Bluewater cycling event expected to draw 750 participants

Participants in last year’s inaugural “big ride” cycle along the lakefront. Photo courtesy, Bluewater International Granfondo

Troy Shantz

The second annual Bluewater International Granfondo is just weeks away and has already earned notoriety locally and abroad as a premiere cycling event.

Cyclists from as far as Vancouver and Texas were among the 510 riders who attended last year, and more than 700 have already registered for the Aug. 6 event, said organizer Ken MacAlpine.

“My prediction is that we’ll go over 750,” he said. We’ll sell out.”

A granfondo, which loosely translates from Italian as “a big ride,” is mass participation cycling that began in Europe and has been growing in popularity in North America.

This year’s event allows participants to select one of three routes in Lambton County. The Bluewater Granfondo isn’t a race but it does include timed sections.

MacAlpine said several Ontario cycling clubs are attending, including the Toronto Hustle, a GTA club comprised of young professional-cycling hopefuls.

“They’ll ride within the peloton of our groups and support people, and when it comes time for the timed section, they’ll let it all go,” he said.

Bluewater features 50, 100 and 150 km routes, which remain largely unchanged from last year.

This year’s edition again starts and finishes at Mike Weir Park, with food and beer from local vendors and bands scheduled to perform following the ride.

MacAlpine hopes participants take advantage of the lakeside location and treat themselves to a refreshing dip after their ride.

“Some people said that it’s one of the best and most scenic spots they’ve ever started a race at.”

Last year’s ride raised $30,000 for St. Joseph’s Hospice and Palliative care at Bluewater Health.

MacAlpine said proceeds from this year’s event are supporting a major palliative care conference hosting experts from Canada and the U.S.

For information or to register for the ride, you can visit www.bigf.ca.