The runway at the Canadian Rockies International Airport will provide the course for Ride the Runway

Cranbrook airport hosts pre- Gran Fondo cycling event

Road cyclists frustrated by the small shoulders and fast traffic on the paved roads will relish the open-tarmac opportunities presented

Road cyclists frustrated by the small shoulders and fast traffic on many of the paved roads in the Columbia Valley will relish the open-tarmac opportunities presented by a new event near Cranbrook.

Ride the Runway will give 50 cyclists the opportunity to take a spin on the tarmac of the Canadian Rockies International Airport on Friday, September 11th, the day before the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo on Saturday, September 12th.

“This is not only the first event of this sort that has come to the East Kootenay, but also the first time an event of this kind has ever been done at a commercial airport,” said airport managing director and passionate cyclist Tristen Chernove.

The 50 spots in the Ride the Runway will go, on a first come, first served basis, to cyclists signing up for the Grand Fondo.

Chernove is hoping that adding this new event is the first step in growing the Grand Fondo into a week-long bike festival.

“With some of the best road, mountain, backroad and trail riding in the world, we could see a week easily filled with world-class events,” he said. “We hope to slowly add more and more events in the future.”

The airport and the airspace will be closed for two hours for Ride the Runway, with cyclists riding a two-kilometre competitive trapezoid course on runways A and B. Rider will race to complete as many laps of the course as possible in 45 minutes, and every fourth lap will be a “bell lap” with a dedicated prize for the first cyclist to cross the line for that lap.

“It will be really exciting for spectators,” said Chernove, adding they will be able to easily watch from both in the airport or outside.

“We did a test run. It will be the experience of a lifetime for a cyclist,” said  Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo chairperson Glenn Dobie in a press release. “It’s wide and dead flat — and it’s beautiful. It’ll be like a horse race where a cyclist can average 30 to 35 kilometres per hour.”

Dobie said the airport race will help draw even more attention to the third annual Gran Fondo, which is a charitable fundraiser.

“We welcomed the (Ride the Runway) idea with open arms, it’s such a unique event,” said Dobie in the press release.

Chernove was also impressed after the test ride, and said cyclists who participated in it said they “felt as if they were flying on the incredibly smooth and the super wide track, which made it great for banking corners. There are no sidewalks, no vehicles and no obstacles of any sort. And then there are the remarkable views.”

Airports make great venues for a wide variety of social and community events and are often under-utilized in that regard, according to Chernove.

“Airports are not for just take offs and landings,” he said. “I’d really like to see the airport become a hub of community activity. We could have live music here, trade shows, and many other things.”

For more details on the event, contact Chernove at 250-426-7913 or chernove@cranbrook.ca.

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