Part of falling in love with an activity is setting goals and actually achieving them. I’ve found with anything that I do: career-wise, fitness, or even just saving up to buy something, the sense of working hard and succeeding in your goal fulfills like nothing else.
One of my first ‘results’ was as a kid. I played a lot of golf growing up, and fondly remember having a breakthrough round of 2-over-par 74 when I was 16 years old (with a double bogey on the 18th hole), which set the precedent for a decent game heading into university where I played for the newly developed University of Victoria team for two years. I was too young and naive, however to realize that my hard work was paying off in the form of tangible results. I was just having fun.
With cycling though, I am witnessing in real time that you truly do get out what you put in. And even more dramatically, those days you take off really come back to bite you when you head out again.
I fully commit to new things in order to learn, participate and extract as much out of them as possible. Expectedly, I like setting my bar high and achieving goals (or go down in flames trying). Some, like my psychologist cousin, consider this a ‘diving in head first’ mentality and I pridefully and blissfully agree.
As such, when I began falling in love with cycling (sometime last winter whilst ratcheted on to my trainer in my TV room) I started considering what goals I should set for myself. I thought about some of the popular charity rides such as the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer (which I will never participate in – see here). Modest internet research didn’t lend me many other results. But it did take me to the RBC Gran Fondo Whistler.
Investigating this epic ride, and I use the term ‘epic’ deliberately here, I discovered that it isn’t so much of a race as it is a ‘grand ride,’ open to everyone to take at their own reasonable pace and with full support and aid along the way. 120 kilometers long and 2,000 meters of elevation gain from Georgia Street in Vancouver all the way to Whistler. With 7,000 participants, I figured this would be a great challenge but attainable. Here’s a look at the route and topography of the course:
So I registered. More specifically, I registered for the RBC Gran Fondo Whistler as a package with their smartly-organized and proactive “My First Fondo” clinics which have been running over 14 weeks all summer long to help ambitious people like me prepare for something of this scale and intensity.
Part of the training regimen has been weekly group rides and education on things like riding in groups, safety and technique. Little details that we might take for granted, including how to communicate various signals and intentions, how to consume food and drink while riding, and how to climb hills and descend safely (I’ll cover what I’ve learned about each of these elements in future posts).
Of course much of our training has been self-directed. We’ve been encouraged and instructed that we must complete several additional weekly rides of varying lengths and intensities to prepare our bodies and minds for the challenge.
Long story short (I will post about my specific rides later on), I’ve been head down and pedalling hard all summer, and seeing great results. In fact, during the winter months (December thru April) – before the clinic even started – I shed about 15 pounds, and frankly I didn’t know I had that much to lose! I’m feeling stronger than ever in this, mid-August, merely 2 and a half weeks before the big ride.