Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Community Sports

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Fraser Valley event seeks more women riders

Released by Tashon Ziara, Prospera Credit Union



lthough their numbers are increasing every year, it’s taken time for women to warm up to mass participation road cycling events.


Last year, women comprised 37.5 per cent of the overall participants in the Fraser Valley’s Prospera Valley GranFondo (PVGF), which offers three different routes of varying lengths including a 160km GranFondo, 88km MedioFondo and a 50km PrestoFondo.


Breaking the numbers down further, women accounted for 13.5 per cent of riders in the GranFondo, 40 per cent of riders in the 88km MedioFondo, and 54 per cent of riders in the 50km PrestoFondo.


Marc Campbell, who came onboard as the new Event Director for the Prospera Valley GranFondo this year, would like to see those numbers climb even higher into the 50 per cent range.


“I think the Prospera Valley GranFondo has the perfect course for all levels of riders,” said Campbell in a recent interview with CyclingWEST. “I want us to be known as the most attainable and affordable GranFondo in the country. I think we can help with the growth of cycling in the Fraser Valley by using our event as the vehicle that appeals to women riders and to beginners of both genders.”


In support of this objective, the Fort Langley Cyclery has been offering a series of training rides for all levels of cyclists, including a weekly 6:00 p.m. women’s ride every Tuesday.


What motivates women to ride in big events? We talked with a group of women who have taken part in the Prospera Valley GranFondo during the past two years to get their perspective on the sport. Here’s what they had to say about their GranFondo experience:


“It’s difficult to express the sense of joy you can get on a bicycle, the feeling of freedom along with the camaraderie and the instant connection you have with others,” said Judy Walker who rode in the inaugural year. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to take in your surroundings and appreciate all the beauty of the Fraser Valley.”

“The Prospera Valley GranFondo provided the kickstart I needed two years ago to change my lifestyle and become more active,” said Heather Johnson, who now has several GranFondo rides under her belt. “I used to cycle years ago and then quit for a variety of reasons. I am not the kind of person who enjoys going to work out regularly but I love the outdoors and will train to achieve a specific goal that’s related to an event. I also enjoy the camaraderie of cycling with co-workers and friends. Many of the women that I used to golf with have now taken up cycling and I’ve reconnected with some of them through bike rides. The Prospera Valley GranFondo itself is very well run and has great volunteers to cheer you along the way and make sure you have the food and hydration you need. The group ride element results in lots of adrenalin and pushing yourself to go faster than you could on any training ride.”


“I became interested in participating in this event when someone from the Prospera Valley GranFondo visited my workplace to give a presentation,” said Cindy Helmer. “Cycling 50km in the PrestoFondo was well beyond my expectations and a tough goal for me as the furthest I had cycled to date was about 2km! My goal was simply to ‘finish’ the event and my husband agreed to participate with me. It was a long ride for us but we persevered together, celebrating at the halfway mark. I can’t express the relief of passing the ‘5km to go’ sign; I think I actually teared up. I just couldn’t believe we were actually going to finish the ride and in well below the time we allotted for ourselves! This is now an annual tradition for us. Simply put, it’s an amazing feeling to push yourself to your personal limit and support some great charitable partners.”


“The ride is very challenging, the rider support is second to none and the appreciation from the Special Olympians is very uplifting,” said Kay Thorne. “I am honoured to be able to participate in such a high calibre event that is dedicated to supporting community. At the end of last year’s ride, Special Olympian Bobbi Barth handed me the finisher’s medal with a big smile on her face and said, ‘Thank you for doing this for us.’  That’s what made all the training and the effort worthwhile for me.”


The Prospera Valley GranFondo takes place July 20 with three rides that wind their way through the beautiful Fraser Valley. This is a family friendly event with activities throughout the day, so bring your family and friends and join in the fun.


About Prospera Credit Union

Building on more than 65 years of history in British Columbia, Prospera Credit Union is proud to be a member owned co-operative with operations from Vancouver to Kelowna. As a full service financial institution that prides itself on building relationships, we serve our members through sixteen branches; online and mobile banking; and a locally-based contact centre. Through our membership in The Exchange network, our members enjoy fee-free access to more than 2,300 ATMs across Canada.


Making life better for everyone is important to us at Prospera. With an extensive community investment program devoted to supporting the organizations, events and volunteers that make our communities stronger, Prospera makes a meaningful difference in the financial well-being of our members and our communities. To learn more, check out our YouTube channel and Facebook page or visit our newsroom online at prospera.ca.



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