The organizers of Gran Fondo Niagara Falls sent out invites to a pre-ride event on May 11, 2013 and I was lucky enough to get one. The plan was to ride a portion of the actual Gran Fondo route that riders will follow in September. I was really looking forward to participating in the pre-ride to get out for a good ride, meet some people that I had only corresponded with electronically, and experience what a Gran Fondo Canada event is all about. I wasn’t disappointed with any of these three expectations!
The weather wasn’t great – after a few weeks of warm, sunny days the clouds, cold and wind weren’t welcome. That being said, with a couple extra layers the ride was quite comfortable. The rain stayed away and everyone seemed to stay warm.
Gran Fondo Canada pulled out all the stops for this pre-ride. The start/finish area was Jackson-Triggs Estate Winery, a beautiful facility with great staff. We arrived to tables full of water bottles, gels, hydration mix, water, coffee, and anything else you might need prior to a ride. After signing in, we chose whether to ride a 50km or 90km route. I chose 90km so I could take full advantage of having this available time for a ride. Each of the distances had a number of group leaders from a local cycling team – Team 905. They did a great job keeping us on the right track.
The route had a couple of fully stocked aid stations set up – more gels, candies, and waffles from Honey Stinger and lots of water and fruit to keep us fuelled up. We were definitely spoiled on this group ride!
Eventually we made it back to Jackson-Triggs where a great lunch reception awaited us. We refilled the tanks with a delicious lunch and lots of wine from the folks at Jackson-Triggs. Everything was perfect, and I was wishing I came back to that after every ride!
Following lunch Dean Hachey shared his passion for Gran Fondo Niagara Falls, and updated us with some great news about the event. He described how Gran Fondo Niagara Falls will benefit a number of causes like Share the Road, The Big Move Ride to support the local Walker Family Cancer Centre, and Variety Village. Dean also broke the news that the Niagara Wine Festival would be extended by 1 weekend to coincide with Gran Fondo Niagara Falls. This is awesome, and hopefully people will come down and experience the region by bike, and then by sampling its wine!
I put together a little video to give a feel for some of the terrain and scenery along the part of the route we rode at the pre-ride. Hopefully the weather in September will be even better, and the scenery even more beautiful. This will be such a unique experience, and I can’t wait to share it with thousands of other cyclists. This pre-ride gave me full confidence that Gran Fondo Canada will make sure that each one of the participants has a great experience, no matter what level of cyclist they may be.