Clockwise from top: The start of the Gran Fondo (152 kilometres)

Clockwise from top: The start of the Gran Fondo (152 kilometres)

‘Fondo Force’ fosters cycling camaraderie

With a 40 per cent increase from the inaugural event last year, the 2014 edition featured 350 riders in all three categories.

It’s the details that matter.

With that in mind, Glenn Dobie and the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo organizing committee went to work and tweaked a few things for their second annual event on Sunday.

Needless to say, their hard work paid off.

With a 40 per cent increase from the inaugural event last year, the 2014 edition featured 350 riders in all three of the distance categories.

“I think first and foremost is the overwhelming kudos to the volunteers from the cyclists,” said Dobie, “What we’ve dubbed the ‘Fondo Force’ really was a force to be reckoned with. Their enthusiasm and support in cheering the cyclists on was just exceptional.

“Adding the little wrinkle of going through the Kimberley Platzl…the expression I heard from the cyclists is that it felt like the Tour de France and it gave them a tremendous boost to cycle all the way out to Wasa and back.”

The Kimberley Rotary Club organized the festivities at the Platzl, with crowds building up an enthusiastic atmosphere as they cheered on the cyclists.

“It was like a celebration festival,” Dobie added. “People were stopping and cheering and there were cowbells and noisemakers.”

Awards were handed out to the Wildfires Cycling Club out of Cochrane, Alberta, while a couple from Oxford, England held the honour of being the competitors who traveled the farthest.

“They had friends in the area, and they came to visit them, but they coordinated it to ride in the Fondo,” said Dobie.

Other details, such as a continental breakfast and a post-ride meal seemed to be a big hit with the riders, he added. The post ride wrap up also featured a concert with Barney Bentall and the Testers.

As with last year’s first-ever Fondo, Dobie singled out business support as one of the key reasons for getting the successful event off the ground.

“The support of our local business community really contributes to the success of it. Their support is behind-the-scenes, but without their support, it just wouldn’t nearly have the flawless execution and the results.”

Dobie and the organizing committee will now debrief and begin planning for next year’s event.