After a successful debut last year, the GranFondo Fan Zone is back for 2013.
The Fan Zone, running from 8 a.m. to noon at the Garibaldi Village Mall, will be the local hub of activity for the Sept. 7 event that sees thousands of competitors wheel their way through Squamish. For this first time, the Fan Zone will host the brand new Squamish Sprint.
The Sprint is a concept adapted from the Tour de France that sees all competitors race in a timed 500-metre stretch in front of the Fan Zone.
“The exciting part about the Sprint is that it won’t necessarily be won by the winner of the event,” said Fan Zone organizer Shannon Lorenz. “It could be somebody who may have taken seven hours to ride the Fondo but they were just a crazy sprinter.”
Lorenz explained that there will be a timing mat just before the Highway 99 and Mamquam Road intersection and riders will sprint as fast as they can to just south of the pedestrian overpass at Garibaldi Village Mall. The fastest male and female will each receive $500 from Corsa Cycles for their efforts.
The Sprint isn’t the only thing going on at the Fan Zone, as more than 25 local vendors set up displays offering information and giveaways to all in attendance.
“A lot of people are implementing their personal services at their tent,” Lorenz said, noting there’s everything from massages to makeup on site. “It’s a good opportunity to meet and greet with local business owners and it’s a great way for businesses to connect with the public.”
Lorenz said she thinks the Fan Zone has helped ease some of the tension that Squamish residents felt in the inaugural year of the GranFondo.
“I think it’s important to invite the community to an event like this and it’s a really nice central spot to cheer on the riders,” she said. “The Fondo has really embraced local businesses. It’s not like, ‘Sorry, the highway is closed,’ but it’s, ‘Here’s a cool spot to hang out and get everyone together to cheer.’ Local businesses were excited at the turnout last year and more businesses got involved this year.”
The Fan Zone will also be the start of the 55-kilometre Medio race. The District of Squamish and the Squamish First Nation will welcome participants in front of Tantalus Bikes and competitors will head onto Mamquam Road and merge onto Highway 99 for the race.
There are also plenty of options for kids, with activities like face painting, kids’ crafts and a bicycle helmet safety check being put on by Canadian Tire.
“The main message is it’s all about the community connecting and having fun and it’s done by noon,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz added that people should also check out the Brackendale Fall Fair, happening later in the day.
“Another thing I’ve tried to work on is promoting it as a day in Squamish,” she said. “Do the Fan Zone in the morning and the Fall Fair after.”
For more information on the Fan Zone and the GranFondo, visit www.rbcgranfondowhistler.com.