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‘Gran fondo’ bicycle race to benefit Niagara Hospice

OLCOTT – Have a bicycle, a desire to help others and a penchant for parties and beautiful scenery?

The Hospice Gran Fondo to benefit Niagara Hospice is planned for May 16, with a start and finish at Krull Park on Lake Ontario.

A “gran fondo” is a type of bicycle race that originated in Italy and is becoming increasingly popular in this country. It translates into “big ride” and is known for scenic routes, open country roads and fun pit stops. This is the second year for the Hospice event.

And, the Hospice Gran Fondo, presented by M&T Bank, is the first charity bicycle ride to feature several Niagara County wineries.

“Last year was such a big success, we had over 650 riders and we are hoping for an even bigger and better event this year,” said Brendan McIntyre, director of development at Niagara Hospice Alliance. “We have three routes with stops at wineries along the Niagara Wine Trail. Our ride attracts all types of riders, from the casual to the more experienced.”

Riders may choose a 15-mile, 30-mile, or 62.5-mile route and on-line registration is now available.

Each route will have refreshment stops at local establishments including; Chateau Niagara Winery, Honeymoon Trail Winery, Midnight Run Winery, Victorianbourg Wine Estate, Schulze Vineyards & Winery, Black Willow Winery and Woodcock Brothers Brewing Co. The post-ride party includes live music, snacks provided by Tops Markets, and wine tastings provided by participating wineries.

Erik Zimmerman organized a group of family members and friends to ride in honor of his uncle, Arthur Currie, who died shortly before the event last year. They will ride again as “Team Artie” at this year’s event.

“He spent the last few weeks of his life at Niagara Hospice in Lockport and our family was blown away by the organization,” Zimmerman said. “The facility and staff were wonderful. We wanted to do this ride in memoriam for my uncle and in support of Niagara Hospice and what they did for us. They are pretty special. This is a great cause and a great organization.”

Volunteers and sponsors are still needed for the event. For information, contact Maureen Rizzo at Niagara Hospice at mrizzo@niagarahospice.com or 280-0728.

For details about the ride, fundraising, and for online registration, visit www.HospiceGranFondo.com.

All proceeds from this event benefit programs and services offered by Niagara Hospice. For more information, visit www.NiagaraHospice.org or call (716) 439-4417.