The thrill of racing in a high-profile cycling event was introduced to kids on Saturday morning in Penticton.
Before the official Okanagan Granfondo that goes Sunday morning, it was time for some of the region’s aspiring cyclists to show what they have in front of dozens of spectators on Lakeshore Drive.
Kids — ranging from the ages of one to 12 took part in Kids’ Piccolofondo starting at 9 a.m., with routes as short as 600 metres to as long as six kilometres.
“Many of the kids here will be watching their parents and loved ones participate in the big day tomorrow,” said Steve King, the event’s announcer. “This was an opportunity for families to come together and for the kids to get a sense of what it’s like to be part of something as big and exciting as this.”
More than 3,000 cyclists from across North America will be up bright and early on Sunday to compete in the 10th annual Okanagan Granfondo, a bike ride that will see participants begin in downtown Penticton and make stops in Summerland and Oliver before finishing back in Penticton. An after-party is planned at Gyro Park.
On Saturday, though, it was the kids’ time to get a taste of what high-performance cycling is all about.
“A lot of the kids here will watch the Tour de France on TV and today was a chance for them to feel what it could be like,” King said. “We hope many of them will gravitate to cycling and take it up further to make it part of their sporting lives.”
The kids’ edition of the event has preluded the Okanagan Granfondo for 10 years.
Many of the registered participants for Sunday morning’s main event were in attendance to support the kids on Saturday.
“We had the Junior National Time Trial champion here today to cheer on the kids before he gets set to compete tomorrow,” King said. “Many of tomorrow’s riders are here watching or even brought their kids along for the fun.”
Sunday’s event will result in several road closures across the South Okanagan, starting at 6 a.m.
Large sections of Penticton’s Main Street will be closed, along with Lakeshore Drive between Highway 97 and Peach Orchard Road in Summerland from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.