George Bednarczyk has been riding his bike to stay active for more than two decades, but for the last three he’s also been doing it for a cause.
Bednarczyk and a number of his fellow cycling enthusiasts started the Muddy Waters 100 in 1994, a 100-mile ride along the banks of the Red River.
Three years ago the group decided it wanted to do more with the ride.
As a result they formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg. The partnership resulted in the ride becoming a fundraising event for Habitat, which has built a number of houses for low income families in Elmwood and other Winnipeg neighbourhoods.
"We thought it would be a good fit. It’s a cause that a lot of us felt positive about," said Bednarczyk, who lives in River Heights.
"I’ve been involved with a couple of Habitat builds myself, and I like what Habitat is doing."
The event has been renamed the Habitat for Humanity’s Muddy Water Gran Fondo. This year’s fundraiser will take place Sun., Aug. 7 and will feature four different routes which will all begin at The Forks.
Participants will be able to choose from among four distances including 25, 60 or 100 kilometres or 100 miles. There is a minimum fundraising amount for each rider, depending on the distance they choose.
Four check stops will be stationed along the route and run by volunteers from Lifesport, Olympia Cycle & Ski, Bikes & Beyond, and Woodcock Cycle Works.
Bednarczyk said that organizers acknowledged early on that they had their work cut out for them considering how competitive fundraising has become.
However, they have taken a long-term view it will take some time to grow the Muddy Waters into one of the province’s premiere cycling events.
"It promotes all levels of riding, from very competitive, all the way to families," he said.
Lori Hessner Unsworth, manager of special events for Habitat Winnipeg, said that organizers are hoping to attract 500 cyclists for this year’s event.
One hundred cyclists have already committed to this year’s ride, but Hessner Unsworth expects more to sign up as the date of the event draws closer.
"What we want to do with this event is we want to get enough people involved that we can raise enough money to build a house," said Hessner Unsworth, who grew up in Windsor Park, but now lives in Lorette.
Hessner Unsworth, who is on the Habitat and Muddy Waters committee with Bednarczyk, said that the cycling experience he brings to the table has been invaluable.
"He has the history with the ride and he knows a lot of the riders," she said.
"With him coming on board with Habitat, we were able to use his knowledge on what the ride was and where it could go in the future."
For more information, or to register, visit http://www.habitat.mb.ca/events-muddywaters.cfm.