A brisk and windy morning greeted more than 800 cyclists pedalling in the second Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie, an event that showcases Acadian culture and historic sights.

Acadian flags welcomed the riders and people came out of their houses along the route that began in Saulnierville, N.S., to cheer the riders who were pedalling 117 kilometres along the French shore.

'Air of excitement'

Gran Fondo Baie Sainte Marie

Gran Fondo has become a trend in North America with the cycling boom. (Colleen Jones/CBC)

"The Gran Fondo brings people and an air of excitement to Clare," said Pam Doucet, chairperson of the event. "It celebrates a healthy lifestyle and a joy of community."

Gran Fondo means big ride in Italian. Long popular in Europe, they have become a trend in North America. The Baie Sainte-Marie event was the first place in the province to embrace this trend.

Big ride, big money

It's been a hit with participation more then doubling in the second year to almost 900 riders, making it the largest Gran Fondo east of Quebec.

Doucet said the economic effect is huge.

"We had a study done and the economic impact for the province was a quarter of a million dollars. This year, with twice the number of participants we expect double the economic impact," she said. 

But Doucet said the event has a secondary importance as well. 

"It's the community involvement. We have a waiting list of people wanting to volunteer and we have a lot of people from Clare riding in the event," she said.

There were shorter distances of 35 kilometres and 67 kilometres for cyclists to ride, but the majority of participants are doing 117 kilometres.