Although Parks Canada repeatedly says it has no money for monitoring wildlife populations, for enforcement or for repairs to trails, it finds money to contribute $60,000 to a Tour of Alberta bike race on the 2015 September long weekend.
Now it is considering this Gran Fondo race in June. June is the month when the ungulates are having their young, when returning migratory birds are nesting and when the bears are moving down to the valleys. In other words, one of the most critical times of year in what is supposedly a protected place.
Gran Fondo bike race planned for Jasper
Creative Commons photo
Jasper’s cyclists are abuzz with anticipation of the arrival of the Tour of Alberta in September, but what they might not know is Jasper is just a few steps away from hosting another major road cycling event this summer.
Trevor Soll, the president of Multisports Canada, submitted paperwork with Parks Canada late last fall to host a Gran Fondo bike race in Jasper June 13 and 14.
While Parks Canada hasn’t yet given the full go-ahead, in an interview Feb. 19, Soll said it has given him “conditional approval” to hold the race.
A Gran Fondo is a long-distance road cycling event in which a large number of cyclists are individually timed as they race a marked route.
Fondos have gained popularity in North America over the last five years, and Soll has wanted to hold an event like this in Jasper since that rise began.
“[Jasper] is the perfect venue for it—the roads are great and it’s one of those untapped markets: Jasper has nothing like a Gran Fondo right now,” he said.
With the Tour of Alberta rolling through town later this summer, he said his event will be a good test for people to get a glimpse of what a major road cycling event in Jasper will look like.
But it’s not just a road bike race that Soll hopes to bring to Jasper in June. Along with the Gran Fondo June 13, he also hopes to pull off a triathlon the following day.
Soll will need support from the municipality on top of permission from Parks to make all this happen. At a council meeting Feb. 17 the municipality’s culture and recreation director, Yvonne McNabb, brought the information to council.
According to McNabb, Soll’s proposal is for a Gran Fondo bike race that would see more than 200 participants sign up. Three distances would be available for the race—160, 100 and 65 kilometres—which would follow some of the same routes the Tour of Alberta cyclists will ride (such as Highway 93A and the climb to Marmot Basin).
Each distance will be open to anyone aged 16 or older.
The triathlon on June 14 will consist of a 750-metre swim, a 26-kilometre bike ride and a 5-kilometre run. There will also be a “try-it” race, with shorter distances for those looking to test the triathlon waters, and a “Kids of Steel” race for young children.
Soll said the event will be a family-friendly one with opportunities for parents and kids to take part in all kinds of different races.
He also mentioned, and McNabb confirmed, that at this point he is not asking the municipality for money, simply for support in closing roads and using some of its facilities.
He will also be looking to partner with a local charity that he hopes will provide volunteers in exchange for a donation from his organization, and fundraising from race participants.
On March 2, Soll will meet with Parks Canada representatives and other interested parties to hammer out the details of the event. He said he is currently working through a pile of documents to get everything ready, but he remains confident the race will go ahead.
“The good thing is [Parks] sees the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.