Canada stands as a haven for cycling aficionados, offering an expansive and varied landscape that caters to cyclists of every expertise and inclination. At Movin Mobility, we take immense pride in discovering and elucidating the Premier Cycling Events in Canada for the years 2023/2024, evaluating these events on criteria such as reputation, quality of route, locale, feedback from cyclists, and the overall distinctiveness of the event or race.
The tradition of road cycling has deep roots in Canada, where riders are treated to picturesque routes that span flat prairie expanses to rugged mountainous terrains. A cherished destination for road cycling in Canada is the Cabot Trail, a 300-kilometer circuit traversing the beautiful terrains of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, famous for its breathtaking coastal vistas, demanding inclines, and tranquil pathways. A standout event that garners our attention is the RBC Gran Fondo, recognized as one of the grandest Gran Fondos in North America. This event distinguishes itself with a point-to-point route from Vancouver to Whistler, presenting riders with exquisite landscapes and an unobstructed, traffic-free journey along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Over recent decades, mountain biking has seen a surge in popularity, with British Columbia and Alberta hosting some of the prime terrains. The undulating landscapes of the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains offer a boundless playground for avid riders, featuring trails ranging from smooth, flowing singletrack to technical descents. The Whistler Bike Park in British Columbia holds a reputation as one of the globe’s most sought-after mountain biking venues, drawing cycling enthusiasts from every corner. A significant MTB event on our radar is the TransRockies Singletrack 6, a six-day mountain bike odyssey that flaunts the finest riding trails across various mountain biking communities in Western Canada. Each year, the race unveils a new route, serving a perfect mixture of cross-country trails, scenic overlooks, and thrilling descents, under the umbrella of the TransRockies Race Series, a unique amalgam of top-notch cycling and trail running events.
Gravel cycling, although a relatively recent advent in Canada, has rapidly garnered a following among cyclists yearning for the serenity of remote locales, far removed from the urban frenzy. Gravel trails abound in the countryside, especially in the prairie provinces and Ontario. Events that catch our eye include the TransRockies Gravel Royale, a fresh four-day gravel stage race from Panorama to Fernie, BC, and the Belgian Waffle Ride British Columbia. The latter is a proud member of the esteemed North American Quadrupel Triple Crown of Gravel Series. The Kettle Mettle Dirty Fondo, a recognized event on the Gran Fondo World Tour, also deserves a mention.
In summation, Canada emerges as a premier cycling destination on the global stage, with its diverse landscapes offering a treasure trove of cycling adventures for riders across all levels and styles. Stambecco's unwavering commitment to identifying and detailing the finest cycling events in Canada for 2023/2024 guides riders through a plethora of choices, ensuring they savor the pinnacle of what this majestic country has in store for the cycling community.
1) Sea2Sky Gravel Fondo
The Sea2Sky Gravel Fondo (S2S) stands as a yearly cycling extravaganza set against the awe-inspiring canvas of the Sea2Sky Corridor and the Greater Vancouver Region in Canada, beckoning cyclists who thirst for a distinctive and demanding cycling venture. Participants navigate through gravel roads, singletrack trails, and robust ascents, all while enveloped in the pristine allure of British Columbia.
Tri 1 Events, with a remarkable history spanning 19 years in orchestrating events, and a solid nine years in honing gravel fondos across Western Canada, meticulously choreographs this event. Their acumen ensures a fluid journey right from the kickoff at the starting line to the exuberant post-race festivities. Additionally, they are the brains behind the much-acclaimed Triple Crown Gravel Fondo Series, which houses the Sea2Sky Gravel Fondo (S2S) as one of its jewels. The event has garnered accolades from Strambecco, earning a spot as one of the Top Gravel Events in the Northwest for 2023/2024, and making the list of the Best Cycling Events across the Canadian terrain.
Event & Course Details
The Sea2Sky Gravel Fondo (S2S) event is a magnet for cycling enthusiasts across the globe, encompassing a spectrum of cycling proficiencies. The event offers a choice of three distinct routes catering to various skill levels: the Piccolo/Beginner Fondo (Approx. 25km), Medio Fondo (Approx. 50km), and Full Fondo (Approx. 90km).
The 100K Full Fondo, stretching over an approximate distance of 92kms, presents a route with an elevation gain slightly beyond 1980M. Participants should brace themselves for a few hills and some demanding ascents, albeit none surpassing a gradient of 9%.
Medio Fondo serves as a moderate leap from the Piccolo, and yet remains welcoming to a broad range of cyclists. Much like the terrain of the Piccolo route, this course predominantly showcases flat stretches punctuated with a handful of minor ascents, all set on gravel pathways. Here, the elevation hovers near 900M.
