The first Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo, organized by the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Creston Rotary Club, will run Sept. 21. (Photo submitted)

Creston businesses, riders invited to join in Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo

Creston Rotary Club and chamber of commerce organizing September cycling event

Planning is well underway for the Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo, and organizers are encouraging the community to get involved before cyclists come to town for the Sept. 21 event, jointly organized by the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Creston Rotary Club.

About 130 cyclists are registered so far, with the farthest being from Edmonton, Alta., and the most individuals coming from Nelson. Local participants are a small minority so far, though.

“More riders equals more excitement,” said chamber manager Vern Gorham. “If cyclists come this year, and have a great event, they will come back with friends.”

Each will receive a swag bag that includes a locally produced protein bar and coffee, a commemorative water bottle, a weekend pass to the Creston and District Community Complex, and a card for special pricing on local products and services. If businesses are interested in taking part, they’re more than welcome.

“We do want them to reach out to the chamber to tell us what they could do for the cyclists,” said chamber manager Vern Gorham.

The Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo (Italian for “big ride”) is a non-competitive cycling event. Half of the profits will go to the chamber of commerce, and half will go to the Rotary club, which is working closely with the Trails for Creston Valley Society to support its efforts to develop biking and hiking trails.

Riders choose between courses of three lengths, the longest taking 4.5-7.5 hours and running through Canyon, Lister and long the East Shore, with all beginning and ending in downtown Creston, which will be closed to traffic for the day. The downtown event area will feature live entertainment, the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, a kids’ zone, a ribs cook-off and much more. Following the ride, cyclists will have a full outdoor meal provided by Jimmy’s Pub and Grill’s mobile kitchen.

There is a lot to putting on an event of this size, and the organizers are also looking for volunteers. Their help combined with hospitality from local businesses will ensure riders feel welcome, and make this year’s gran fondo the first of many.

“This event is much more than a cycling event,” said Gorham. “This event will help local tourism at a time when nothing else is going on.”

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