Francophone students completing an epic cycling relay across Canada have inspired their Elk Valley classmates.
Participants in the La Grande Traversee arrived in Fernie on Saturday, spending the night at the Max Turyk Community Centre.
The next morning they ate breakfast with students from local French-language school, Ecole Sophie-Morigeau, who cycled with them as far as the Fernie Aquatic Centre.
Founded in 2013, LGT is a cycling relay that challenges Francophone students in Grades 8-12 to cycle more than 2000km across six provinces in 30 days, with the event split into eight legs.
Sunday marked the second day for the second team of young cyclists, who were due to complete their journey in Medicine Hat, Alberta, before the next team continued the relay from North Battleford in Saskatchewan.
Organizer Emilie Bureau said LGT had grown from 25 to 275 students since its inception. It promotes a healthy, active lifestyle.
“Smaller kids from elementary it’s not a problem because they’re moving anyway, they’re active, they’re outside and playing but when they get older… that’s when children become more sedentary, more screen time, that’s why we need to be super focused on targeting these kids and getting them to be active and to stay active,” she said.
Cyclist Maxime Longchamps was enjoying being in Fernie again after visiting the town on a ski holiday.
“The scenery, the mountains, the lakes, it’s all beautiful,” he said.
“We’re really lucky to be doing it in the Rocky Mountains here.”
LGT was Longchamps’ first cycling event and came just three weeks after he rode a bike for the first time.
The 17-year-old from Airdrie, Alberta, hoped to ride the full 300km.
“Going downhill is the best moment of the day,” he said.
“When you go up a mountain, the best feeling is when you get to go down because you’ve just worked really hard to get up the top.”
Ecole Sophie-Morigeau principal Josee Renaud thanked local businesses who donated food to LGT.
“We would like to thank Big Bang Bagels for their very generous donation and Mountain Range for the delicious curry dinner. You can contact them at 250-432-9065,” she said.
Renaud said many of her students wanted to participate in the relay after meeting cyclists in this year’s event.
“It’s super fun, it inspires them,” she said.