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Tour de Bonnechere attracts 197 cyclists

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer 
Damien McCarthy (right) gives a thumbs up as he and Troy Thibeau cross the finish line during the Tour de Bonnechere - Pedal for Mental Health Sunday at the Legion Field in Eganville. The event attracted 197 riders who competed in four races.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Damien McCarthy (right) gives a thumbs up as he and Troy Thibeau cross the finish line during the Tour de Bonnechere - Pedal for Mental Health Sunday at the Legion Field in Eganville. The event attracted 197 riders who competed in four races.

 

EGANVILLE – Cyclists took to Renfrew County roads over the weekend to not only promote this growing lifestyle but create awareness surrounding mental health.

The annual Tour de Bonnechere saw 197 riders set out from Legion Field here on Sunday embarking on one of four challenging routes. Participants took on 60-kilometre and 100-kilometre routes, while 11 cyclists stepped up to bike an incredible 150 kilometres. Thirty four bikers went on the 18-kilometre scenic family ride for all ages that included a guided tour of the famous Bonnechere Caves.

Prior to the rides kicking off, elders from the Anishaanabe Cultural Circle will provide opening prayers and offer smudging for those who wished to participate. This is the kind of event that Damien McCarthy, owner of Petawawa's Gearheads, said he wouldn't miss although he opted for the 60-kilometre ride rather than his usual 100-kilometre journey.

“This is perfect,” said McCarthy, who found the hills of Foymount the toughest part of the trek. “It was a little shorter but a little steeper.”

This was the second Tour de Bonnechere in support of Pedal Forward, which is a collective of agencies in Renfrew County interested in supporting mental health awareness in order to eliminate stigma and encourage the utilization of the many services which can support those in need. Their efforts were bolstered in 2014 when Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes cycled 12,000 kilometres around Canada, in support of mental health awareness and made stops in Deep River and Arnprior.

“This is a neat opportunity that speaks to how important community is and how important exercise and outdoor fresh air is in mental wellness,” said Barb Clarke, co-chairwoman of Peddle Forward Planning Team. “We love the connection between cycling, community, friendship and fundraising for this important cause.”

Tour de Bonnechere promotes cycling as a healthy lifestyle but it also gave the riders a chance to take a warm, scenic day in the Upper Ottawa Valley. Max Cole, 16, from Stittsville, found it a tough route as he finished the 60-kilometre race in second place in an hour and 26 minutes. As he is a speed skater, Cole noted he doesn't always cycle long-distance.

“I do this normally for cross training,” he said. “This was fun but competitive.”

Here are the top three finishers in the competitive races. Thomas Csisztu and Mark Makowiecka tied for first place in the 60-kilometre men's race, followed by second place Max Cole and third place Brian Hunter. Andrea Makowiecka came in first place in the 60-kilometre women's race, followed by Samantha Csisztu, in second place, and Carmen Davidson, in third place.

In the 100-kilometre men's race, Tony Biernaki came in first place, followed by Peter Tregunno, in second place, and the trio of Sean Corrigan, Sylvain Cote and Francois Lamontagne, in third. Cathy McDonald finished first in the 100-kilometre women's race, followed by second place Audrey Hagberg and third place Anne Murphy. In the 150-kilometre race, Raymond Lattay came in first place, followed by second place Shane Firlotte and Reed Jorgensen and Gary LaRose, who tied for third.

SChase@postmedia.com