The Piccolo/Beginner Fondo, an inviting gateway for novices to gravel cycling, unfolds a largely flat landscape with occasional modest climbs. Journeying across gravel tracks, riders will encounter an elevation climb just under 500M.
The event's beginning and end are stationed at Logger Sports Park in Squamish, BC. The Full Fondo sets the pace, commencing at 8:00 AM, trailed by the Medio Fondo at 8:15 AM, and eventually, the Beginner Fondo at 8:45 AM. Note, the course wraps up by 2:30 PM. For the competitively spirited, there are various participatory categories: individual, teams of 2, and teams of 4, with team outcomes determined by aggregated times, injecting a thrilling tactical element into the race.
Curious about the most suited bike for this event? While any bicycle can technically suffice, those with thicker tires capable of lower pressure operation, like gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes, and mountain bikes, are recommended.
Post-race, cyclists are pampered with a hearty meal, chilled beer, vibrant music, a commemorative T-shirt, and a shot at a bounty of draw prizes. The essence of the event transcends the race; it’s about fostering community and nurturing a collective ardour for gravel cycling. The Sea2Sky Gravel Fondo (S2S) is much more than a race; it's an exuberant homage to the awe-inspiring landscapes of Canada's western coast. Participants are set to be enchanted by sprawling mountain vistas, boundless rivers, serene creeks, and inviting wide gravel Forest Service roads, each echoing with the allure of exploration.
Lodging Options & Leisure Activities
Although there isn't an official host hotel for the Sea2Sky Gravel Fondo (S2S), Squamish presents numerous lodging alternatives like the Sunwolf Riverside Cabins, Sandman Hotel and Suites, Mountain Retreat, and Executive Suites. For a homier ambiance, an array of vacation rentals are available ranging from quaint waterfront island cabins to modern contemporary residences.
The culinary landscape of Squamish, BC, mirrors its unique coastal and mountainous setting, emphasizing fresh seafood, locally harvested produce, and a burgeoning array of craft breweries and restaurants serving a blend of international and Pacific Northwest culinary styles. This coastal enclave is a culinary enthusiast's delight, offering a fusion of classic Canadian fare and creative gastronomic ventures amidst breathtaking natural vistas. While in town, be sure to visit local favorites such as Salted Vine, Saha Eatery, and Locavore.
Nestled at the northern reaches of Howe Sound, midway between Vancouver and Whistler, Squamish is a quaint township revered as the "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada" owing to its spectacular natural allure and myriad outdoor adventures. The region is a picturesque blend of coastal rainforest and rugged mountain terrains, with the iconic Stawamus Chief, a towering granite monolith, standing sentinel over the town. The area's geography is a dream come true for outdoor aficionados. Hiking reigns supreme here, with a plethora of trails including the famed Chief’s Trail leading to the summit of the Stawamus Chief, unveiling awe-inspiring vistas of Howe Sound.
Often hailed as Canada's climbing zenith, Squamish houses some of North America’s prime rock climbing venues, boasting over 2,000 climbing routes. Among the notable ones are The Grand Wall, an esteemed multi-pitch route on The Chief blending crack and face climbing; The Snake, a classic multi-pitch course on the Apron offering a variety of crack sizes; and the Squamish Buttress, often paired with Apron routes, presenting varied climbing experiences culminating in a remarkable crest ascent.
Mountain biking enthusiasts will find their slice of paradise here with world-renowned trails like Diamond Head and Alice Lake networks, offering diverse terrains catering to all skill brackets. Come winter, Squamish serves as a portal to stellar skiing escapades in North America, with Whistler Blackcomb merely a short drive away.
2) Cowichan Crusher Gravel Fondo
The Cowichan Crusher Gravel Fondo, holding the distinction of being the most seasoned gran fondo on Vancouver Island, unfolds a splendid avenue for cyclists to delve into the scenic charm of the Cowichan Valley. Offering routes tailored for every rider skill level, and the choice to ride solo or as a team, the event emerges as an engaging and demanding venture into nature's splendor. Additionally, nestled in a locale celebrated for its outdoor recreational offerings, it beckons as a prime spot for outdoor adventure aficionados to explore all year round. Being a part of the Triple Crown Gravel Series, the event has earned accolades from Strambecco as one of the premier Gravel Events in the Northwest.
