Since 2004 the Fernie-based Highline 100 cycling race has had its riders pedal to raise money for local groups. The first ride had 42 participants and started on Highline Drive and went to the First and Last Chance Bar, just on the other side of the border in Montana.
Since then, the ride has happened every year with the exception of 2008. The 2016 event, which was held on Aug. 6, was the 12th riding of the annual event.
It’s a fun Fernie Fondo, according to Michele Dauphinee, a committee member of the Highline 100 Society.
“The Highline 100 is a fun bicycle ride, not a race, where you have your choice of doing either a 40 kilometre, 100 kilometre, or 160 kilometre road ride. ‘Fernie’s Fondo’ is the perfect event for families, new riders and the hard-core, There are several stops along the way for food, beverages and socializing,” she said.
Dauphinee told The Free Press that while the goal of riding bikes a great distance for a good cause remains, the route has changed over the years.
“In 2012 the event was rerouted so that riding on Highway 3 was eliminated. The start/finish was relocated to South Country near Baynes Lake hosted by Brad and Tanya Zumwalt. The border crossing was also eliminated as line-ups and security grew,” she said.
The three distances all start and finish at the same location. The ride is fully supported and even offers a cinnamon bun stop.
“Over 25 volunteers contribute in various roles: [with] four aid stations, two support vehicles and roving paramedics. A dozen volunteers work tirelessly to prepare a huge buffet lunch served at the Zumwalt’s property in South Country,” she said. “A highlight of the ride is a stop at the Grasmere Community Centre at the 60 kilometre mark where fresh cinnamon buns and coffee are served. A final treat can be picked up on the way back to Fernie at the 3/93 Dairy Bar.”
This year was the lowest turnout in several years, according to Dauphinee.
“There were 103 riders this year,” she said. “The highest turnout saw 150 riders at the 10th anniversary ride in 2014. The ride can accommodate 160 riders so we are keen to grow the event to raise more funds for local charities.”
Three organizations split the proceeds from the Highline 100. This year’s recipients were the Elk Valley Hospital Foundation, Fernie Alpine Ski Team (FAST) and Fernie Adaptive Ski Program (FIRE).
“$9000-$10,000 is raised each year; so the event is approaching the $100,000 mark over 12 years. A wind-up banquet each year [that was] held at the Rusty Edge in 2015 and [again in] 2016 includes a Silent Auction and Wine Raffle. A highlight of this year’s banquet was a presentation by FIRE founder and president, Grace Brulotte. Grace gave a moving talk about the benefits of the FIRE program and inspired all of us to continue giving back.”
The 13th ride is already being planned for 2017. More information, including route maps and some information on other organizations that received money can be found at Highline100.com. Registration for next year’s event opens May 2017.