Bluewater International Gran Fondo set for Expansion
Ontario’s newest Gran Fondo event sold out in advance last year, and raised over $30K for charity
Organizers of the sold-out Bluewater International Gran Fondo are expanding due to the overwhelming success of the inaugural event last increasing entries to 750 participants for the second edition on August 6th.
“Around 170 riders have registered for the ride already” said chairperson Kenneth MacAlpine.
The Gran Fondo starts and finishes along the shores of Lake Huron at Mike Weir Park. Last year saw more than 500 participants register, selling out entries in advance.
“Giordana cycling jerseys for all entrants, fuelling stations along the way, a post-ride party with live music by Offsite Impact Band, a hot meal, and the course itself, are among the reasons why our Gran Fondo has proved so popular”, said MacAlpine, a Sarnia cyclist at the official unveiling at the Tourism Sarnia-Lambton office in Point Edward.
“Mike Weir Park and along the waterfront in Lambton County is uniquely beautiful,” he said. “I think the event, the organizing and the structure is just very appealing to people.”
Gran Fondo is an Italian term for “Big Ride/Race” and is also the first of its kind in Sarnia-Lambton and appeals to a growing cycling population, officials said.
People flocked from far away as Europe and British Columbia last year to take part in the inaugural Bluewater Gran Fondo.
“More than a tourism draw, the event has inspired a new generation of cyclists in the community” said Anita Trusler, a host committee member and health promotion supervisor with Lambton Public Health.
The ride caters for all abilities of cyclists with 50, 100 and 150-kilometre routes with staggered starts and timed sections to get the competitive juices flowing.
Aimed at getting people off the couch the organizers put on evening training rides leading up to the race. “They were a tremendous success” she said, “with up to 80 cyclists attending Wednesday nights”
“The friendships that were created, the relationships that were built, the confidence that was gained,” she said. “Our two cycling shops had their greatest sales ever last year around the Gran Fondo.”
The spring training session are return again this spring and many riders are stepping up and doing the 100 km ride from the 50km ride last year.
“These people now are buying higher-end bikes; it’s just all coming back into the community to grow that cycling culture,” she said.
The inaugural Gran Fondo raised over $30,000 which went towards palliative care programs at Bluewater Health and St. Joseph’s Hospice, including professional development training for medical staff.
“That encouraged us that we could do it again because we had such strong support,” said Jonathan Palumbo, Gran Fondo vice-chair and Bluewater Health Foundation chairperson.
The Bluewater International Granfondo is accepting registrations for next year’s event on its website: bigF.ca.
The BIGF will again be part of the Giordana Gran Fondo National Championship Series of events across North America and points will be awarded that will count towards the overall championship.