Giro di Burnaby reflects Small Town Charm

Burnaby’s Heights Neighbourhood Set to Welcome World Class Cycling

The City of Burnaby has the third largest population in British Columbia behind Surrey and Vancouver. Despite the large population, the Heights neighbourhood in North Burnaby still manages to maintain a small-town feel. That feeling is amplified by events like Hats Off Day in June, Crave the Heights in August – and the Giro di Burnaby presented by Appia Developments in July.

“Giro di Burnaby brings an injection of excitement to our neighbourhood, shows off our community to the region, and allows our whole city to gather around and enjoy a world-class sporting event against the framework of our local main street,” said Heights Merchants Association Executive Director Isabel Kolic.

Whether it’s Rocky’s Meats grilling their famous Italian sausage on a bun, Steamworks serving up craft brews in the Beer Garden, Valley Bakery thrilling the crowd with their bike wheel cookies, or many of the Heights merchants donating prizes for primes during the men’s and women’s races – the Giro di Burnaby and the Heights together project a feeling like that of the Giro d’Italia as it winds through the towns and countryside of Italy.

“There’s nothing better than watching a community come out for an event that appeals to so many people – the energy in the crowd matches the energy of the riders,” said long-time Giro volunteer and Heights resident Terri Field. “I love being a part of the Giro di Burnaby team that brings the experience of bike racing on the Heights. It’s exhilarating!”

It may seem like a small thing to some, but even having new banners printed by Still Creek Press and on the course this year shows the growth of the race in the mind of the community. The previous banners were designed from an original painting by local artist and community member Luigia Zilli, who was not only in attendance at the first planning meeting for the Giro, but also created the bronze cast perpetual trophy that sits in the glass case at Burnaby City Hall.

Gord Peters, who is a 19-year resident of the Heights, is sponsoring a prime this year in memory of his mother. She was a tough, determined lady, and would have enjoyed the opportunities available to women these days that were not available when she was young. “I thought that a prime for the women’s race would be a nice way to celebrate Betty and reward a racer’s determination and hard work, while chasing their dreams,” Peters said.

The progression of the race isn’t lost on the riders either as top pros continue to come back to Burnaby to compete for the more than $15,000 in prize money and primes. BC Superweek has been key to the development of 19-year-old rider Maggie Coles-Lyster of Maple Ridge. Despite her young age, the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Champion in the Women’s Points Race already has fond memories of the Giro di Burnaby.

“I first raced the Giro di Burnaby in 2013 when I was 14 and lasted 15 minutes before getting pulled! In 2014, I started finishing the BC Superweek crits and set the bar higher. I remember joking about winning the crowd prime before the race. I was listening for it and with two laps to go, finally heard them ring the bell. Coming into the sprint for the prime, I found myself at the front of the pack and when no one started sprinting for it, I went for it and crossed that line about $1000 richer!” said Coles-Lyster. “The next year, I went in with the confidence that I could use my race savvy and sprint with the pros. I knew I had to win that prime again and had a gut feeling that the bell would ring with two laps to go. I’m just too smart for my own good, because I won it again!”

It’s memories like Coles-Lyster’s that make up the fabric of not only the Giro di Burnaby, but the entire Heights neighbourhood – and contribute a genuine sense of small-town community. It’s the same sense you’ll get as you walk the stores and shops of The Heights and take in the sights and sounds of the Giro di Burnaby on Thursday, July 12th.

BC Superweek is Canada’s biggest professional road cycling series and features more than $140,000 in prize money with nine races over ten days. BC Superweek runs from July 6 – 15 and is made up of the Tour de Delta presented by Beedie (July 6 – 8), New West Grand Prix (July 10), Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 11), Giro di Burnaby presented by Appia Developments (July 12), PoCo Grand Prix presented by Dominion Lending Centres (July 13), and Tour de White Rock presented by Landmark Premiere Properties (July 14 – 15).