The future of the GranFondo Banff is uncertain after a last minute change to the route of the cycling event was made necessary by the presence of feeding bears.
It was the first cycling event of its kind, a 142-kilometer route entirely inside the boundaries of a national park, and 1500 riders lined up to take part on Saturday.
But unfortunately no-one had reckoned with the presence of Bear No. 64, a 23-year old grizzly known as the matriarch of the Bow Valley.
No. 64 and her three cubs were feeding along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway, and what's more, No. 128, an orphaned male grizzly was eating near the road.
The route was shortened by nearly 40km.
“We’ve known all along this was a possibility,” Ann Morrow, manager of external relations of the Banff field unit for Parks Canada told the Calgary Herald.
“We had to go to Plan B.”
Shawn Bunnin, the first cyclist to cross the finish line at two hours and 40 minutes said: “Organizers were in a tough spot. You play to a lot of different forces here, in terms of wildlife."
Future approval for the event will depend on a full assessment conducted by Parks Canada to determine whether there was any negative impact on the park.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.