Tour de Whitewater attracts 375 cyclists
Sean Chase/Daily Observer The second annual Tour de Whitewater attracted 375 riders Saturday, including a bike club from Gatineau, Quebec. Here riders depart the Westmeath Recreation Centre Arena on the 50-kilometre course.
WESTMEATH – Blessed with blue skies and milder summer temperatures, cyclists took to the roads of Whitewater Region for the second annual Tour de Whitewater.
The event attracted 397 riders who negotiated a series of challenging routes across the largely rural municipality. The Tour was the result of a partnership with Westmeath and District Recreation Association, the Township of Whitewater Region, 4-H Club and the Ottawa Valley Cycling Active Transportation Association (OVCATA).
Organizers not only hoped encourages healthy active living across all ages, but showcase the community and the excellent cycling opportunities that exist here with riders taking in some of Renfrew County's most pristine rural countryside.
“We want to promote an active lifestyle through cycling,” said event co-ordinator Jackie MacGregor. “This is a beautiful place to live. It's a beautiful place to be active whether it is running, cycling, kayaking or winter sports.”
Departing from the start line at the Westmeath Recreation Centre Arena, riders headed out on one of several different routes based on distance and difficulty. The longest was the 150-kilometre route which circumnavigated the township and took cyclists between five and six hours to complete. There were also 30-kilometre, 50-kilometre and 100-kilometre rides as well as a 10- kilometre Family Ride and 60-kilometre road ride primarily on gravel roads.
“This is awesome and it's exciting,” said Whitewater Mayor Hal Johnson, who credited the volunteers with putting on a spectacular cycling event. “It's brought 375 people or more and we're growing.”
With central Canada gripped in a sweltering heat wave over the past week, organizers were concerned about the weather and were grateful that temperatures across the region cooled down in time for the Tour.
“We're humbled and blessed with the turnout,” added MacGregor. “I have done competative triathlons for the last eight years in a lot of large events but this one has a such cozy, hometown Valley feel to it.”
GearHeads, Jamieson Travel and Valley Tours and Wilderness Tours are major sponsors to the ride. The Whitewater Fire Department, County of Renfrew Paramedic Services and Ontario Provincial Police also assisted to make the Tour a safe event. As the riders came in, they were treated to a barbecue lunch. Prior to the first group leaving, a community breakfast was also held at the arena. MacGregor said there is definitely momentum to keep the Tour de Whitewater an annual offering.
“We're hoping that it grows a lot in the next five years,” she added.