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Gran Fondo registration opens up

The start of the inaugural East Kootenay Gran Fondo, September, 2013. - Barry Coulter file photo
The start of the inaugural East Kootenay Gran Fondo, September, 2013.
— image credit: Barry Coulter file photo

Though the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo is six months away, registration has begun with 500 spots up for grabs, according to Glenn Dobie, the event chairman.

A few changes have been made for this year in the aftermath of last year's inaugural event, as Dobie and his team of organizers work to grow and enhance the rider experience.

"We looked at last year at what went well and then we looked at what we could do to make it more of a festival, fun experience for the cyclists," said Dobie.

There will be a team spirit award sponsored by the Heidout Brew Pub for the best-dressed and most enthusiastic. The Pedal and Tap Restaurant in Kimberley has sponsored the King and Queen of the Hill award, which will be handed out to the cyclists who climb the steep 1.5-kilometre stretch just outside Fort Steele the fastest.

Included with registration is a continental breakfast, and cyclists can also purchase rider kits—which include a jersey, shorts, socks and caps—on the event website.

Anyone who registers before June 30th will be entered into a draw to win two free flights from Pacific Coastal Airlines. Registration will continue right up till the end of August with a 500-rider cap.

"We're cautiously optimistic that we'll get close to that," said Dobie. "Registration is open and we already have registration coming in from Whistler, Calgary, Canmore, Langley and local.

"It's early, so they're just starting to come in, but I think that will start to change pretty quickly."

The Gran Fondo, which is billed as a ride, not a race, is also a non-profit event, with money going towards maintenance of the North Star Rails to Trails and the Paint the Train project at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.

"We hear people who cycled last year—they were really pleased to hear it was non-profit," added Dobie.

Not only has the event attracted riders locally and abroad, but sponsorship support from the area has been huge, Dobie noted.

The event will require roughly 125 volunteers, and anyone who is interested in helping out can check out the Gran Fondo website. Registration is also available online at: www.krgf.ca

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