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Giro seeking Burnaby billets for cyclists

Giro di Burnaby organizers are seeking billets for cyclists participating in the July 14 bike race.

It's not yet known how many cyclists will require accommodation, said organizer Rainy Kent, but the last Giro in 2008 saw 15 to 20 housed at the homes of volunteer hosts.

The competing cyclists hail from across North America and as far as Europe and Australia. Several may come as a team and prefer, if possible, to stay together.

"They're okay with sleeping on mattresses and locking their bikes in garages. They're not a really demanding group of people. They just really appreciate the opportunity to billet as it saves them so much money," Kent said.

"It makes them coming here doable. If they had to deal with all their travel accommodations and air flights and hotel on top of that, a lot of them wouldn't even be able to come and participate."

Housing hosts need to be able to provide a place to shower, a place to sleep and a secure, enclosed space to store their bicycles. They're not responsible for providing meals or transportation although riders would appreciate being able to store food in a refrigerator and having use of the kitchen.

They'll generally stay two days, July 13 and 14, before moving on to the Delta area for races there and in White Rock to avoid the lengthy commute.

"They want to ride, sleep and move on to the next race."

Kent said the cyclists are committed athletes. "They're not a group that are going to head out to the bar."

Hosting them is a great opportunity for families, she said.

"These are just amazing role models for kids. It shows the family the commitment and the dedication involved to race at this calibre. It gives them somebody to cheer for when they go to the race.

"For people who are passionate about cycling it's just a great way to give back to the sport."

North Burnaby residents Dennis and Margaret Hansen hosted six cyclists and their team leader, all with Team Rubicon, in 2008. Two of the group actually slept next door in the neighbour's spare room.

The Hansens, who were also involved as volunteers on race day in the Heights, spent time socializing with the riders but "they pretty much looked after themselves," said Dennis.

While he originally thought he'd take them out sightseeing, he soon realized their routine consisted of racing, resting and recuperating.

"They don't have the time and energy to go and visit the town."

Anyone interested in hosting cyclists can complete a form online at http://tinyurl.com/3tu3u6p, email info@girodiburnaby.com or call 604-842-7830.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

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