who need them.

“They know how to use a dollar for the biggest impact and I love hearing the stories,” says Whitney.

Women:
Nearly 40% of FoCo Fondo 2022 registrants are women. There is an equal prize purse for all genders, and the event hosted a practice run for women earlier this spring.

Another unique initiative added this year, in part to help address the shortage of women at gravel racing, is race day child care.

Beginners:
Throughout the spring, FoCo Fondo offered no-drop training rides for all levels. According to Whitney, “The free workouts are really about supporting all runners. We’ve had a lot of riders who have never ridden in a group before these. With FoCo Fondo, we really want to see people redefining their comfort zones, pushing their limits but also being able to laugh at themselves when it doesn’t work out and have a blast in the process…to own their adventure.

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