First responders gather with organizers of the 2018 Bluewater International Granfondo to launch the 3rd annual event. February 6, 2018 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

Plans Rolled Out For 2018 Granfondo

Healthy rivalries between first responders are expected to boost attendance at the 2018 Bluewater International Granfondo.

As many as 1000 cyclists will be welcomed to the area this summer, up from the 750 from across Canada and the U.S., who participated last year.

A group gathered to launch the event at Tourism Sarnia-Lambton on Venetian Blvd. Tuesday morning.

Event Chair Ken MacAlpine says they’re doing something new this year.

“This year were introducing the First Responder Road Cycling Championship, which is covering all first responders [police, fire and EMS] primarily in Ontario but if first responders came from outside the province that would be ok too,” says MacAlpine.

Sarnia Police Inspector Jeff Hodgson has participated in the event since it started in 2016 and is already recruiting coworkers.

“What I really enjoy are the Wednesday night warm up rides or the training rides,” says Hodgson. “There are 12 of them leading up to the event and they are a really good training component. We also get safety talks, bike mechanic talks, those type of things. It’s just a great event all the way around.”

The third annual event, being held August 5, will again include 50 k, 100 k and 150 k routes starting and finishing at Mike Weir Park.

$80,000 has been raised for St. Joseph’s Hospice and Palliative Care at Bluewater Health so far, and organizers hope total donations will surpass $100,000 this year.

Early registration is encouraged and can be done online at www.BIGF.ca

The “Granfondo”, an Italian word meaning “great big race”, will offer timed sections with relaxed biking in-between.