Third annual Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie ready to roll

Another route added to provide participants with four choices

Published on March 8, 2017

The annual Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie will be held on Sept. 24 in Clare.

©Carla Allen

CLARE - Registration is now open for the Sept. 24 Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie. The event continues to be popular, with 156 entries as of early March. Those include 34 out of province, two of which are from Australia.

The cycling/cultural experience has seen phenomenal growth since 2015, when it was first held, doubling registrations last year to 831.

2017 Super Gran Fondo route

Organizers say that although it is timed, the event is more of a self-paced fun group experience than a race. It is the largest road cycling event east of Quebec.

New for 2017, a 161.5-kilometre Super Gran loop extending into Yarmouth County will be offered for the hardcore cyclist. Experienced riders will be challenged by a slightly lengthened Gran 120 km or the Medio 67 km, while novice cyclists may prefer the shorter 35 km Piccolo Fondo. Riders navigate rolling inland roads and pass by towering wooden churches along the panoramic coastal route that hugs Baie Sainte-Marie.

Both Gran and Super Gran routes will take a left-hand turn after Mavillette Beach, and cycle through the picturesque fishing village of Cape St Mary. Both the Super Gran and Medio Fondo rides will take participants around the scenic Bas-de-la-Rivière loop with vistas of la Baie Sainte-Marie and Digby Neck.

The event starts at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning at the Vélo Baie Sainte-Marie bike shop (9976 Highway 1, Saulnierville). Lunch features barbecued pork or lobster in the shell, with prizes to follow.

The day before (Saturday), cyclists are invited to a social event for a taste of local Acadian culture at the Clare Veterans Centre. Participants registered by Aug. 1 will receive a Gran Fondo jersey, a swag bag and other items. Early-bird registration ($99) is open until Aug. 1, although registration will be available up until the morning of the event. All cyclists will receive a finisher’s medal after the ride.

Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie has recently been nominated by Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance for a 2017 Prestige Award for Sport Tourism Organization of the Year.

Ronnie LeBlanc, warden for the Municipality of Clare, says it is an honour to have the event nominated for a national sports award.

“This nomination for organization of the year acknowledges all the hard work and dedication of our organizing committee, our many volunteers, as well as the entire community of Clare, which eagerly rolls out the welcome mat for these cyclists,” he said.

“Being nominated nationally, in the same company as larger urban organizations, shows that people are paying attention to what happens in rural Nova Scotia and that is a really good thing to hear.”

According to a recent assessment by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, the combined spending of out-of-town participants and supporters who travelled to Clare region for 2016 Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie, in combination with operational and capital expenditures by organizers in support of the ride, totalled $302,000, supporting $462,000 in economic activity in Nova Scotia, including $384,000 of economic activity in Clare.

Gran Fondo 2017 race

©Carla Allen

For more information and to register online, visit the Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie website.