Guysborough’s Gran Fondo offers five scenic routes along low-traffic roads

Riders make their way along Guysborough’s historic Main Street during the 2017 Lost Shores Gran Fondo.

GUYSBOROUGH: If you’re making plans for late-summer adventure, consider including some two-wheeled fun with the third edition of Guysborough’s Lost Shores Gran Fondo on September 8.

The historic harbour-front community has quickly established a reputation for low-traffic cycling routes with magnificent ocean views. Organizers are expecting 500 smiling cyclists to take part in a day of non-competitive riding fun.

“We’re definitely a little off the beaten path,” says organizer Rob Carter. “Guysborough offers an amazing cycling venue with quiet oceanfront roads in generally excellent condition. That’s pure nectar to the skinny tire crowd who register months in advance to be part of the event.”

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Three years ago, the idea of a major cycling event in Guysborough was unimaginable. There was no local cycling presence. That was until Carter and his local photography business, Lost Shores Gallery, approached Angie Tavares, Director of Recreation for Guysborough Municipality with the idea of a Gran Fondo to promote the area as a tourist destination. Neither had ever ridden road bikes, so there was a bit of a learning curve, but now the event is considered one of the best in eastern Canada.

Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores (DEANS) tourism group recently awarded the Chief Experience Opportunity Award to Lost Shores Gran Fondo, acknowledging the excitement that has been created.

The event offers five routes from 30 km to 120 km with something for every fitness level. The 35km Intervale Loop offers a more social experience with all waterfront and no hills. The most popular ride is the 120 km Tickle Loop travelling through 20 small fishing communities and finishing along the Cobequid Chedabucto faultline that creates the rolling hills along the south shore of Chedabucto Bay. To celebrate those rolling hills, new for 2018 will be the Fear and Loathing Hill Climb, a 3 km timed grind from the Halfway Cove bridge to the lookoff. That’s a tough test after 100 km riding but some cyclists want to take home the bragging rights and a Fear and Loathing Hill Climb t-shirt. There is also a 30 km mountain bike loop on the Guysborough Rail Trail for the fat tire crowd.

Early September offers cyclists some of Nova Scotia’s finest weather, and the Fondo has been a very effective way to extend Guysborough’s fairly short tourism season. Most cars are gone by Labour Day and Fondo riders book every room within 90 minutes so there really is very little local traffic on Fondo day.

Residents have enthusiastically welcomed the event with communities like Larrys River waving their Acadian pride with a ‘Tour de France’ style cheering gallery and a fiddle. By the time cyclists get to the Queensport Light, the sounds of legendary Stan Rogers echo through the air.

Nearly 100 volunteers put on a show of Guysborough hospitality supporting registration, rest stops, motorcycle escorts, daycare and event site support.

And as a first for 2018, Guysborough’s new Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex provides a world-class facility with fitness centre, hot showers and full kitchen facilities for catering. The post-ride festivities include a feast of BBQ ribs/chicken with craft beers and live music to complete a memorable day.

For more information, routes, photos and registration, check out www.lostshoresgranfondo.ca.

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Grant McDaniel
Sports reporter Grant McDaniel is a Port Hood native, who after graduating from StFX University, joined The Reporter in 2001.