GUYSBOROUGH – Gran Fondo is now part of the vernacular in Guysborough County. Loosely translated from Italian as “big bike ride”, the growing worldwide phenomenon now has firm footing in Nova Scotia, after the inaugural Lost Shores Gran Fondo on Saturday, Sept. 10. Three hundred cyclists (organizers hoped for 200) choose among four routes – all featuring some of Nova Scotia’s most impressive scenery.
Organizers and cyclists are already predicting a doubling of participants next year.
The event was a partnership between Rob Carter of Lost Shores Gallery and the Municipality of the District of Guysborough.
Carter describes the response to the Gran Fondo as being “overwhelming...People are talking about coming back and bringing more friends, because they discovered something they had never seen before.”
He said the cyclists were mostly from Nova Scotia, with many from Halifax and the Valley.
“We didn’t require everybody to be a jock,” he said during an interview Monday. “The 30-km route was extremely popular.” Participants were also able to choose among 50k and 90k routes on road bikes and a 30k mountain bike route.
Beautiful weather and a huge volunteer effort contributed to the success of the inaugural Lost Shores Gran Fondo. More than 100 people helped with registration, directions and refreshments, among other aspects. Three volunteers from Canso rode motorcycles from the back of the group of cyclists to the front and back again so people didn’t feel isolated through more remote areas.
Many other residents came out to cheer on the cyclists along the route.
“After our first attempt at this event.. I can say that it ended as a huge success for our community,” said Angie Travares, recreation director at MODG. “We had many billets throughout the municipality and...it was heart-warming to see our municipal residents pull together to host this event.”
The Guysborough Athletic Assoc. operated the beer tent as a fundraiser. Days Gone By ran the barbecue. “(It was) a fabulous meal of ribs/chicken and salad,” said Travares. “We appreciate all the work they put in to this event to add that extra special Guysborough hospitality.”
Word of mouth was a big part of the strong participation. Carter noted that an “incredibly high percentage of registrations were on Mondays.” Many heard about the event during weekend cycling outings with friends and were inspired to sign up. Organizers also had attractive posters up at bike shops across the province and actively promoted the event on social media. Carter said only $1100 was spent on promotion.
Next year’s event is Sept. 9, 2017.