There has been many of these popping up around the US, and are already VERY popular in Europe. I am referring to Gran Fondo's. On June 3rd I am going to partake in the Oregon Gran Fondo. The route, which begins and ends in Cottage Grove, OR, looks to be quite scenic and remote. There are several route options depending on how many miles you want to ride (117, 71, and 31.2 miles).
Gran Fondo is Italian for "big ride", and refers to the public being invited to ride a stage from one of the major Grand Tours in Italy (Giro d' Italia) and France (Tour de France). Chris Horner and Lei Leipheimer are a few American Pro Tour cyclists who organize their own Gran Fondo's. Horners happens to be in Oregon and Leipheimer's is in California.
I will be using the full Gran Fondo route of 117 miles for training in preparation for some upcoming longer distance events. The event uses timing chips, and there are two categories (competitive and non-competitive). I am planning to ride at a solid pace and not just an easy day in the saddle. So if you are reading this and are also doing the Gran route, I hope to see you out there. Let's hope that the weather cooperates, anything is possible over on the west side of the mountains.