GranFondo cycling event expected to draw 1,500 riders

Thousands of cyclists will take to the pavement in a new premier cycling event that will wind through Langley and Abbotsford.

This July, the back roads of Langley will be jammed with traffic, but not the vehicle kind.

Thousands of cyclists will take to the pavement in a new premier cycling event that will wind through Langley and Abbotsford.

The Prospera Valley GranFondo is the first mass cycling event of its kind in the Fraser Valley.

Fort Langley will play host to the event on July 22 providing food and entertainment throughout the day.

Organized by not-for-profit association Canadian Velo Event Management Society and Prospera Credit Union, half of the proceeds will be donated to Special Olympics B.C. to provide sports programs for those with disabilities.

“The goal, first and foremost, is to raise funds for Special Olympics. Secondly, our goals of course are to have a world class event take place here in Langley and to create a cycling legacy whereby hosting events like this we bring attention to the fact that this is incredible cycling territory,” said George Lacny, community liaison and media relations manager for Canadian Velo Event Management Society.

“[We want] to give a better interface between cyclists and riders in the area. The more people see the benefits of cycling, the more that they will welcome cyclists on the road.

“It’s a win-win for everyone.”

There are three different routes in the Valley GranFondo to encompass cyclists of all ages and skill levels, whether they are passionate road cyclists, riders new to the sport, or families with children.

This is not a race. It is a timed event with a focus on celebrating the sport and enjoying the scenery of the Fraser Valley.

“What makes it unique is the fact that it has a little bit of something for everyone,” Lacny said.

“We have a FamilyFondo for children. There is a 160 km GranFondo which will appeal to the more hardcore road cyclists, and there’s a MedioFondo, which at 80 km is an attainable goal for those who are just entering the world of road cycling. It gives them a target and something to look forward to and to build towards.”

The majority of the ride follows quiet country roads winding through flat prairie areas, up Sumas Mountain and along the Fraser River valley.

The event route is meant to capture the experience of a traditional European GranFondo.

The 160 km GranFondo route starts in Fort Langley and heads out along southern country roads to 0 Avenue, where it continues through Arnold, along the Sumas Prairie, and over Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford.

Riders then head back to Fort Langley through the Matsqui flats and Glen Valley. This route is for cyclists 19 and older.

The 80 km MedioFondo is designed for novice riders, and goes from Fort Langley, south to 0 Avenue, through Bradner and Glen Valley back to Fort Langley.

This route is for cyclists age 16 and older looking for a GranFondo introductory run.

The 3 km FamilyFondo is a scenic route for kids and parents to ride. Winding throughout Fort Langley, the route is entirely on flat ground and does not mix with traffic.

There will be an aid station set up at the 1.5 km point with refreshments and a rest station. This route is for kids ages 8-12 and their guardians.

“The Fraser Valley is probably one of the worst kept secrets as being one of the best cycling areas in B.C., if not Canada,” Lacny said.

“You will actually see cyclists from Vancouver who drive out to the Fraser Valley on the weekends in order to ride on the incredible road systems that we have out here.”

Beginning at the 7 a.m. kickoff of event, entertainment and festivities will take place throughout the day at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

Cyclists will also receive a special First Nations feast after they complete their route.

Organizers say the event will draw participants from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, BC Interior, and even Alberta and Washington State.

Registration for all three legs of the event are now open at www.valleygranfondo.com.

Only 1,500 spots are available, and Lacny anticipates the event will sell out quickly.

Volunteer opportunities are also available at the website.

For more, visit the “2012 Prospera Valley GranFondo, MedioFondo, and FamilyFondo” Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @ValleyGranFondo.