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Boutique bike race making ‘Gran’ return

The 2019 Jasper Gran Fondo. | File photo

Jason Stockfish | advertising@fitzhugh.ca

MultiSportsCanada’s Gran Fondo boutique bike race will return to Jasper on June 4 after a two-year pandemic interruption.

This year will mark the sixth Gran Fondo hosted in Jasper National Park.

Started in 2014, the race is the only event of its kind to take place entirely within the boundaries of a Canadian national park, noted Trevor Soll, the founder and director of MultiSportsCanada.

The number of riders is capped at 400, and there are already over 300 participants registered for the event.

“People are excited to be out and about and want to take part,” Soll said.

“Our numbers are looking quite good for this year’s event and the highest (turnout) we’ve had.”

There are five routes for participants to choose from, ranging in distance from 65 km to 190 km.

All of the riders begin and end at Commemoration Park with the routes diverging along the way.

The shortest of the routes, and the one with the least amount of elevation gain (601 metres), is the new E-bike Fondo, which offers people an electric option to the Piccolo Fondo route.

Participants in this race will turn off Highway 93 onto 93A after passing through the south park gates and follow the road to Athabasca Falls. 

Riders then turn north when the road intersects with the Icefields Parkway to begin making their way back to Jasper. 

“More and more people have e-bikes, and this is an option for those that may not think they can push themselves through 65 km.”

The longest route is the190k Forte Fondo.

While the event is capped at 75 participants, Soll noted that due to its difficulty the cap has never been an issue.

“There’s a real niche market of riders that want to do that in one day.”

In addition to covering 190 km, the route involves a grueling 2,339 metres of elevation gain as it includes two mountain climbs, with the first up to Marmot Basin’s lower chalet, followed by an ascent to Edith Cavell hostel.

After Forte participants have climbed both of these mountain roads, they continue their ride until they reach their turnaround point at the staff complex at Poboktan Creek.

Those taking part in the Forte must qualify to do so. 

Slightly less demanding than the Forte at 165 km and 1,691 metres of elevation gain, the Gran Fondo race follows the same route as the Forte, but it does not include the second climb up Edith Cavell Road. 

The aptly named Medio Fondo covers a little over half the ground of the Forte, as riders travel 100 km, gain 1,338 metres of elevation and make their way up to Marmot Basin before following 93A to their turnaround point at the Icefields Parkway intersection.

Last is the appropriately named 126 k Leg Burner route, which includes the same two mountain climbs as the Forte, but riders turn around at Goatlick as opposed to riding 32 km further to Poboktan before returning to Jasper.

Over the years, MultiSportsCanada has partnered with the Jasper Historical Society for the event, raising donations from riders and others for the community organization.

“Those funds that we raise for them obviously go to a great cause and it’s a great partnership,” Soll said.

For more details on the Jasper Gran Fondo, visit www.granfondo-jasper.ca

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