500 expected at Saturday’s Gran Fondo

Local communities encouraged to cheer on riders

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – For some local residents, putting out the welcome map for 500 cyclists making their way to Guysborough this weekend for the third annual Lost Shores Gran Fondo includes making a bed available.

Organizer Rob Carter recently put out a notice on the Fondo’s Facebook page to seek more billets for the many visitors to MODG for the event on Saturday, Sept. 8.

“We could use a few more,” he told The Journal during an interview Monday. “If new billet rooms came available, I could probably fill them up pretty quick.”

Guysborough businessman Scott Cook also helps with accommodation needs, by making overnight parking at the Guysborough Mall available for free to Gran Fondo participants with campers.

Cyclists can choose from among ride routes of 30, 35, 50, 90 and 120 km stretching from Guysborough Intervale to Canso. Following the event, there will be a BBQ, bar and live music for participants and volunteers at the new Chedabucto Lifestyles Centre.

A recent notice delivered to residents along the routes encouraged them “to enjoy the festivities as both a spectator and local ambassador. Riders previous years have raved about our hospitality and friendly atmosphere. Please note that all forms of noise, horns, cowbells and encouragement are welcome.”

The Lost Shores Gran Fondo is a collaborative effort between Rob Carter of Lost Shores Gallery and MODG. Carter primarily looks after registrations, promotion and marketing, and MODG Recreation looks after logistics — including recruitment and support for a large team of volunteers.

With three years in partnership, Carter said the parties have a “pretty solid game plan now.

“We’re always learning, but by the third round it’s pretty refined.”

Riders will visit over 20 local communities supported by escort vehicles and seven drink/snack stops. This is not a competitive race so riders are equally interested in fun as much as fitness.

This year’s registrations show the event’s appeal building well beyond Nova Scotia, with a big New Brunswick presence, as well as strong numbers from Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

“I’m particularly surprised by the numbers form Alberta and B.C.,” said Carter.

The best viewing sites include the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex 9-9:30 a.m, Larrys River 9:30-10:30 a.m., Canso 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and Queensport 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Organizers added a competitive feature this year called the “Fear and Loathing in Lost Shores Hill Climb,” in Halfway Cove. Riders will first pedal 100 km and then race from the Halfway Cove bridge to the Lookoff.

Carter told The Journal that over the past three years of the Gran Fondo, he’s learned that “we don’t have to wait for the rest of the world to promote our corner. We don’t have to wait for the provincial government or anyone else to promote tourism here.

“The demand is there,” he said. “Not that many places do it as well as we do it. We attend to detail in a fashion that leaves a very positive impression of Guysborough.”