Growing Bluewater Granfondo to star in new documentary

Cyclists line up for the start of the 2018 Bluewater Granfondo in Bright’s Grove. Gina Robertson, Gina Marie Photography

Troy Shantz

Sarnia-Lambton’s big cycling event is headed to the big screen.

A new documentary will tell the story of the Bluewater International Granfondo and how it has supported end-of-life care while expanding cycling culture locally since 2014, said event founder Ken MacAlpine.

“It will be of quality suitable for CBC and Netflix,” he said.

The documentary is directed by veteran journalist Jennifer Mossop with production by Sarnia’s own Dragonfly Media Inc.

They hope to distribute the 40-minute film to broadcasters and festivals once complete this fall. Sarnia screenings can be expected, MacAlpine said.

“If we can, through this film, show what some communities can do to help… and spread it in a similar manner to what, say, the Terry Fox road race did across Canada… it would be great.”

In its first three years the Granfondo raised and donated $140,000. The money supports St. Joseph’s Hospice and the palliative care unit at Bluewater Health, as well as an annual palliative care conference in Grand Bend attended by more than 100 doctors and nurses each September.

Granfondos, or “big ride” in Italian, are held in nearly 1,000 communities around the world.

Though not a race, some routes in the local event have timed sections for more serious riders.

The online Granfondo Guides ranks the Bluewater International Granfondo tops in Ontario, #2 in Canada, and #14 in North America.

This year’s event on Aug. 4 will once again begin and end in Bright’s Grove. It’s expected to be the largest yet with the addition of a new route for beginners and additional training rides.

Organizers added a 30-kilometre ride to existing routes of 50, 100 and 150 kilometres so the day would appeal to all levels of cyclists, from those “who just got off the couch” to the pros, MacAlpine said.

The first year drew 500 riders and the numbers have increased steadily, said MacAlpine, who expects more than 900 this summer. Each year, organizers have had to cut off registration even though more wanted to sign up.

Cyclists arrive with all skill levels and from places as far away as Mexico and Europe.

The Ontario First Responder Road Cycling Championships also takes place during the event.

A pre-event dinner is planned for Aug 3, featuring guest speaker Hunter Allen, an expert cycling coach and author.
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