Gran fondos are big in Europe and they have been for decades. The term might make you think of a soft felt hat (as in a fedora) or maybe even melted cheese (as in fondue), but, in fact, the words loosely translated from Italian mean “big ride” as in big “bicycle” ride. The massive cycling events are gaining pedal power in North America too and this summer the organizers behind Canada’s first large-scale gran frondo (Whistler 2010) are doing it again, three times. Parts of BC’s Okanagan near Kelowna, Alberta’s Banff National Park and Whistler, BC’s Sea to Sky Highway will be closed to traffic and open to cyclists only on July 14, August 25 and September 8, respectively. The Kelowna and Whistler events are 122 kilometres from start to finish; Banff’s is 142 kilometres. You can register for about half the route in Kelowna and Whistler, the latter of which is only accepting 7000 riders. All ages and skill levels are welcome; Gran fondos people emphasize that “these are not races.” Registration: from $175 to $250. granfondocanada.com. [CC]
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.