Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo
Photo: Dave Heath/ZenSeekers

Happy 2020, @IMPACT we want to help you light up the best year of your life. How to do that? Sign up for something that might put you out of your comfort zone, or register for an event that will make you train for the next nine months… read on…

There’s no doubt about it. A Gran Fondo is a long ride. But how do you want it served up? Flat and fast? Steep and nasty or maybe something in between. If you like a scenic mixed bag of terrain, the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo hits the mark with a perfect collection of hills and flats surrounded by fantastic scenery. Best of all, if the gran is too grand, there are other distances to choose.

It all starts at the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino in mid-September where the start and finish and delicious post-ride feasts are hosted. On race day the field next to the resort makes for a spacious place to park and get your kit organized.

Uncover how best to speed into 2020, go Gran Fondo, learn more here.

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The Gran Fondo riders pedalling 152 km, start at 9 a.m. while the riders in the Medio riding 102 km and the Piccolo riding 58 km cross the start line at 9:15 and 9:30.

The ride instantly starts on Mission Road while volunteers and RCMP block traffic. The route then crosses the Kimberley Highway to use the paved North Star Rails to Trails connector path. What was once a rail between Cranbrook and Kimberley is now a wide asphalt path through the trees and along scenic vistas with a few bridges crossing creeks and rivers. The easy grade is a perfect warm up for things to come.

The trail brings you right into Kimberly B.C. where the first refueling station is manned by enthusiastic volunteers in the Platzl in the middle of town. As you pull into the aid station, you’re likely to hear your name announced to the crowds. The refreshments include the usual water and power drinks along with treats and gels. While the Piccolo Fondo riders return to St. Eugene Resort using the same route in reverse, the rest of the riders continue on the route.

The course winds quickly out of Kimberley and follows Highway 95A rolling through farmland and forest. The shoulders are wide with minimal traffic passing in either direction. Signage and volunteers on Highway 95 warn drivers there is an event going on and they graciously give riders a wide berth.

The aid station near Fort Steele is at the top of one of the hills both the Gran and Medio riders will endure, but once again, those volunteers in their bright T-shirts, are there to cheer you over the apex and into the fueling station. It’s not long before the Gran riders take a hard left and cram in the extra 50 km on the out-and-back flat Wardner/Ft. Steele Road.

Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo
Photo: Dave Heath/ZenSeekers

When the Gran riders return to the main route and cross the Kootenay River, they are treated to a steep set of climbs, gaining 160 metres (525 feet) an elevation that is more than 6 km. After 86 or 136 km –that is not easy. But the ride from there to St. Eugene is so sweet!

The finish line is a colourful welcome for the riders. The announcer calls out riders’ names as they cross the line, volunteers are ready to hand out refreshing cold wash clothes, drape medals around weary necks and even take bikes to the secure bike storage. This is all so the riders can walk into the pavilion to enjoy a hearty lunch with friends and families.

Accommodations in the City of Cranbrook (about 15 mins from the start line) are plentiful and many in town welcome riders and all their gear. Plan here via Cranbrook Tourism’s accommodations’ page.

A cold beer (or two) are easy to enjoy while noshing guiltlessly on pizza right out of the wood-burning al forno oven at the Fire & Oak Restaurant on site at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort.

Get in Gear and sign up today, learn more about why from this ZenSeekers story – or register now for the 7th annual Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo happening Sept 2020.  

Set your course for the best year of your life, register today.

For more information about the Cranbrook region and other activities in the region, head to Cranbrook Tourism.