Nova Scotia

'You can't find a room in Clare': Another banner year for Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie

The Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie in southwest Nova Scotia has set a record for the number of participants in the annual cycling race, topping 1,000 this year.

About 20% of this year's participants are from out of province

Larry Peach, tourism manager for the Municipality of Clare, says the race has a big economic impact on the community. (Stephanie Blanchet/CBC)

The Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie in southwest Nova Scotia has set a record for the number of participants in the annual cycling race, topping 1,000 this year.

Now in its fourth year, participants can do routes ranging from 35 to 160 kilometres.

The weather for Sunday's race was great.

"The sun is shining, it's warming up, there's no wind whatsoever, it's just an awesome day for a bike ride," said Larry Peach, the tourism manager for the Municipality of Clare.

There were more than 1,000 participants signed up for this year's Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie in southwest Nova Scotia. (Stephanie Blanchet/CBC)

Of the more than 1,000 participants registered this year, about 200 were from out of province, including Australia, Austria and the U.S.

Peach said the race attracts people because of its scenic route, but it's the hospitality that brings people back.

Part of that hospitality comes from the 200 volunteers who work to put on the race, as well as the residents that make the cyclists feel at home.

"They get out and cheer on the sides of roads, they bring out Acadian flags, pots and pans and cowbells," said Peach. "It's quite a sight to see. The residents, they embrace this event."

Residents cheer on participants along the race route. (Stephanie Blanchet/CBC)

The event has grown to be the largest cycling event east of Quebec. Peach said it taps into the popularity of active living and cycling.

Peach said the event has a big impact on the local economy.

"You can't find a room in Clare," he said. "All the AirBNBs are filled up."

With files from Stephanie Blanchet

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