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Posted: August 14, 2015

50 Gran Fondo cyclists to ride the tarmac

Fifty cyclists will get to warm up for the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo in a way no cyclist in North America has every done before – by riding a bike on the tarmac of a working international airport.

As part of the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo weekend, 50 riders who register for the annual event can sign up on a first-come, first-served basis to ‘Ride the Runway’ at the Canadian Rockies International Airport. It all happens the day before the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo event on Sept. 12.

Tristen Chernove, left, at CRIA
Tristen Chernove, left, at CRIA

Cranbrook’s YXC might just be the first airport in North America to host a cycling event like this, says Tristen Chernove, a passionate cyclist and managing director of the airport.

One of his goals is to use the airport as a community hub. “Airports are not for just take offs and landings, they can be places for events, experiences and other social events.” And that includes getting people primed for the Gran Fondo using the airport for ‘Ride the Runway’.

“I’ve wished to see the Gran Fondo grow into a cycling festival week and this is the first step,” said Chernove. “With some of the best road, mountain and backroad and trail adventure riding in the world, we could see a week easily filled with world-class events.”

Glenn Dobie, chair of the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo, says the tarmac ride will help draw attention to the third annual Gran Fondo, which helps raise funds to promote cycling in the Cranbrook to Kimberley area and other charities.

Ride the Runway 1“We welcomed the idea with open arms; it’s such a unique event,” said Dobie.

The airport and the airspace will be closed for two hours to accommodate the cyclists who will take part in a two-kilometre competitive trapezoid course on runways A and B.

“We did a test run; it will be an experience of a lifetime for a cyclist,” said Dobie. “It’s wide and dead flat – and it’s beautiful. It’ll be like a horse race where a cyclist can average 30 to 35 kilometres per hour.”

After a test ride, cyclists “felt like they were flying on the incredibly smooth and the super wide track, which made it great for banking corners,” said Chernove.”And then there are the remarkable views.”

Friends and family can watch the action from a viewing station that will be set up on the sidelines.

“You look directly into the face of the Rocky Mountains, seeing Fisher Peak at 9,000 feet – and then to the right The Steeples at 8,500 feet,” said Dobie.

Dobie calls the Gran Fondo “a social, cultural party on wheels.”

Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo is an organized, mass participation non-competitive cycling event. Gran Fondo literally means ‘big ride’ in Italian.

The Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo has three distances for cyclists to choose from; Piccolo (58 km), Medio (102 km) and Gran (152 km). All proceeds from the ride go to local charities and cycling trails in the Cranbrook and Kimberley area. http://krgf.ca

The Canadian Rockies International Airport is owned by the Corporation of the City of Cranbrook and is managed and operated by Elevate Airports Inc. YXC is located in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia and offers several flights daily to and from Vancouver and Calgary.

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