Gran Fondo Badlands brings more cyclists to Valley
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. granfondobadlands.com 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.