(Photo submitted)

Gran Fondo will be a September highlight

With registration now open, it is impossible to predict just how big the first Kootenay Lake Grand Fondo biking event will be.

But the event co-ordinator, the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce, is well-prepared, and support from the community is growing.

“Momentum is gathering as organizers, riders and sponsors continue to sign up for participation in the inaugural Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo biking event upcoming this September 21,” Chamber manager Vern Gorham said last week, adding that “‘Gran Fondo’ is Italian for ‘the big ride.’”

CVCC has partnered with the Creston Rotary Club, and the event will follow the format of most Gran Fondo events held throughout the world by featuring three different ride routes, offering on-road biking experiences ranging from the recreational to the professionally demanding.

“There really is something for everyone in this event, and not just in the ride itself,” Gorham said. “In addition to the incomparable scenery of the Kootenay Lake shoreline that many riders will experience, kids and spouses will have the option of riding less challenging routes or just enjoying the many street fair events we have planned for downtown Creston that weekend.”

Registrations for the event are coming in as riders take advantage of the Super Early Bird discount that ends on April 29. Most early registrants are competitive Gran Fondo riders who are always looking for a new challenge. The 151km-long Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo ride features a combination of mountain lake shoreline and an aggregate elevation gain of more than 1500 meters. The 97km Media and 56km Piccolo routes allow less competitive and recreational riders to enjoy the southern end of Kootenay Lake and more of the Creston and Canyon-Lister valley vistas.

“About 150 volunteers will be marshaled to man the routes and assist riders at every stage of the event,” Gorham said. “Traffic will be diverted on Highway 3 so that Canyon Street can become a street festival space, including food trucks, arts and crafts, and activities for kids taking up residence in the area over the weekend.”

Three of Creston’s commercial wineries – Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, Skimmerhorn Winery, and Wynnwood Cellars – will be offering special tours and tasting events. The 2019 Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo is sponsored by RE/MAX.

Gorham said the idea for holding a Gran Fondo in Creston is due in part to the success of the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo that has been held near Cranbrook for the past five years. In fact, Cranbrook event organizers were key in helping Creston get started with planning, he said.

“Cranbrook organizers have been so generous and helpful in their support,” said Gorham. “Beyond having their blessing for holding our own event in the same month as theirs, we were given copies of their organizing schedules to template off of. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Other early factors key to getting the Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo off the ground quickly include the event routing and logistics expertise provided by co-chair Merv Hutchinson of Creston, and through the development of the event website, complete with video previews of the ride routes, provided by Westword Communications of Creston.

“We’ve been blown away with the support and enthusiasm in our community for this event,” Gorham added.

For more information go to www.kootenaylakegranfondo.com/

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