Townsman file photo of the 2015 Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo.

Townsman file photo of the 2015 Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo.

Gran Fondo organizers praise sponsors, volunteers

Though the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo was cancelled this year, organizers are praising the business, community and volunteer support for stepping up for what had shaped up to be a record year.

With humble beginnings five years ago, the Fondo has grown each consecutive instalment and had reached 500 riders this year, selling out a few weeks before the ride was set to go.

While organizers are pleased with that figure, it’s the behind-the-scenes support that is also key.

Al Dyck and Glenn Dobie provided an update to the Cranbrook Rotary Club during an event at the Prestige Rock Mountain Resort to recognize and thank sponsors and volunteers.

There were 24 sponsors who provided financial support, while an additional 23 sponsors provided in-kind support or staffing resources. Over 150 volunteers had signed up to help out as well, doing everything from helping out on the day of the ride to little things one would never think of — such as the high school girls volleyball team sweeping gravel off the side of long stretches of highway for rider safety.

“They are very selfless people, they are not looking for recognition,” said Dyck. “The spirit of the event is burning strong in sponsor and in-kind sponsors and volunteers.”

Some good things even came out of the cancellation, as organizers took Clif Bars, which the company had donated for the riders, and shipped them over to the Emergency Reception Centre for snacks for evacuees from the Lamb Creek wildfire.

Both spoke about the struggles of weighing the pros and cons of making the decision to cancel the event, but in the end it was a simple decision.

Dobie added that pretty much all of the feedback from the Gran Fondo’s Facebook page was positive and that people understood the right decision was made for the right reasons.

However, despite the disappointment in having to cancel the 2017 edition of the Fondo, both organizers are excited to continue growing the event.

Five years ago, the goal was to have 200 riders and now, registration has topped 500.

What will the future hold?

“This thing has taken a life of its own,” said Dyck. “How big can we dream? Why can’t we have 1,000 riders?”