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Registration Open for Levi’s GranFondo Ride to Benefit Cycling, Animals

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Levi’s GranFondo offers three timed, non-competitive rides with Levi and several other professional cyclists, that capture the romance of Sonoma County’s most picturesque vineyards, towering redwoods, grassy meadows and coastal panoramas.

The Cause: Part 1
It’s no coincidence that Leipheimer, a three-time Amgen Tour of California winner, lives and trains in Sonoma County. Having ridden all over the world, the Santa Rosa resident considers it some of the most challenging and beautiful cycling country anywhere. Leipheimer and the Astana cycling team famously train throughout Sonoma’s valleys and vineyards and along its mountain ridges, bringing international attention to the area as a cycling paradise.

Funds raised by the GranFondo will help pay for the Tour of California to return to Santa Rosa again in 2010. The Tour, which is America’s largest cycling event, benefits Sonoma County businesses and boosts the county’s reputation among cyclists around the world.

Andrew Messick, vice president of marketing for AEG, which owns the Tour of California, says “Levi Leipheimer is one of America’s great cycling champions. Not only has he dominated the Amgen Tour of California, but now he is leading a movement to focus attention on the great cycling and tourism opportunities in his region, and to raise funds for our event. Similar actions from top pros in Europe have helped weave cycling into the fabric of the culture over there. We are delighted and honored to be a part of this, here in America.”

The Cause: Part 2
The GranFondo will also raise money and attention for Forget Me Not Farm, an award-winning program run in association with the Sonoma Humane Society. Since 1992, the farm has helped thousands of abused and at-risk children, many of whom have never experienced positive physical contact, form attachments and relationships with abused and neglected animals. Children are shown how to lovingly and gently care for an animal, nurture a plant in the garden and grow as individuals by learning from others. In this therapeutic setting, children, plants and animals learn and heal together.

Hit ‘more’ to see route and ride options and more details on the Forget Me Not Farm…

For 17 years, Farm Director and founder, Carol Rathmann, has offered the program free of charge to the children that need it most. “Levi’s charitable contributions and commitment to our Forget Me Not Farm program will help hundreds of abused children and animals,” she says. “Both Levi and his wife Odessa have been strong advocates and leaders in animal and child welfare, helping to save countless lives through their compassion and actions. Proceeds from Levi’s GranFondo will help Forget Me Not Farm bring more children and animals to a safe haven where they can heal, bond and grow with one another.”

The Ride
The GranFondo offers cycling enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the roads Levi trains on throughout the year and provides insight into what has made him one of the best riders in the world. It includes three routes of varying distance and difficulty, all of which begin in Santa Rosa. All participants, regardless of their route, will ride with Levi for the first 20 miles. He will also be joined by many of his professional friends, making it a great opportunity to talk shop with pro cyclists in a casual setting.

The three route options include:
· GranFondo – a 103 mile ride for very strong, skilled cyclists. The GranFondo takes riders along the famed King Ridge Road, one of the most challenging and beautiful routes in California. Amongst the scenery are rolling ridgetop views of nearby mountains, ridges, valleys and the vast Pacific Ocean.
· MedioFondo – a 65 mile loop for riders with plenty of experience but who ride only once or twice a week. Equally as beautiful as the GranFondo, the MedioFondo includes wonderful climbs, astounding coastal views and many of the challenges of the GranFondo.
· PiccoloFondo – a gentle 36 mile ride for recreational and beginner cyclists, featuring beautiful landscapes without the long steep climbs of the bigger Fondos. PiccoloFondo riders will ride along fertile valley floors and through nearby towns, Occidental and Sebastopol.

Detailed course descriptions and maps are available at http://www.levisgranfondo.com/course/.

Registration and Special Dinner with Levi
Registration is now open at www.levisgranfondo.com/registration. Rates increase on August 1. The final day for registration is September 15. Reservations for the Pre-Fondo Dinner on October 2nd with Levi can be made by emailing your contact information to DinnerWithLevi@bikemonkey.net. Payment will be collected at a later date.

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