A small army of cyclists will hit the pavement when the Bluewater International Granfondo rolls out of Mike Weir Park on Aug. 5 for a third straight year.
“It will be just under 1,000, we’re anticipating,” said organizer Ken MacAlpine. “Significantly up from last year.”
A granfondo, Italian for “big ride,” is a mass participating cycling event that began in Europe and has been growing in popularity in North America.
The riders can choose routes of 50, 100 and 150 kilometres. The Granfondo isn’t a race, but the rides include timed sections and altitude climbs in the 100 and 150 distances.
Lakeshore Road has been dropped as a route. In previous years, riders would travel in both directions there at any given time, MacAlpine said.
“It gets busy because it’s a holiday weekend. Safety is number one.”
All routes this year leave Mike Weir Park in Bright’s Grove and take Michigan Line. The 50K goes to Forest Line, the 100K hits Arkona and goes through Forest, and the 150K reaches Parkhill before heading back to the park to rejoin the other routes. Riders average 15 km/h to 22 km/h, with the shortest taking around three and half hours and the longest about seven hours.
Sarnia is also hosting the Ontario First Responder Road Cycling Championship, in which active and former police officers, firefighters and paramedics try to post the fastest time during three sections of the 100 km ride.
When they return to the park, participants are greeted by food and beer vendors, with music from Sarnia band Offsite Impact.
Riders can also carb-up at a pasta dinner at the Dante Club on Saturday, Aug. 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring keynote speakers Alex Stieda and Stephen Cheung.
Stieda is a former pro cyclist who became the first North American to wear the signature yellow jersey in the Tour de France, and has won five tour jerseys in total.
Cheung has been cycling competitively for over 30 years and is the author of two books, Cutting Edge Cycling and Cycling Science.
Proceeds from the Bluewater Granfondo support St. Joseph’s Hospice and palliative care at Bluewater Health.
For registration and more info, visit http://www.bigf.ca/