BAIE SAINTE- MARIE - The fourth annual Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie will take place on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Organizers say the event has grown to become a bucket list ‘must-do' cycling and cultural experience.
Now the largest cycling event in Atlantic Canada, it hosted 917 cyclists in 2017. Even more are expected to ride this year.
As of March 21, there were 153 registrations, including 40 from outside Nova Scotia. Participants registered by Aug. 1 will receive a Gran Fondo event jersey, featuring a nautical theme. This year, Clare is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its foundation and a colourful Clare 250 logo has been added on a jersey sleeve.
Early-bird registration ($99) is open until Aug. 1, although registration will be available up until the morning of the event. The first 250 entries will have a chance to win $250 Garneau cycling products.
Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie is offering four unique rides on low-traffic roads this year. Experienced riders will be challenged by the 160-km Super Gran and 120-km Gran routes, while intermediate and novice cyclists may prefer the shorter 67-km Medio or 35-km Piccolo rides.
Riders will navigate rolling inland roads along lakes and rivers, passing by towering wooden churches along the panoramic coastal route that hugs Baie Sainte-Marie. New this year, a children's ride will be offered on Saturday, Sept. 22. E-bikes will also be permitted (Medio & Piccolo only) and timed separately during the Sunday rides.
Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie is billed as a cycling adventure for community residents and visiting outdoor enthusiasts—an experience that highlights the region’s Acadian culture and natural beauty. Organizers say the entire community rolls out the welcome mat as residents cheer cyclists from the roadside, waving Acadian flags and banging pots and pans.
The finish line festivities and finishers’ medals are part of the event and the names of participants will be announced as they cross the finish line.
Organizers say Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie will appeal to those looking to ride for fun, for good health and to take on a personal challenge, while enjoying the beautiful scenery in a safe environment. Although a timed event, this is more of a self-paced fun group event than a race.
The event will start at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Vélo Baie Sainte-Marie bike shop (9976 Highway 1, Saulnierville).
Lunch is included and is a choice of vegetarian chili, barbecue pork or the perennial favourite, fresh lobster in the shell. On Saturday, Sept. 22, riders are invited to a social event for a taste of Acadian culture at the Clare Veterans Centre.
“It’s an honour our Gran Fondo has been profiled as a ‘Don’t Miss Event’ in the 2018 provincial travel guide. I’d like to thank the organizing committee and over 150 volunteers whose hard work helps to create this world-class cycling experience,” said Clare Warden Ronnie LeBlanc.
How to participate