Valley First

Gearing Up For Granfondo

South Okanagan gears up for the 3rd annual Valley First Granfondo
June 24, 2013

Penticton, B.C.—Over recent weeks, the buzz of early morning training has filled the South Okanagan air as cyclists gear up for the third annual Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan (VFGFAMO).

Attracting close to 4,500 riders over its first two years, the VFGFAMO gives cyclists of all abilities the chance to experience a large, organized ride without the competitive element of racing. It also has tremendous economic spinoffs for Penticton and communities throughout the Okanagan. Given the number of riders and fans and the average length of stay in the area, it is estimated the VFGFAMO has added $4.5 million to the local economy. The 2013 ride, being held on July 7, is set to be the biggest yet.

“We’ve seen over the last two years what a tremendous event like the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan can have on our community,” says Valley First president Paulette Rennie. “As the title sponsor, we’re proud to play its part in showcasing our little slice of paradise, supporting the local community and attracting such tremendous economic benefits to the region. The successes just keep on building.”

Olympic medalist, Tour de France veteran and the driving force behind the VFGFAMO, Axel Merckx, is looking forward to the third staging of what has become a must-attend event on the local riding circuit.

“For many, including myself, this event is the highlight of the summer and we’re thankful to sponsors like Valley First for their amazing support,” says Merckx.

With less than two weeks left until riders hit the road, training is peaking for many VFGFAMO participants. Popular in Europe, granfondo events allow riders to experience the rigours of a full pro-level race with the same support enjoyed by professional cyclists. However, the emphasis is not only on competition, but also on participation.

The VFGFAMO also has many community benefits, as the event will again be supporting Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley. In addition to cash donations, surplus race supplies and recyclables will once again be donated to Feed the Valley. The event also benefits the Axel Merckx Youth Development Foundation, a not-for-profit initiative aimed to help develop young cyclists in Canada.

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 40 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.1 billion in assets under administration, more than 171,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

About the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan

The Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan is a fully supported ride featuring several categories and distances to challenge riders of all levels. The traditional Granfondo will span 160 kilometres, while the shorter Mediofondo will feature a 92 kilometre route and the Cortofondo will cover 55 kilometres. The weekend of the Granfondo, July 5-7, will feature a full schedule of events leading up to, and after, the ride. For more information about the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan, visit

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