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BC Bike Race secures provincial grant

Organizers to highlight local communities in effort to boost tourism

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BC Bike Race is taking a little French inspiration after receiving some provincial government funding last week.

With a $65,000 provincial grant through the new Tourism Events Program, the race is set to produce a series of videos profiling the locales in which the race touches down. Director of marketing Andreas Hestler said he's taking a cue from the Tour de France, which similarly brings attention to its venues.

"The Tour de France does a beautiful, splashy graphic at the beginning. It's probably 15 to 20 seconds... It gives you an overall view of France and then it digs in to the town that it's circling around. Then it starts to show pictures of the region and talk about the culture. They'll talk about the route," Hestler said. "In this case, instead of highlighting the Alpe d'Huez and the wine region of France and the legendary climb, we would talk about the Microwave climb and Tunnel Vision and how things get to the Creekside area.

"It tells the story of the region using the bike race as a tour around the valley."

Hestler explained BC Bike Race had applied last spring, but was turned down. After going back to the drawing board with a focus on "planning next year's adventure," the organization's new pitch was approved and it began working with Destination BC on its next steps.

He noted that even hardcore mountain bikers within the province haven't unearthed some of the areas they plan to highlight, so the opportunity to show them to a wider audience is an exciting proposition.

"Even when people from B.C. come to the BC Bike Race, they do it because they knew they might never go riding with a guided tour around Cumberland or Powell River or the northern parts of the Sunshine Coast. I'm from around here and I hadn't ridden in some of those places until I did BC Bike Race and started it," he said. "We like to shine a little spotlight on those other places.

"It's nice synergy to show people what we have here in our backyard."

Hestler said BC Bike Race will share the videos with as many different organizations as possible, with local chambers of commerce at the top of mind.

"We're going to get as much bandwidth as we can with these," he said. "We'll make them available to the communities and have them on our website."

MLA Jordan Sturdy, who made the announcement on behalf of Shirley Bond, the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, said it was worthwhile to help boost the area as a mountain-biking mecca.

"Bringing the world to B.C. with this epic mountain bike race tour is a great way for the global community to explore B.C. I'm pleased our government is investing in events that will bring more international visitors to the province, including over 600 participants, and generating millions in revenue in communities on Vancouver Island and the southwest coast (of) mainland B.C. over the week-long event," he said in a release.

Hestler was thrilled to receive such recognition from the government, and hopes to see it continue.

"This new sport of mountain biking has arrived like skiing did many years ago. What this reflects is that the government sees the value of mountain biking. It's the summer side of skiing. It works well with the recreational resources that British Columbia is known for and it's a real acknowledgement of where mountain biking's at," he said. "But that doesn't mean that the fight's over. We have a lot of work to do with the trail builders and the clubs to make sure that this is a sustainable industry for the future. None of us want to leave here and all of us want to keep mountain biking so how does this work for all of us?"

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