The Association is celebrating the event’s fifth anniversary by holding New Brunswick’s first ever Gran Fondo. “A Gran Fondo is an Italian-style cycling event that loosely translates to mean everything from “great foundation”, “great distance”, or “great endurance.” said Arthur Thomson, Vice President of the New Brunswick Lung Association.
The Bike for Breath will include all of the hallmarks of a Gran Fondo including multiple distance routes for everyone from beginners to pros, timing segments along the routes, and an after-ride celebration called the “Chill-Out” featuring local food, a Picaroons Craft Beer tasting, and special prizes and awards. “While there is timing segments on the routes, the Bike for Breath is not a race. Rather, people use Gran Fondos to challenge themselves against the clock, challenge the distance they have chosen, or simply ride for fun,” said Thomson.
All of the routes depart Fredericton, and trace along the St. John River. Ron Jenkins, a volunteer organizer and route designer said “The Bike for Breath is a unique ride. The natural beauty of the St. John River, the rolling rural landscape, and all of the bridge and ferry crossings that the participants experience give the event a flavour that can only be found in New Brunswick. It is something cyclists from all over North America should experience.”
The funds raised in the 2015 Bike for Breath will go toward New Brunswick Lung Association Programs including the annual Asthma Camp for Children, the Lung Transplant Support Program, and national lung health research programs. This includes monies raised through registration fees and participant fundraising.
Krystal Freake, who rode in her fist Bike for Breath in 2012 and was the top fundraiser that year said “I do it for fun, and to help raise funds for the New Brunswick Lung Association. I have Cystic Fibrosis, and I want to do all I can to help now because I may need the Association’s help in the future. I encourage all riders to set up a personal donation page – you’ll be surprised how many of your friends and family will step up to support your ride!”
While there have always been awards and prizes for funding, this year’s top prize is getting a big boost. WestJet, which recently began flights out of Fredericton, will be providing a voucher round trip flights for two to any WestJet destination. A participant can earn one entry into the prize draw for every $500 they fundraise. While fundraising is not required to participant in the Bike for Breath, “WestJet hopes that the prize will encourage participants to fundraise and make their ride count for more when it comes to improving lung health,” said Julie Smith, Station Manager for WestJet Encore in Moncton and Fredericton. “We are proud to support the New Brunswick Lung Association and all the great work they do in New Brunswick communities.”
Picaroons Traditional Ales has been a sponsor of the Bike for Breath since the first event in 2011. Owner Sean Dunbar would lead the riders in a post-ride beer tasting during the “Chill-Out” celebration. This year, they have gone one step further, and will be hosting the entire event at the Picaroons Roundhouse. The historical property, once a rail roundhouse owned by Alexander “Boss” Gibson, is currently being renovated to accommodate Picaroons Brewery and will feature community space. The Bike for Breath Gran Fondo will be the first event at the new facility.
In order to accommodate out-of-town participants, the Crown Plaza Fredericton Lord Beaver Brook Hotel is providing special room rates to Bike for Breath registrants, and Downtown Fredericton will be providing Downtown Dining Discount Cards for the weekend. Other special events may be organized based on how long visiting cyclists plan to stay in the city. “The amount of support we receive for this event grows each year. We are humbled at what our sponsors and supporters will do to make sure we have the best event possible, and to maximize the benefit to lung health in New Brunswick,” said Thomson.
To register for the event, people are encouraged to visit the website at bikeforbreath.ca. There they can register for the route they want to ride, purchase an official Jersey, and can even create their own fundraising page. Remember,
“When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”