September 11, 2010
2010 Whistler GranFondo
by Nic Hamilton
I was first introduced to the GranFondo concept early this spring when a
friend was participating in the San Diego GranFondo. I had never
imagined what it would be like to race at the front of an event
including thousands of people, and it wasn’t until just recently when I
had the chance to experience it.
The route had began in downtown Vancouver and traveled through Stanley
Park and across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. To have those roads closed to
traffic and allow for cyclists to invade what lay beyond the narrow,
curb-side lane has been a dream for nearly every Vancouver cyclist. The
closures continued up the newly reconstructed Sea to Sky Highway into
Whistler. The team did a training ride a few weeks ago to prepare for
this event, and I am glad we did because the spectacular scenery was
lost to me as I raced up to the mountains. Rolling up freshly paved
roads with constant scenic views to distract you from the effort of
getting up to Whistler was what made this ride so desirable to
approximately 4,000 people who completed the ride.
The Giro event included a mix of local racers from all abilities. It was
great to see some local pros come out and help make the ride difficult.
Nate took a flier right from the start and “trucked” away with one other
rider to ensure he would get over the bigger climbs. That allowed for
the rest of the team to follow the moves and conserve for the climb out
of Squamish. The nature of the course made it very interesting to race
on. The natural climbers would be able to splinter groups up the climbs,
but sitting on had a huge advantage on the highway grade roads, and
made the flats and down hills just as important; the course suited an
all around rider as it was sure to be a select group coming into the
finish. In fact, the group would split over a climb and if it came back
together it would only last until the next climb in which the same
selection would occur… it was very obvious early on who the players at
the end would be.
Adam, Nate and I were able to stick it into the rolling run in to the finish.
Nate put a steady and super strong effort into riding the last half
hour of the race. When things got spicy Adam and I took turns covering
and instigating attacks. We both played some cards but the nature of the
run in deemed an escape impossible and a sprint inevitable. I gave it a
go in the finally but came up a little short in second place.
The arrival was a welcomed sight, as was the massive Beer Garden sponsored
by Red Truck Beer. What a great way to check off the last race of the
year - a big party in one of Canada’s most spectacular mountain towns.
The festivities began as soon as we were done the race and I couldn’t
help but hum a jimmy buffet song “its five o’clock somewhere”. A big
thanks to Red Truck Beer and the Whistler Brew House for a great party
as well as to RBC and the Whistler GranFondo organization committee for
putting together a fabulous event. Word has it the 2011 event is sold
out and a September biking legacy has begun!
Photo courtesy: Neil McIver