The 2023 rendition of the event is slated to commence and culminate in the quaint town of Lake Cowichan, situated along the serene shores of Cowichan Lake. The trio of route alternatives spans a spectrum of lengths and difficulty levels, catering to riders of all calibers. The most succinct route stretches 35 kilometers (22 miles), while the most extended route sprawls across 100 kilometers (62 miles). Primarily tracing gravel pathways, the routes present riders with rigorous ascents, descents, and a sprinkle of technical segments. Participants can enroll as individuals or teams, with team configurations of either duo or quartet riders.
Package collection for the festivity is scheduled on Saturday, May 6th, at Centennial Hall in Lake Cowichan between 2:00-6:00 PM, and on the event's day at the Lowermost Ballfield beneath Hall and Rec Centre from 7:00 AM onwards.
Perched on the eastern shores of Vancouver Island, the Cowichan Valley is revered for its diversified and captivating natural tapestries, embracing forests, rivers, lakes, and mountainous terrains. The event charts several courses that meander through the stunning, rugged topography of the region, brushing past farmlands, vineyards, and other pastoral scenes. During their journey, riders might cross paths with an array of wildlife including bald eagles, black bears, and deer. Recommended accommodations in the vicinity include the Farm Table Inn and the Cowichan River Lodge, besides a plethora of vacation rentals and unique camping sites.
The event's helm is managed by Tri 1 Events, a distinguished event orchestration enterprise in British Columbia. Tri 1 also curates the much-celebrated Triple Crown of Gravel Series, encompassing the Cowichan Crusher Gran Fondo, the Kettle Mettle Dirty Fondo, and the Sea2Sky Gravel Fondo.
3) Belgian Waffle Ride British Columbia
This Spring, the esteemed cycling events creator, Monuments of Cycling (MoC), known for the iconic Belgian Waffle Ride California, is introducing its renowned event format to Vancouver Island with the Belgian Waffle Ride British Columbia. Inspired by the formidable European one-day Spring Classics, BWR events, known for their unique cycling challenges, have amassed a devoted following. These dynamic, multi-terrain 'unroad' courses are a blend of single tracks, sand, rocks, gravel, water crossings, cyclocross elements, and a bit of asphalt, delivering an unparalleled cycling experience. The team at Strambecco labels the Belgian Waffle Ride British Columbia, also termed “The Hell of the Great White North,” as one of the prime Gravel Cycling Events in the Northwest.
The debut of BWR BC is set around Duncan, BC, situated 40 miles north of Victoria, with Cowichan Exhibition Park as the race venue, owing to its closeness to the thrilling single tracks on Mt. Tzouhalem (the Zoo), Maple Mountain, and Mt. Prevost. In crafting this inaugural event beyond the US borders, Monuments of Cycling has collaborated with the well-received Canadian event organizer, Panache Cycling Sports. The anticipation surrounding Belgian Waffle Ride British Columbia is already palpable, attracting elite athletes, both current and former pros like Rob Britton, alongside a host of keen amateur riders eager to compete with the best in the sport.
Mirroring the essence of BWR events in California, N. Carolina, Utah, Kansas, Michigan, and Arizona, the course in British Columbia is devised to exhibit a challenging 'unroad' multi-terrain route, embracing the unique topographical allure of the location. Three route options are available: the Waffle course spans 136 miles with an ascent of 8500 feet, the Wafer course covers 67 miles with 5000 ft of elevation, and the Wanna course extends over 32 miles with an 1800 ft climb. The courses will feature between 22-50% of “Unroad” segments, tight turns, roots, water crossings, and obstacles, with 1-7 replenishment zones powered by The Feed. For comprehensive race details, the official 2023 Race Bijbel is available, and FasCat Coaching can provide personalized training plans.
Alongside the race, the Unroad Cycling Festival will animate the weekend with live music, a beer garden, an industry expo, family-friendly activities, and diverse food offerings. Accommodation options include partner hotels like Oceanfront at Cowichan Bay, Villa Eyrie, Four Points by Sheraton, and for those keen on camping at the venue, registrations for bikepacking, tent, or van/RV spaces are open. A range of vacation rentals and unique lodgings like a farm with glamping options are also available. The Cowichan area, with its stunning vistas, myriad outdoor activities, culinary delights, and vibrant arts & culture, is worth an extended exploration post-event.
Participants also get a shot at the 2023 Quadrupel Crown of Gravel Series, commencing with the new BWR Arizona, offering a distinct way to immerse in the unroad essence of BWR events/races. Encompassing all the BWRs, the Quadrupel Crown is touted as the grandest gravel series globally, pursued in a points-based omnium format throughout the 2023 BWRs. Riders vying for the Quadrupel honors and prize money can accumulate points from their top four (Quad) races to compete for the victory. The series will honor both professional riders and age groupers.