One benefit of volunteering for the Valley GranFondo in July will be the rush of watching a thousand cyclists go by up close. (Langley Advance Times files)

Excitement building around Fort Langley for 8th annual Valley GranFondo

GranFondo organization looking to top up its volunteer pool

By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times

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Volunteers are “starting to trickle in,” but the Valley Granfondo still has about 100 openings on its roster for helpers.

That’s what it will take to get the bicycle wheels rolling out of Fort Langley when the The 8th Annual Prospera Valley GranFondo gets underway on July 20.

Officially, in the original Italian tradition, Gran Fondos are planned bicycle rides of at least 120 kilometres, but the July event starting from and ending in Fort Langley is laid out in three course lengths, from a full 160 km for serious cyclists, to an easier-to-manage 50 km for beginners and youngsters.

To get them all off on a good and safe start, a contingent of “early riser” volunteers will be needed – people who won’t mind being ready to help out at 5:30 in the morning – said volunteer coordinator Jennifer Wolowic.

There’s still a need for people who can come the day before to help set up equipment and markers and such.

Course marshals are also needed, Wolowic noted.

Those are people who will be posted along the GranFondo routes, to watch out for the participating cyclists, to warn them about upcoming hazards such as railway crossings or rough pavement, to keep an eye open for possible safety issues, and to cheer the riders on.

About 40 points along the way have been identified “where it would be good to have someone” to provide warnings about possible issues ahead, or where cyclists might appreciate a rousing welcome to get them through a tough spot… like a steep hill, for instance.

The cheerleader part of the job is important, Wolowic said, to give cyclists a bit of greatly appreciated energy boost when they really need it.

In return for their service, volunteers will get a meal and a T-shirt, plus a pre-event appreciation dinner on Monsday, July 15, to recognize their help.

Plus, added Wolowic enthusiastically, “They get to be up close and watch a thousand participants go by.”

They can also feel good about helping the community with more than the Valley GranFondo itself.

Part of proceeds raised by the event will go to “getting kids on bikes,” promoting youth sports, and generally supporting youth in the community, said Wolowic.

“We are run by individuals who have a passion to help others through cycling, a sport we love,” she said. “We believe in helping our youth be successful both on and off the bike.”

The GranFondo team is “committed to giving back to the sport of cycling, promoting healthy living by bringing families and friends together through the sport of cycling, and raising funds to support the growth of the sport throughout the community it serves.”

Learn more at https://www.valleygranfondo.com/#volunteer.

Reach out to the GranFondo team on Twitter @valleyGranFondo, or Facebook @ProsperaValleyGranFondo.

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