Riders wanting to hitch a ride make their way along a flat stretch of the 100-kilometre circuit in last year's Branch Out Bike Tour.

Branch Out Bike Tour returns

Over 200 spandex-clad road cyclists from Alberta will be spinning their wheels around Lake Windermere on Saturday, June 16.

Over 200 spandex-clad road cyclists from Alberta will be spinning their wheels around Lake Windermere on Saturday, June 16 as a fundraiser for neurological disorders, and event organizers are hoping to see some Columbia Valley locals join in on the ride.

The Branch Out Neurological Foundation (BONF) is bringing back its Branch Out Bike Tour after last year’s successful inaugural event raised over $40,000.

“We get so much support from local companies and groups, they make it really special,” said foundation president Crystal Phillips. “Everyone from Mayor Taft and the group at Gerry’s Gelati to the outstanding staff at Panorama Village; they really help us out wherever they can.”

Like last year, the 100-kilometre road ride will begin in Panorama Mountain Village and descend to Invermere, then head out to Highway 93/95 where it will circumnavigate the lake by going through Fairmont and returning back to Invermere along Westside Road. There will be volunteer-run rest stops along the route as well as cheer crowds and support vehicles.

Riders will have the option to hammer up the hill for the complete 100-km circuit or end at the rest stop in town and enjoy a free Gerry’s Gelati ice cream for a less intensive 80-km loop before being bussed back to Panorama.

The bulk of registrants are from Calgary and Edmonton with some from St. Albert, and includes a number of star Olympians from the various disciplines of speed skating, luge and downhill skiing. There’s a chance one or two NHL hockey players might make it out as well, Phillips said.

Riders gather pledges before the bike tour and 90 cents to the dollar go towards Branch Out’s cause, which is to fund research and alternative therapies for neurological disorders, she said. Prizes are given out to the top fundraisers.

“There’s no minimum amount,” Phillips said. “We just encourage people to raise as much as they can.”

For the full experience, the cost is $150, which includes two nights stay at Panorama Mountain Village, a rider’s package, breakfast, lunch and snacks at rest stops along the route, as well as a post-ride dinner banquet complete with entertainment provided by Her and Us, a Canmore-Calgary band. For everything but accommodation, registration is $100.

For more information on the Branch Out Neurological Foundation and Bike Tour, and to register, visit branchoutfoundation.com.


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