The return of the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo was a great success this past weekend, with 333 riders taking on the challenging routes.
The Fondo returned to the Kimberley/Cranbrook area on Sept. 10 after a two-year forced hiatus because of the pandemic.
In 2017, the event also had to be cancelled because of fire hazards and smoky skies.
Steve Weatherall, organizer of this year’s event, says they lucked out with weather and had a fantastic weekend.
“We really, really lucked out with the weather,” Weatherall said. “Three days before the event it was horribly smoky. Then the day before the event the skies started to clear out, and we had a very slight haze the day of. Temperatures were perfect for a bike ride.”
The Fondo began at St. Eugene on Saturday morning, with three different rides to choose from: Gran Fondo, Medio Fondo and Piccolo Fondo. Riders went from St. Eugene to Kimberley, all the way to Wasa, through Fort Steele and back to St. Eugene.
There was a post-ride meal provided by St. Eugene, along with music and mingling.
“The day overall went off as we’d hoped. We had some incredibly favourable comments from riders,” said Weatherall. “One fellow, from London, Ontario, commented that he has done hundreds of Fondos and would rank this one among the top.
“Another lady from Calgary said that us organizers and volunteers would never know how truly special the Fondo is, considering we aren’t riding. We had many people say how well organized it was and how great the route was.”
Weatherall thanked everyone who made the day possible, most especially the 150 volunteers.
“You know, I’d like to thank our announcer David Standing as well, he just does a fantastic job, and of course there was a huge pile of effort from volunteers for the aid stations and set up. We could never do this event without the help of so many volunteers,” Weatherall said.
The Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo is organized by Cranbrook’s Sunrise Rotary Club - it’s a non-profit event with all of the monies raised going directly back into the community.
Weatherall notes that people have already begun registering for next year’s Fondo.
“We’ve already got people registering and telling us they are going to register for next year,” he said. “Bring your friends.”