Cyclist Merv Hutchinson (right) receives a medal from Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce manager Vern Gorham following the 151-kilometre gran fondo segment of the Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo. Hutchinson, also a member the organizing committee, was the oldest participant in the gran fondo, and completed the 70-plus age category with a time of 6:58:35. (Brian Lawrence photo)

Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo exciting event for cyclists

Cyclists chose from 151-, 98- and 56-km courses around Creston Valley and Kootenay Lake East Shore

Over 120 cyclists participated in Saturday’s Kootenay Lake Gran Fondo (KLGF), hosted jointly by the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Creston.

Nearly two years of work by the organizing committee, which included members of the Creston Valley Cycling Club, paid off as local and visiting cyclists enjoyed a smoothly run event, as well as the valley and East Shore roads and scenery.

“We heard so many out of town cyclists say that they’d be back next year with more friends,” said Rotary Club president Heather More. “They enjoyed the beautiful and challenging route, as well as the wonderful volunteers who supported the ride.”

Cranbrook’s Debra Parker earned recognition for the fastest time overall, 4:25:12, and fastest female riding in the 151-kilometre gran fondo, which ran north on Highway 3A as far as Burden’s Cut. She also earned a prize for Queen of the Mountain, for cycling a steep climb on Highway 3A in 7:14; Darren Harrold of Calgary was named King of the Mountain for completing the same hill in 6:29.

Nelson’s Paul Kelly had the fastest male time overall in the gran fondo, clocking in at 4:25:13, and was the fastest in his 40-49 age category.

Creston notables in the gran fondo included:

• Robert Lang, sixth male overall at 4:37:19;

• Richard Smith and Robert Armstrong, first and fourth in the 50-59 male group, with respective times of 4:28:53 and 4:58:31;

• Travis Butz, fourth in the 39-and-under male division, at 5:49:00;

• Merv Hutchinson, the only male in the 70-99 division, with a time of 6:58:35;

• Charlene Turner and Sophia Smith, fifth and sixth place females with respective times of 5:08:12 and 5:08:13; and,

•Eva Fellegi, the oldest female, with a time of 6:58:37.

Fewer Creston names stood out in the results of the 98-kilometre medio fondo, in which Cranbrook’s Steve Donaldson was the fastest male with a time of 2:53:55 and Olivia Besanger, also of Cranbrook, was the fastest female, at 3:39:45.

Creston Valley residents who placed highly were:

• Gerry Sliworsky, 10th male overall, with a time of 4:05:56;

• Atma Persad, second in the male 40-49 division, at 4:47:19; and,

• Shannon Anderson, fourth in the female 40-49 division, at 4:31:10.

Carlos Burton was the day’s first Creston rider to cross the finish line, with a time of 2:10:06 in the 59-kilometre piccolo fondo. Nelson cyclists took the top overall spots, with Robert Simmerling clocking in at 2:04:14 and Linda Tynan at 2:16:29.

Other Creston cyclists placing well included:

• Brad Burnett, Curtis Huscroft and Gene Zackowski, fourth, sixth and seventh males overall, with respective times of 2:18:13, 2:46:25 and 2:52:55;

• Joanne Beddoes and Rita Hutchinson, sixth and seventh females overall, with respective times of 2:30:17 and 2:33:57;

• Teresa Cherrington and Heidi Graham, second and third in the 40-49 female division, with respective times of 2:40:30 and 2:48:27; and,

• Tanna Patterson, third in the female 60-69 division, at 2:52:44.

While the KLGF was an exciting event for the cyclists, it also accomplished a chamber of commerce goal of bringing business to town on what would be an otherwise quiet weekend. One of the 123 riders brought seven others with him, and they ended up spending $300 on groceries, $700 on wine and $200 in fresh produce and art.

If reviews from the cyclists — including one from as far away as Guelph, Ont. — are any guarantee, the economic benefits could grow next year.

“One of the riders told me that this thing is going to ‘blow up’ for next year as the cyclists all talk to their respective groups of cycling friends,” said chamber manager Vern Gorham. “Everyone on the organizational side did what needed to be done, and together, we pulled off a great event.”

For complete event results, visit and search for “Kootenay Lake”.

Also read: September is Community Foundations Month in B.C.

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