HUNTSVILLE - Jim Brendish’s gift to the cycling community seven years ago now has some new wrapping on it.
The 2012 Spin The Lakes Bike Tour, seen here in this file shot, was the biggest one in the seven-year history of the event. Now, with the aid of a promotional company, organizer Jim Brendish thinks the event can one day reach 1,000 riders.
The founder and organizer of the Spin the Lakes Bike Tour has come to an agreement with GranFondo Canada, an event management company based in Western Canada that says it is committed to providing cycling events in renowned locations.
The company will promote the May 24 to 25 event to the cycling public. The ride includes 170-, 110- and 50-kilometre routes with a 20-km route for the novice rider.
“I think that in the end this will mean more numbers for the ride and also bring more community awareness to cycling and safety. Also, I think it will mean more people coming up to Huntsville and in turn, more heads in beds for the local tourism economy,” Brendish said.
He said that GranFondo Canada officials had wanted to take its business into eastern Canada and felt that Spin the Lakes would be a good fit in its portfolio.
“What they are doing is contacting communities where there are existing rides and they are partnering up with the rides to help their business and to promote cycling in local areas,” he said. “They come to the table with a bit of clout, some sponsorships and that will only help our ride grow and expand.”
Brendish said in the end, the ride format is not going to change, other than the inclusion of more promotional aspects. That, and the fact the ride is abandoning its traditional Sunday timeline and moving the rides to Saturday.
“This will mean more people will stay longer in Muskoka, as opposed to coming up on Saturday or even Sunday for the ride. My theory for having a Sunday ride in the first place was that there was less going on and the roads were a little less busy. Now, they will come with their families on Friday, ride on Saturday and head back on Sunday in time for work on Monday.”
Dean Hachey, director of business development, GranFondo Canada, said his group is excited to be a partner with Spin The Lakes.
“We look forward to working with the local organizing committee on this year’s Spin the Lakes event, in support of cycling in Huntsville and in Ontario. Our organization’s focus is on the rider experience and as such we look forward to lending our expertise to the already excellent framework in place for this ride,” he said.
While the ride routes will stay the same, there will be more to offer families at the weekend event than in previous years, courtesy of the new affiliation with GranFondo Canada.
There will now be a free FamilyFundo Kids Ride at Hidden Valley Resort on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to all children 12 years of age and younger. The event will feature a bike course, and all children will have the chance to learn about bike safety and some tips on maintenance, along with an awards ceremony and barbecue.
The 2012 Spin The Lakes was the best attended in the ride’s seven-year history, with more than 400 cyclists hitting the roads in north Muskoka. Brendish thinks that with GranFondo Canada’s participation, the ride may someday soon reach that 1,000 mark that he has been dreaming of since he started the ride.
“It hopefully will bring in more riders. Every year, the ride increased around 50 or 60 people. Eight years ago I had 180 riders and last year, we had 400. That came about definitely by word of mouth. My goal this year is 500 riders. I always had a goal to reach 1,000 riders and I am still working toward that. I think that it will definitely grow to that number.”
Brendish said that some of the proceeds from the Spin The Lakes will go to Share the Road Cycling Coalition, a provincial cycling advocacy and policy organization created to unite cycling organizations from across Ontario, work with and on behalf of municipalities to enhance their ability to make their communities more bicycle- friendly and advocate for an enhanced provincial role.