Organizers say the Gran Fondo is shaping up to be a great ride this Sunday, with registration up 40 per cent from last year’s inaugural race.
The weather is also looking like it will cooperate for the 362 confirmed cyclists, with the forecast calling for a sunny high of 27 degrees.
Glenn Dobie, chair of the event, said they are pleased with all the riders coming from outside of town.
“We have two from Oxford, England, one from Montreal,” he said. “We have half a dozen from Vancouver Island which is a change from last year.”
He added that East Kootenay locals still make up close to 50 per cent of the riders.
The rides begin at St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino.
Cyclists have a choice of three distances to ride — the 57 km Piccolo Fondo, the 102 km Medio Fondo and the 152 Gran Fondo.
The staggered starts begin at 9 a.m. for the Gran, 9:10 for the Medio, and 9:20 for the Piccolo.
Dobie said there has also been an increase in those doing the shorter Piccolo ride.
“Which is really nice,” he said. “I think there are a lot more recreational cyclists who understand that it’s doable — and it’s a ride, not a race.”
Dobie thinks that the huge increase in registrants is partly due the event going into its second year, as well as word of mouth from last year’s participants.
Dobie also credited the Gran Fondo organizing group’s own campaign to encourage more recreational cyclists, who look at the event as a festival and celebration of family and friends getting together.
“That’s what we want to encourage down the road, getting more recreational cyclists,” he said. “You can take three, four hours, or even longer if you like to do the short ride and still take part in the festivities, listen to the music and have a nice meal.”
Musician Barney Bentall will be performing at the event.
“All riders go through the Platzl this year in Kimberley, which is really neat. That’s where the first aid station is. You can pick water, gatorade, cliff bars, fresh muffins.”
Dobie said with coffee shops and restaurants open in the Platzl, it will create a sort of Tour de France feel.
Dobie also asks vehicle traffic to share the road with the many cyclists.
The event is presented by Taylor Adams Chartered Accountants and organized by the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club.
A portion of the funds raised from the event will go towards the Cranbrook – Kimberley Rails to Trails Society. It will also go towards the paint the train project which is going on near the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.