It was another successful weekend out on the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo courses as riders broke out the bicycles and hit the local roads, highways and trails.
With over 360 riders from Cranbrook, Kimberley and beyond, such as Alberta and the northwestern U.S., cyclists took on three courses differing in length on Saturday morning, starting and finishing at the St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino.
The event featured three courses—Piccilo (58 km), Medio (102 km) and Gran (152 km), along with a kids fondo on Sunday with some shorter, more manageable distances.
“I think the reception from the cyclists, similar from the past, was deeper or richer, certainly from those cyclists who traveled from Seattle, Victoria, Calgary who were very appreciative of the warm welcome from volunteers and the St. Eugene resort,” said Glenn Dobie, the chairperson of the event.
“The day went as well as the picture-perfect weather. Everything matched the blue sky, sunshine, 25-degrees and I think that was just the backdrop to everything that went just as well.”
Though the Gran Fondo is marketed as a ride, not a race, the fastest completion time for the longest course came in at 3h:55m.
“That’s an extraordinary feat of athleticism,” Dobie noted.
In addition to the Gran Fondo event itself, there was also a Ride the Runway event the night before out at the Canadian Rockies International Airport. Thought it was a smaller event, cyclists were pleased with riding the two-kilometre loops on the runway, with prizes donated by Hot Shots Cafe and Pacific Coastal Airlines.
After the Gran Fondo, roughly 30 young ones got into the Kids Fondo, which was a big hit for the children and parents alike, said Dobie.
“It was a smaller number, but the kids who were there and the parents who were there had just a blast. It really was a joy to see their smiling faces on their bikes and all of that,” said Dobie.
A few notable awards include the King and Queen of the Mountain—the rider with the fastest time up the Fort Steele hill. For the men’s category, Pat Klassen took the top open time at 4:03, while Jane McCurdy had the top time of 4:38 on the women’s side.
The Team Spirit Award went to a local group of riders known as the Jaffray Rebels.
“They really exemplified the spirit,” Dobie said. “One of their cyclists passed a cyclists who had a mechanical problem—a flat tire—stopped, went back and helped him fix the tire and get him back on his bike, then cycled on to catch up his teammates.
“That was really, really quite neat and there are a number of father and mother and older kids in the group, so they were 11-strong and they’re looking forward to coming back next year with a bigger team.”
Money raised will go back into ongoing maintenance of the Rails 2 Trails network and another community project to be determined.
“There’s an annual contribution to Rails 2 Trails and the Paint the Train project is now finished, so Rotary is now in the process of identifying another major local project and we’ll go through a process to select what we think is best for the city and a lot of the funds will go towards that,” Dobie said.
Dobie would like to acknowledge the support of the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club and other local service groups and recognize all local businesses who sponsored or provided in-kind donations to the event.