September 9 Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo
Riding in the valley between strings of jagged Rocky Mountain peaks, and along the scenic St. Mary River, participants in the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo are able to take in spectacular surroundings. Event chairman Glenn Dobie, however, knew from the beginning that this event couldn’t rest solely on the natural beauty of the region.
“We knew we had to stand apart,” said Dobie. The event features a well-signed route, rider support that includes bicycle mechanics travelling by motorcycle and dispatched through a central number, and a post-ride banquet at the five star St. Eugene golf course and resort. Little touches include cold cloths handed to each rider at the finish and free, staffed bike parking so riders can leave their bikes in a secure place when they head to the postride meal. Festivities include live music and wine tasting, but the highlight is the platzl in Kimberley, B.C.
“That’s where the first aid station is located, but we have it set up so the community comes out in droves to support the riders,” said Dobie. “We have it all ribboned off so that as riders come through the platzl, each rider’s name is announced, almost like a finish line atmosphere. Whether you’re doing the gran fondo distance in under four hours, or you’re taking four hours to do the piccolo, you get the same treatment. We’re really proud that we attend to both ends of the spectrum.”
Riders can enter the 152-km gran, the 102-km medio or the very popular 58-km piccolo. No matter the choice, the participants all enjoy what Dobie calls Kootenay charm. Entries are capped at 500 participants to preserve the quality of the event and the friendly atmosphere.
The proceeds of the Fondo, which is entering its fifth year, are used to support community initiatives run by the Rotary Club, including a youth cycling education program and funding for cycling infrastructure in the valley.