Gran Fondo Bad­lands brings more cy­clists to Val­ley

The Drumheller Mail - - REAL ESTATE - Patrick Ko­lafa

As spring re­turns and the snow re­cedes from the roadways, res­i­dents and visi­tors are get­ting back on their bikes in greater num­bers.

This may par­tially be at­trib­uted to the suc­cesses of bike events in the val­ley in­clud­ing the Tour of Al­berta three sea­sons ago and then the Gran Fondo Bad­lands which is re­turn­ing for its third sea­son.

The Gran Fondo Bad­lands is slated for June 25. Last year the event at­tracted 700 riders tak­ing on a va­ri­ety of cour­ses from 50 kilo­me­tres to the full 160-kilo­me­tre route. Reg­is­tra­tion is open.

‘I think we are over 200 reg­is­tered so far,” said one of the event or­ga­niz­ers Donna Sawchyn. “Peo­ple are think­ing about rid­ing.”

She says the event’s reach is also ex­pand­ing, with a siz­able pop­u­la­tion com­ing from B.C. and North­ern Al­berta.

“We are re­ally pleased we are get­ting the word out. We are ac­tu­ally see­ing some tourism come from this,” said Sawchyn.

In fact, she says that was one of the goals of the event, and the buzz is com­ing from the cy­cling com­mu­nity.

“We are con­nected with a big cy­cling com­mu­nity here in Cal­gary and last year we took peo­ple out for a ride. So they are go­ing east as op­posed to west (to the Rockies) now,” she said. “Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how great it is out there.”

Some of the pos­i­tives of rid­ing in the Drumheller area Sawchyn says are the quiet roads, the good weather, the vis­tas and the tech­ni­cal rid­ing as­pects for the ter­rain.

She ex­plains the Fondo is less of a race and more of an event, mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble to a wide cross sec­tion of bik­ers. Riders do not have to be pros.

“We try to ad­ver­tise this as an event as op­posed to a race,” said Sawchyn.

Shaun Field is a lo­cal rider, he chuck­les and says he has joined the ranks of MAMILS (Mid­dle Aged Men in Ly­cra). He is see­ing more riders from Drumheller as well as from out of the com­mu­nity on the roads. There are a few small rid­ing groups that get to­gether for rides.

“This is be­com­ing a crit­i­cal mass,” he said. “It is cer­tainly pick­ing up. I am see­ing fam­i­lies that are all cy­cled-up com­ing out, which is al­ways good to see.”

As a cy­clist, he ap­pre­ci­ates the val­ley with it scenery and ter­rain.

“It’s good to know that peo­ple are tak­ing an in­ter­est in it. It’s a great thing to do and I hope more peo­ple take an in- ter­est in it,” said Field­ing.

Sawchyn said there are some changes this year at the Gran Fondo Bad­lands. The Fondo is now as­so­ci­ated with Two Wheel View, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that takes Drumheller youth on the road for the Bad­lands to Banff Bi­cy­cle ex­cur­sion. The Fondo also sup­ports the Navy League.

While the event is billed a non com­pet­i­tive, the Fondo is adding the King and Queen of the Moun­tain, two timed climbs; one leav­ing the Ble­riot Ferry, and one battling the 8 per cent grade leav­ing the val­ley east of Dorothy.

“We are go­ing to com­bine the two hill climb times to de­ter­mine the win­ner,” she said.

There are many op­por­tu­ni­ties for vol­un­teerism. To help with the event, go to www. gran­fon­dobad­ and fol­low the links.


The Gran Fondo Bad­lands At­tracted 700 riders to the course last year and this year is slated for June 25. The pop­u­lar­ity of such events ap­pears to have the val­ley be­com­ing more pop­u­lar with riders.

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