Riding the Bruce for a Good Cause

Photo Courtesy of David Knipe Photo: The starting line of the 4th annual Bruce Gravel Gran Fondo charity bike ride. The sellout event attracted over 400 riders, with all proceeds from the ride going to support the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association.

2023 Bruce Gravel Gran Fondo Sells Out Early, Attracts Over 400 Riders

Submitted by Victoria Lant

Over 400 riders participated in the 4th annual Bruce Gravel Gran Fondo charity bike ride, a sellout event held on a beautiful Fall day – October 1, 2023. All proceeds from the ride support the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association. The Biosphere Association is a registered charity that has been undertaking environmental projects on the Bruce Peninsula for the last 17 years. Projects range from fighting invasive species, to protecting streams and wetlands, water quality monitoring and Dark Sky preservation.

Photo: Mike and Jean Campbell (5th and 6th from left) and some of the key event organizers (staff photo).

According to the Biosphere Association chair, Elizabeth Thorn, “This event is our biggest fundraiser all year and enables us to do some amazing projects to protect the beauty of the Bruce, keep our water clean and our night skies breathtakingly dark for stargazing. We appreciate all the volunteers who make it a success, especially Mike Campbell, an avid cyclist, and the chief organizer of this event. Since its beginning Mike has done an outstanding job of managing it. Also, a big thanks to Jean Campbell, who organized an army of bakers to produce over 600 butter tarts! We are also very grateful to our sponsors, as we couldn’t host this event without them. Many grants require a fifty per cent matching contribution so we can really stretch these fundraising dollars to tackle some very impactful projects.” Visit BPBA.CA online to learn more.

The Gravel Gran Fondo has a loyal following and sells out months in advance. With an army of volunteers over 100 people strong, the cyclists are treated to home baking, designer shirts, and multiple water and refreshment stations with fresh fruit along the ride. Homemade butter tarts and date squares are a particular favourite with the participants! 

With four routes to choose from, ranging from 34 to 56 to 80 and up to 115 km, the event attracts riders of all abilities and all ages. One thing all the routes have in common is beautiful scenery. The ride starts in scenic Lion’s Head and heads north. Over 20 km of the longer rides follow an amazing gravel road that skirts the Georgian Bay shoreline with the lake on one side and the Niagara Escarpment on the other. The Cabot Head lighthouse is the turnaround halfway through the 80 km route, the most popular distance. Some of the route is only open for this event so it is a special privilege to travel on some of the roads which are not accessible to vehicles. 

Professional photographers are stationed along the route and offer access to the photos free of charge to all riders, an added bonus! 

An event like this couldn’t happen without the support of many sponsors, most of whom are local businesses in the Bruce. The organizers would like to recognize and thank all of the sponsors (see ad page 14).

The end of the ride is back at Lion’s Head and features a complimentary BBQ, in partnership with the local Lions Club, and featured delicious handmade burgers and fresh veggies with locally brewed Tagwerk beer for purchase … plus the camaraderie that comes from finishing a long ride together!

If you are interested in participating in the 2024 Gravel Gran Fondo, it will be held on the first Sunday of October, October 5th. Please register early to avoid disappointment as this event has been selling out earlier each year! You can follow the organization on Facebook to ensure you get notified once registration opens. 

If you would like to volunteer at the event, please email ethorn124@gmail.com. All volunteers receive a designer T-shirt, lunch and a free beer or cider at the finish line.

If you would like to sponsor the event, become a member, or donate to the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, please visit the website at https://www.brucegravelfondo.com/ and follow them on Facebook or Instagram. 

Link to photos: https://www.edmatphoto.com/Clients/20231001-Bruce-Gravel-Gran-Fondo