RECAP: The first annual L’Alpe de Grand Blanc road bike race
Saturday morning saw 60 riders take to the road to compete in Big White’s first annual L’Alpe de Grand Blanc road bike race.
Despite difficult weather conditions – including heavy rain, strong winds, limited visibility and cold temperatures – riders did their best to battle it out in both the full 58km race from Kelowna to Big White and the half-length 23km race.
The winner of the full 58km race was Conor Martin, a 14-year-old Kelowna local, who made it to the finish line in just one hour, 57 minutes and 38 seconds.
Conor, who started BMX at the age of eight and has been road-racing for a few years, admitted that he expected the race to be closer: “I didn’t think I would break away at the very beginning. It was a good race.”
Conor on the winner's podium with Loose and Lucy Moose
First place in the women’s division of the full race was taken by Helena Coney who completed the 58km in two hours, 26 minutes and 57 seconds.
Although Helena raced as a teenager, this is her first year getting back into racing as an adult. “Big White inspired me to get into shape by having an event like this,” she said. “The race was really hard and the weather made it especially challenging, but it was so well organized and really amazing.”
In true Tour de France tradition, both Conor and Helena went home with Polka Dot Jerseys, along with $500 in cash and a prize from Okanagan Springs.
Winners of the 23km half race were also rewarded, with Blaine Melnyk taking out the first place for men and Annie Bergen winning first place for women.
Some riders also chose to pair up as teams, with the first team over the line being the “Old Amigos”, Ray Morrison, John Davina and Erik Rayson. Friends since the early 1980s, the three men have competed in a number of competitions together throughout North America and said that the race was “awesome”. “There was great camaraderie on the road, no confusion with the course, and the support vehicles were great,” they said.
Even co-founder of Big White Ski Resort, Cliff Serwa, took the time to experience Big White in a very different way by participating in the race with granddaughter and Olympian Kelsey Serwa.
Cliff Serwa and Kelsey Serwa cross the finish line
The L’alpe de Grand Blanc also included a free 2km race for kids, as well as free massages, live music, a kids carnival and BBQ in the Village Centre Mall after the event.
Senior Vice-President Michael J. Ballingall said: “We know winter really well, but we just started summer. This event – in a rainstorm and six degrees in the Village – gives us every reason to do it again, and again, and again. The spirit of the riders is overwhelming and fits right in with our family resort philosophy. We’d like to thank all of the participants for battling through the weather.”
L’Alpe de Grand Blanc is now set to become a yearly event, with Okanagan Springs already signed on to sponsor next year’s event. Future years will see the addition of cash prizes for winners, as well as an expanded weekend festival of cycling.
To learn more about future events coming up at Big White, please click here.