It’s the morning of the Whistler Granfondo. I roll out of bed, down a coffee and throw on my kit. I peer outside, decide it looks cold then throw on some leg and arm warmers for good measure. David left our house hours ago, he’s riding the forte, where you bike to the top of Cypress mountain before carrying on to finish the rest of the 120ish kilometers to Whistler. The big thrill for people like David is in doing this you get to wear special red socks during it so people know you’re crazy.
He vows that with his one hour head start, he’s going to go up and down Cypress and then catch me.
I make it my life’s work not to let this happen.
I roll up to the startline, WAY too hot and need my warmers off immediately (worst cycling temperature judge ever) with my trusty crew of badass biker chicks and wait.
In my mind I figure I’ve gone to the bathroom enough times this morning to be ready to go. Obviously my body disagrees. Shit. Literally.
My buddy Sian offers to hold my bike while I dash off. This is THREE minutes till race start and during the national anthem. Regardless of being disrespectful, I gotta go.
During the 30 second countdown I dash back across the grass towards my bike and Sian, who looks slightly concerned/planning what she’ll do with two bikes if the gun went off before I got back. Luckily that plan was not needed
With the neutral start, we cruise through Stanley Park and over the Lions Gate Bridge (my favourite part).
Approaching Taylor Way, BAM, neutral start over. We sprint up Taylor and round on to the highway. It’s GO time (as a triathlete, I might never fully understand sprints during 120km rides, but oh well). Last year, I was dropped on Taylor Way, (yes after only 5km) mostly because I was marvelling at the woman cheering in a housecoat. I wasn’t going to let it happen this time! (Note: housecoat woman makes an appearance this year too!)
We jostle for good spots in packs, ride to the front of the pack, jump on the back of another one and do it again.
First fuel station comes – No, I remember people who know about biking telling me not to stop. I feel a bit sad because I love free food. We ride on and I make a mental note to take extra snacks at the finish line to make up for it.
We approach Squamish. Up to this point we’ve stayed mostly at sea level. From here on it’s uphill. I’m in a great pack so I hardly care, except when everyone else somehow knows to surge out of Squamish and I don’t.
I find some groups, they’re not the ones for me. I ride on, slightly afraid of taking all day without the help of drafting and then it dawns on me. I do IRONMANs. If anyone can come to grips with biking uphill for hours alone. It’s ME.
I relax and settle in for the long haul.
Another fuel station. I've run out of everything by now but I don't want to stop. The triathlon part of my brain that thinks we're running a marathon after is screaming.
I’m getting closer to Whistler, pedaling steadily uphills, working on my less than awesome downhill skills here and there, then I hear people slowly approaching me.
Oh boy! A GROUP!
Oh shit. Red socks. David?
Phew. Strangers. I join them. They’re exhausted. Crazies…
We work together. Me and two other guys do the majority of pulling and we approach Callaghan which isn’t too far from the finish. For the first time I get excited that we could break 4:00 hours.(Last year I took 4:30.) I tell the group – you guys we could break 4 HOURS! Some are excited, some are zombies who don’t understand English anymore and the Red Socks point out that it’d be more like 5 hours for them. Crazies...
We push. Some people get dropped. I keep trying to go off on my own and then get absorbed back into the group.
Now in Whistler a few KM from the finish, I play cat and mouse with a man that seems to be hell-bent on not getting beat by a girl. Jokes on him, there are probably lots of girls way ahead of us! Take that.
Finish line is TWO turns away. I sprint – we all sprint!
Final time: four-oh-TWO. Annoyingly close and so much fun. David finishes a couple minutes later.
Safe till next year.
I take as many snacks as I can fit in my pockets.