First ever MARLANT Navy Bike Ride a big success
By Ryan Melanson,
Hundreds of military cyclists headed out for a morning on the trails on June 2 for the first annual MARLANT Navy Bike Ride, and judging by the large turnout and rave reviews from those who took part, they may have established a new tradition for the region.
The intent was to put together a small local ride to shadow the larger Navy Bike Ride, which was held for the first time this year in Ottawa on May 20, but turnout was stronger than expected and about 400 bikers hit the Shearwater Trail in the morning to follow either a 6km, 15km or 30km route. About half the riders opted to buy and wear the special Navy Bike Ride jerseys for the event, creating a great show of RCN pride as the pack traversed the trails and crossed the Salt Marsh Trail toward Lawrencetown.
A number of the formation’s senior leaders took part, including RAdm John Newton and Formation Chief CPO1 Pierre Auger, and while official registration was only open to CAF members, trails remained open to the public and some participants brought along family members.
LCdr Amber Comisso completed the full 30km ride and said she had a blast getting out on her bike for the morning alongside so many fellow sailors and other CAF members.
“I had signed up for the ride in Ottawa because I loved the idea of the Navy getting together like this, getting outside to celebrate fitness and what we’re all about. When I found out we were having our ride here I had to do it,” she said.
“It’s been incredible to watch this thing grow from a small idea to what we have here today.”
LCdr Kray Robichaud played a role in putting the event together, along with CPO1 Sifton Mosher and Lt(N) Guillermo Rivera, as well as PSP Halifax staff. He said plans for a modest event to coincide with the Ottawa ride began a couple months ago, and expanded as more people showed interest. Organizers were surprised at how quickly registrations began to pour in soon after news of the ride went out.
The route was chosen because, depending on how far along the trail cyclists chose to travel, it presented a challenge for veteran riders while still being accessible to the novices with the short 6km route on the Shearwater Trail. LCdr Robichaud lives in Eastern Passage and said he remembered how impressed he was with the trail system when he first discovered it; he hoped some of the participants would have the same reaction.
“I wanted people who have never experienced the trail before to get a chance, because it’s just breathtaking,” he said.
“And the novice riders are really the target audience we wanted to get at this event, so we wanted to make it exciting for them as well.”
And as riders convened outside the Shearwater Arena for refreshments and prize draws following the ride, the quality of the scenic route was a topic of conversation, with many saying they had discovered a new favourite spot.
“I had to stop and take pictures, it was amazing,” said CPO1 Robin Lessard. Others said they would be back with their families or riding buddies, and many were already talking about how the MARLANT ride could be an even bigger event next year for its second annual instalment.
Organizers wanted to thank PSP Halifax staff for assisting with the ride, including Wally Bukowski who provided his always-popular emcee skills for the day, as well as the many sponsors who helped make the event happen and donated draw prizes for participants.