Picture a throng of spandex-clad cyclists swarming through some of the most spectacular scenery in Canada: this is the essence of the RBC Gran Fondo, taking place in Banff on Saturday August 24th. It’s not a race, per se. But it’s not simply a casual sightseeing tour either. The 142 km course, which boasts a hefty 800m of elevation gain, tests the endurance of even the most experienced riders. It’s a challenge that rewards not with the thrill of victory but with the satisfaction of personal accomplishment.
Gran Fondo in Italian means “Big Ride”, which speaks both to the large number of simultaneous participants in this style of cycling event and also the length of the course, which, in this case, travels around tunnel mountain, along the shores of Lake Minnewanka, through the downtown core of Banff and across the scenic Bow Valley Parkway. RBC’s annual Banff Gran Fondo is the only Gran Fondo in North America that takes place entirely within the bounds of a national park, making this event as much about the cycling as the setting.
While the course is gruelling, the RBC Gran Fondo isn’t just all work and no play. Once the last cyclist has passed the finish line, it’s time to break out the champagne. Throughout the day following the main event, participants and their entourage can enjoy live music and entertainment, food and refreshments, fun activities for kids and even massage services (likely much needed).
Registration to ride in the RBC Gran Fondo is open to everyone and costs $250, for which you’ll get a special time chip to track your performance, a ride to the finish line if you can’t get there on your own and a commemorative keepsake when it’s all said and done. In addition, riders get access to 4 rest stops set up along the course to provide water, electrolyte supplements, energy bars, washroom facilities, repair services and first aid.
If you’re seeking hotel accommodation for the RBC Gran Fondo, we invite you to stay at the BEST WESTEN PLUS Pocaterra Inn, located just 20 minutes from Banff in Canmore, Alberta. With better value than many Banff hotels, we offer our guests a deluxe complimentary breakfast, well-equipped exercise facility and modern in-room amenities. Book your stay today.