The HeartLand Tour – an annual cycling event designed to promote cardiovascular health – is being held for the sixth time this year and Yarmouth again is one of the stops.
HeartLand Tour organizers hope to see youth and their families take part in the event. One family that will are the Hiltzes, here outside their Wellington home. The parents are Andrew and Natasha Hiltz. With them are their children, (from left) Ellie (eight years old), Janaya (six), A.J. (three) and Gabrielle (five). Eric Bourque photo
The 2012 tour will begin Saturday, July 7, in Wolfville and the Yarmouth leg is scheduled for Sunday, July 8. As before, participants in the Yarmouth leg will have the option of covering any of various distances.
The total distance of the Yarmouth portion of the tour this year is 91 kilometres, but participants may want to do a 75-km route or maybe a 40-km one. Shorter options include a 13-km ride and one of four kilometres.
The Yarmouth leg begins at 9 a.m. at the Rodd Grand Hotel. The route makes its way, via Main Shore Road, to the Port Maitland school, where there will be a nutrition break. This is one of the points where riders are invited to join in. From here it’s 75 km to the finish.
Another place to join the group is École secondaire de Par-en-Bas, the second stop on the Yarmouth leg. From here it’s a 40-km ride to the finish.
From Par-en-Bas the participants will ride towards the Yarmouth Light. Bikers who join the group at the lighthouse will cover a 13-km distance into town and to the finish.
It’s four km if they join in at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital’s Grove Road parking lot.
The idea is to get people involved, whatever distance they choose to do, says Jack Harding, spokesman for the Yarmouth leg of the HeartLand Tour.
“This year, as in other years, we’re encouraging people of all skill levels (to take part),” he said.
And, as before, you don’t have to be on a bicycle to take part. With runners in mind, for example, this year the Yarmouth leg of the HeartLand Tour will start with a 5-K fun run.
“They’ll be leading us out,” said Harding, referring to those who will do the fun run to kick things off from the Grand Hotel. “This will be the first year that we’ve had the runners at the start of the HeartLand Tour.”
People can take part by walking too. According to the schedule for this year’s Yarmouth leg of the HeartLand Tour, a walking group will be leaving the Tim Hortons/Wendy’s at 3 p.m. and walk the final two km.
“We certainly have something for every age and ability and it’s worked really well in the past,” Harding said.
Closing ceremonies will be held at Beacon Church.
About 300 people – bikers, runners, walkers etc. – took part in the Yarmouth portion of the HeartLand Tour in 2011, the most so far.
While organizers encourage people of all ages to take part, they have, in the past, been particularly interested in attracting young people.
“This year we’re concentrating on encouraging youth to come out, plus their families,” Harding said.
The HeartLand Tour was first held in 2007. According to the event’s website, the tour’s organizers want “to unify communities across Nova Scotia with a common goal: creating healthier Nova Scotians and promoting awareness about the high health risks of heart disease and obesity.”
Harding is one of the riders planning to do the entire tour, covering about 900 km over eight days.
“This is the sixth (HeartLand Tour) already and throughout the province it’s just getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “That’s what we like to see.”