Submitted by Tim Little, BPBA Board Member
On October 6th, 2019, the “Lighthouse to Lighthouse Gravel Gran Fondo” debuts on the Bruce.
This fully supported long distance cycling event features the world famous turquoise waters of the Georgian Bay shoreline. Participants can choose between three rides of varying lengths (80 km, 56 km, and 30km) and follow backcountry gravel roads, cliff-top paths and trails under forest canopies ablaze in the region’s renowned fall colours. One route will include a segment of the world- famous Bruce Trail, an extraordinary opportunity (for which riders must dismount and walk their bikes) granted by special permission of the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
All three rides start and finish at the iconic Lion’s Head lighthouse. The longest route features 20 km of a best-kept-secret road bordered on one side by the emerald Georgian Bay shoreline and on the other side by the towering Niagara Escarpment. The picturesque Cabot Head Lighthouse marks the turn-around point for the 80km route. Each route was chosen to be accessible to all fitness levels while offering a variety of challenges, including rolling topography, tight turns and various unpaved surfaces. Entry fees start at $60Cdn for the shortest route. All indications are that early registration for this family-friendly event is a very good idea!
The day-long event is the latest and most ambitious eco-adventure presented by MyEcoAventures.ca, a learning-based adventure organization working on behalf of the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association. Mike Campbell, a BPBA Board Member and avid long distance cyclist, came up with the idea as “an excellent fund raiser for the Biosphere Association–combining the outdoors and adventure for a good cause.” Mike pointed out that most Gravel Fondos are races. “However, the Lighthouse to Lighthouse is not a race,” he said. “It’s a fun event, a journey where people can ride together, explore and enjoy the camaraderie and the beauty of The Bruce.”
Large cycling events first started in Europe in the 1970s. Gran Fondo loosely translates as Big Ride in Italian. Gravel Fondos (a.k.a. Gravel Grinders) are a new trend started in North America just over 10 years ago. The Lighthouse to Lighthouse event promises to be distinctive by offering a unique setting with premium services (fresh food stations, beer gardens, booths offering locally renowned butter tarts and gourmet coffee) while maintaining the highest standards of environmental protection.
Proceeds from the event support initiatives of the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, a registered charity aiming to preserve the Peninsula for future generations. “The mandate of the Biosphere Reserve,” said Mike, “is to promote living and working in the area without compromising its ecological integrity.” The Lighthouse to Lighthouse Gravel Gran Fondo is an exciting result of that mandate and spotlights the powerful potential of it. This year’s event is sponsored by local businesses and supported by a variety of community groups.
Additional programs of the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association go directly to support conservation, stewardship and sustainable economic development. BPBA work includes improving water quality, control of invasive plant species, conservation of forest connectivity and celebrating and protecting our dark skies on the Bruce Peninsula.
More can be discovered about the Bruce Peninsula environment, a biodiversity hotspot, and how we can work together to protect it at bpba.ca.