Happy New Year! Now let’s get into gear! Sign up for the Kootenay Gran Fondo


Joanne Elves for #RockiesExploring

Oh, oh, a few pounds crept on during the festive season of 2019. Not to worry. Today is the day you plan your route to better health and fitness. But the Biggest Loser system of dropping weight and regaining fitness is not the way to go. Slow and steady builds a better body. So, what to do? Sign up for a ride or a run in the fall to dangle that carrot and set that goal. What’s our suggestion? The Kootenay Gran Fondo.

The ride is in September giving you plenty of time to train. It starts and finishes at the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino a short distance from Cranbrook, B.C. where there’s plenty of space for riders to park in the freshly harvested fields next to the festival tent. In the early dawn light, water bottles are topped up, race numbers are secured to the bikes and hundreds of pairs of padded bike shorts are put on before heading to the festival tent for the continental breakfast. With bellies full of carbs and protein, the riders head for the start line in front of the old brick missionary-turned hotel.

Start 2020 in style, go #RockiesExploring and Bike The Rockies, register today

Watch Happy New Year! Now let’s get into gear! Sign up for the Kootenay Gran Fondo on YouTube.

Like many Gran Fondo events, the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo offers three distances.

The Gran Fondo is 152 km using the paved North Star Rails to Trails path to quickly arrive in Kimberley B.C. where the first fueling station is located on the Platzl. While the cheers of spectators echo through town, the riders pedal north along the Kimberley Highway, rolling through farm land and forest until it reaches Highway 95 where excellent views of the Kooteney River are on the right. There are a few steep hills to climb but the fueling station at Fort Steele has everyone topping up the tank. Cranbrook may be a short distance away, but this is where the big guns take a hard left and ride the peaceful Wardner Fort Steele Road for an extra 50 km before returning to Highway 95 for a few more steep climbs including the King and Queen of the Mountain competition before descending into the valley and onto Mission Road to St. Eugene.

Win two free entries to the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo. Enter here.

The Medio Fondo is 102 km, following the same route as the Gran but skips the Wardner Fort Steele out-and-back. The delightful Piccolo Fondo is 58 km using the North Star Rails to Trails to reach the Platzl and return the same way. Riders using E-bikes and families are all invited to participate. Every route is surrounded by spectacular scenery using roads with wide shoulders and a minimal amount of traffic.

Gran Fondo
Photo: Dave Heath

Volunteers take their jobs serious

Cranbrook and Kimberley really get behind the event organized by the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club with sponsors from many businesses in the area. When you walk into the tent to check in, expect to meet Rotary member Arlene Schroh, the Check in Volunteer leader. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

“Thank you so much for coming all this way. If there is anything we can do to help you, let me know,” she says with a hearty handshake before moving on to personally thank the next rider in line.

At the finish line, volunteers offer fresh washcloths to wipe the road off your face and take your bike to the secured bike rack. The banquet served on white linen is only steps away.

Gran Fondo
Photo: Dave Heath

The event is capped at 500 riders so that means organizers and volunteers leave no detail to chance. It may be up to you to ride the bike, but they offer an unforgettable experience.

Gran Fondo
Photo: Dave Heath

Sign up now to commit yourself to be a better you

The 2020 ride will be on Saturday, Sept. 12. Sign up now to commit yourself to doing the ride and most importantly, to getting fit. You’ve got plenty of time to train. But don’t delay. Start indoors, find some outdoor rides in the spring, enjoy long rides in the summer and by September you will be a rock star and ready to crush those hills.

Welcome to 2020!

When You Go

The 2020 ride will be on Saturday Sept. 12. To learn more about the event, head to the official website.

Win two free entries to the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo. Enter here.

Cranbrook is four hours from Calgary using Highways 2 and 3 through the Crowsnest Pass.

If you are staying overnight, there are a multitude of hotel options to suit your taste. Visit Cranbrook Tourism for an in-depth accommodation directory.

Gran Fondo
Photo: Dave Heath

Visit the Cranbrook Tourism Website for any pre-trip research and to connect with the businesses listed in this story, or stop by the in-town visitor centre for more details on the region.

Check out the #RockiesExploring expedition page on ZenSeekers to see what other experiences you can have nearby.

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