Niagara’s “Big Ride” – See the first Gran Fondo in Ontario

Gran Fondo NiagaraWinner of the 2013 GranFondo Niagara crosses the finish line

It’s a cycling trend that’s taking North America by storm! The Gran Fondo, or big ride, is a cycling tradition that got it’s start in Europe, where entire towns shut down as thousands of riders pedaled over mountain passes, through vineyards, and along famous race routes.

This year Niagara hosted the first ever Gran Fondo in Ontario! With a course that traversed lush wine country,  covered challenging escarpment terrain and started and finished at stunning Niagara Falls, it was the perfect way to welcome cyclists from across the country. Here’s a look at the race.

Gearing up

From a pre-ride and a Family Fundo Kids ride, to the GranFondo Niagara welcome area, the fun started the day before the race with lots of chances to check out the course, explore the region and mingle with other riders. Niagara rolled out the welcome mat for visiting cyclists.IMG_3019[1]

Getting prepped for the race

The Route

Early autumn in the Niagara Region is beautiful, and the GranFondo Niagara route took cyclists through some of the most beautiful parts of the area. Riders traveled through the picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake, then up and down the escarpment past wineries, farms and even Short Hills Provincial Park. Best of all, cyclists had the road to themselves. GranFondo marked the first time the Niagara Parkway has been closed for a major bike race!

Gran Fondo NiagaraWine country

The Start Line

Shortly before dawn, over 1,200 cyclists gathered at the start line of the race. The perfect sight to calm any pre-race jitters? The sun just starting to rise over Niagara Falls.

Gran Fondo NiagaraRacers gather at the Gran Fondo start line

Off to the races

The race was 125 kilometers, with a total elevation of 1100 metres, and it all kicked off  at 6:30 am. Just as the sun came up participants hit the road – including Canadian music legend Jim Cuddy and Olympian Marnie McBean!

The Home Stretch

After a grueling ride, the first group of GranFondo Niagara cyclists headed for the finish line just over 3 hours after the race started. Here’s a peek at the final kilometre of the course:

Gran Fondo Niagara

The final leg of the race

All the way to the finish line!

The first person to cross the GranFondo Niagara finish line? Toronto’s Kevin Black completed the 125km race in just 3 hours and 15 minutes, becoming the first person to win a GranFondo race in Ontario! Spectators also saw exciting finishes from other racers, including these top ten finishers:

Celebration

The party didn’t stop at the finish line – following the race, cyclists headed to celebration square to enjoy live entertainment, massages, a glass of local wine and great food.

Gran Fondo NiagaraFind out more about GranFondo Niagara here

To plan your visit to Niagara Falls and the Niagara Region click here.

 

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