RIding the Granfondo Whistler

The Granfondo Whistler was on September 7th. As mentioned earlier i had a minor crash and injured by outer thigh. The following was an email I sent to my riding clinic members reflecting on the ride. I did the shorter ride from Squamish to Whistler.

As some of you know, four weeks a go I had a fall on the bike after coming down 22nd street in the rain. This was minor as far as bike crashes go – no broken bones, just a large bruise and swelling on my outer thigh. The bike was undamaged. This did affect my training, and in the end prevented me from doing the entire ride. I was able to ride a shorter distance without pain, and decided to do the Half Fondo from Squamish.

My experience was likely a bit different from yours. 

I joined a small group of less than 100 in the Garibaldi Highlands Mall parking area. before 8am. There was the team of students being given some last minute advice from their coach on staying in groups, pace lining etc – some of them seemed barely 12 years old.

I met Rob and Heather from Vancouver riding their tandem bike in her first Fondo. There were other couples who were meeting up at the start line – the husbands riding from Vancouver to join their wives and then ride together to Whistler.

We watched the pace car and the lead group of three sprinting past us, followed a few minutes later by the peloton, and then gaps with smaller groups. We heard the sirens for the ambulance – somebody had been hurt not too far away from where we stood – were they OK?

We merged into the main flow of riders – fairly thinned out at this point. I warmed up on the relative flat before Alice Lake Rest stop – stopped briefly and then attacked the hill. 

I was passed by the guy I had met Friday from the Vancouver Vintage Bicycle club, riding his 1970’s Raleigh International – his steel bike and “regular” clothes a stark contrast to the sea of carbon fibre and logo’d lycra around him. I met an ex colleague at another rest stop, where we had a long chat – ruining my attempt at breaking three hours on the chip time!

In the end I crossed the finish line feeling pretty good – with no pain or soreness. I had decided that I would enjoy a shorter ride rather than possibly torture myself just to do the long ride in less than optimum condition. I am no Tyler Hamilton. 

For me this was a journey that started in March. Like some of you mentioned, I was able to ride up Cypress and to the base of Grouse, things I never thought I could have done last year. I watched each week as my Strava Segments got faster at lower heart rates. This is likely the fittest I have been for a long time. 

With the extra time I had not training to allow my leg to heal, I discovered a whole other world of endurance cycling on the Internet. A Google search for “Wide Tires’ lead me to Bicycle Quarterly Magazine’s website and the forgotten world of 1950s French designed steel bikes used for randoneurring – long distance riding over many days with little sleep. I got a new vocabulary of “low trail”, 650B, brevets, Grand Bois Hetres and exposed to new events that I had never heard of – PBP, LEL, BMB. Closer to home there is the Rocky Mountain 1200, the Cascade 1200, the VanIsle1000 and my favourite named event, the RAMROD. Chief cheerleader is Jan Heine. It is also possible to get a steel bike with wide tires that weighs less than 18 pounds. 

This has given me new direction for next year and beyond. I am not a racer, but enjoy challenging myself. I think this is where I will be heading over the next few years. To mix metaphors, for me, it is about the journey, not the finish line.

Some other thoughts about what I would have done differently for preparing for the Granfondo, knowing what I know now.

I think I would have focused on getting a lightweight randonneuring bike instead of a “racing bike”. The R3 is a great bike but is designed for more serious, faster riding. I don’t need such a fast machine, but something more stable that could take wider tires would be better for me and my style of riding. Given that, I have replaced the Vittoria Rubino Pro 23mm with Continental GP4000s 25mm. There is an improvement in the feel and the stability.

When encountering wet conditions I would reduce the pressure by 10 to 15psi, and possibly take a short 5 minute break to allow the oil on the road to wash away after the rain first starts. I would definitely work on wet weather riding skills and braking to make this second nature . We had an unusually dry summer, which made this difficult to practice, and then when it did rain, the roads were very slick. I might also consider replacing the front chain ring with a 44/28. This should give a bit more gearing on the climbs but reduce the maximum speed that I could generate.

I am pumped to do more riding next year, and even this winter on my hybrid bike. I am also looking at getting a randonneuring bike for my future rides as well, but will likely keep the R3 for shorter group rides and mountain climbs which we have a lot of around here.


About petergsimmons

Global citizenship is conferred on those who have lived in a variety of countries, and who don’t identify with any one culture. I am such a person. Having lived in Jamaica, Canada and Japan, I have been exposed to First World/Third World, East and West, North and South. This has lead to a rich living experience, open-mindedness and curiosity about the world around me. This variety of living conditions in human landscapes is coupled with equally diverse travels in natural landscapes from the jungles of South East Asia and South America to the Arctic tundra; tropical beaches to the Himalayas, resulting in an incredible journey through life itself.
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