Ride will travel 100 miles around Johnson and Iowa Counties

Now in its fifth year, FRY fest offers a full slate of activities the Friday before the first UI home football game. This year, event organizers are adding a huge bicycling event on Sunday, Sept. 1, the day after the big game.

“So you’ll have FRY fest on Friday, the football game on Saturday and now the granGABLE on Sunday,” says Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area CVB. “Should make for a great Labor Day weekend.”

FRY fest honors the legacy of former UI football coach Hayden Fry. So perhaps it’s only fitting that this new event, the granGABLE, honors former Hawkeye wrestling coach Dan Gable.

“You have to train to ride your bike 100 miles,” Schamberger says. “It requires mental and physical discipline, all things certainly synonymous with Dan Gable.”

The name of the event, the granGABLE, is a play on gran fondo, a popular bicycling event.

“Gran fondo events are the big rage in cycling right now,” explains Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition and one of the event organizers. “It’s Italian. It means ‘big ride.’”

The granGABLE will feature a picturesque, 100-mile bike ride around Johnson and Iowa Counties, as well as shorter 25- and 60-mile routes.

“It’s kind of like a race, but it’s not a race,” Wyatt says. “I would liken it to a 10K run, where you’re timed, you have race numbers, you’re trying to finish and have a good time, but it’s also not uber competitive. There will be some people who are in it to win it, but there also will be those who just want to get their personal best.”

The granGABLE route will take riders on a beautiful ride in and around Johnson and Iowa counties. “I think we’ve arranged one of the best one-day rides in the Midwest. We start and stop at the Iowa River Landing in Coralville,” Wyatt says. The route will pass through Iowa City, past the UI Athletics Hall of Fame, then over to Tiffin, Oxford and Amana. “We’ll be taking a little break in each one of those communities,” Wyatt says. “In Amana, we’ll stop at the Millstream Brewery.”

From Amana, the route travels north to Swisher and Shueyville, then over to Ely Road and the Sutliff Cider Company. “We’ll go across the historic Sutliff Bridge and then over to Solon. That’s where Big Grove Brewery is,” says Wyatt.

From Solon, the ride will become more hilly. “We’ll go down Sugar Bottom Road. And then we’ll cross the dam at the Coralville Reservoir, which means at mile 97, there’s a challenging hill past the spillway,” he says. “Then we finish right back at the Iowa River Landing, which is where Backpocket Brewing is, and the post-ride party.”

The 100-mile route for the granGABLE will start at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning to give riders plenty of time to finish. The 60-mile route, which will travel through Tiffin, North Liberty, Oxford and the Amana Colonies, will begin at 10 a.m. The 25-mile loop, cycling through Tiffin and North Liberty, will start at noon.

At the end of the ride, the event’s namesake, Coach Dan Gable, will be on hand at the Iowa River Landing from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. to personally hand out medals to the riders who finish the 100-mile route.

Organizers are expecting up to 1,000 riders to participate.

“We’re seeing people from all over the Midwest for this. It’s really going to be a great event,” Wyatt says.

The entry fee for the 100-mile route is $125. For that, “you get some of the best swag that I’ve seen for a ride yet,” says Wyatt. “Every participant that registers for the 100-mile ride will get a jersey that’s been custom made, a bandanna, a wrist bracelet, a ticket to the post-ride party, a drawstring bag and a gold medal for completing the 100 miles. Plus nine rest stops along the route.”

The granGABLE event will benefit the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

The event promises to be fun for spectators, too. “We’ll have plenty of room down at the Iowa River Landing for people to come down and see the start and finish,” Wyatt says.

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