Whistler: There & Back Again

Whistler: There & Back Again

Last weekend, I wanted to do an epic ride since my birthday was around the corner and I would be a year closer to granny-status. I rounded up a couple of friends who are always down for some suffering since misery loves company, and we decided to do a last-minute ride from Vancouver to Whistler and back due to the sunny weather that was forecasted after a wet and gloomy week in Vancouver. Hey, we must ride the crap out of our bikes before the cold weather really settles in, right?

The other day, I was unfortunate enough to wait for the bus to work, with a long line of kids attending the college down the street, feeling extremely old and granny-like. Quarter-life crisis? I think not but it put into perspective how my time is limited before I must attend to womenly duties (so fucking unfair, by the way). And just for the record, I didn’t commute with my bike that day because I was having tight-muscle-cyclist-probz and a lot of stuff to bring to work. And I also had my hair done and didn’t want to ruin it with a helmet. And I wanted to wear my new shoes.

One of the benefits of being young, other than infinite energy, is the freedom to do full day rides…

… and coming home whenever you want, being able to crumple on the floor and passing out on the foam-roller with a glass of red wine tipped over and seeping into your white carpet (which got you tipsy after a single sip due to exhaustion)— and in the absence of screaming kids and nagging spouses. Ah, the joys of youth and little responsibility. Yes, I am taking none of my freedom for granted! Especially after spending the previous night at a pub with colleagues who were were so kind as to tell me stories of their off-springs defecating all over the place and me repeating, “FML, I’m getting old and that’s going to be me one day...”

Anyway, this was the second time I’ve ridden from Vancouver to Whistler and back this summer and it wasn’t anything short of a glorious 4700m climb and a stunning 250km sufferfest along the Sea to Sky Highway, one of the world’s most beautiful coastal drives. Now if you think driving along the Sea to Sky is beautiful, imagine experiencing it on a humble human-powered machine: the bicycle— the suffering aside of course, unless you are masochist like most fit-peeps I know. I cannot find words to describe the experience so it maybe time to quote Ernest Hemingway:

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.

Trying to soak in the immense beauty while avoiding roadside debris and watching out for traffic can become a sticky problem but I’ve always felt so blessed to be able to enjoy this long stretch of road on my beloved bicycle.

If you are fit enough to take on this challenge of cycling along the Sea-to-Sky to Whistler and brave enough for the return journey home, and if you love pain, unexpected headwinds, challenging climbs, exhilarating descents, tremendous beauty all around, gratifying feelings of achievement and just plain happiness, I urge you to just do it!

But if you think a ride like this will be hard, imagine trying to eat back the 6000+ calories you would burn… now that’s a hard life.

But a wonderful life.

Whistler: There & Back Again

If it’s safety that is holding you back from riding the Sea to Sky and you can’t afford an entry to the Whistler Gran Fondo, where they close off the entire highway for you, it can be safe as long as you stay alert and know what you are doing. I’ve never felt in danger while riding on the highway where cars tend to race by at frightening speeds. Perhaps I am just lucky but there never seemed to be a lot of traffic… just a lot of random debris on the shoulders you need to watch out for. The shoulders are mostly wide but may get pretty narrow at some points. Nothing to fear! However, you should always be cautious, but being confident on the road really helps as well.

Of course, it will also help to not grace the Sea to Sky on your bicycle during winter when it’s snowing or in the pouring rain at night-time but I will assume you are smarter than that and value your life as much as I do. Save it for a sunny day and you will have the time of your life.

Have you ridden the Sea to Sky Highway on a bicycle?

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    Don’t Hate On The Hills

    Don’t Hate On The Hills

    I hate hills.

    If you are a cyclist in Vancouver or any city with hilly-terrain, hating on hills isn’t going to do you any good because there is no possible way you can avoid them if you want to go out for a good ride. Instead, look at them in a different way— I get excited when I see hills because to me, they’re not the monster that I’m going to die riding up, but simply an insanely good workout.

    Besides, hills don’t do anything to you except bestow you with great legs and an amazing ass.

    You can’t move Mother Nature so the next best thing to do is accept it.

    Change your mindset now and embrace those hills!

    You love them. Admit it.


      Hey, Look Around You

      Hey, Look Around You

      One summer evening in the beginning of August, I was spinning home alone along Marine Drive in West Vancouver after a hot, hard and hilly 110 kilometer ride to Squamish and back. I had just separated from my riding buddy and I had 30 kilometers to go, my legs felt like jelly and I was having delusions of ice cream and strawberry milkshakes from White Spot. I was still relishing my ride of solitude (something you appreciate as a cyclist to escape the busyness of everyday life) but I had no intentions on hammering it home, so that evening, I was doing something that I unfortunately don’t do enough of: looking up and soaking in my surroundings. I’ve been on this route dozens of times and was familiar with every hill, pothole, a dip in the pavement, and when the tree-lined roads would suddenly curve and open up to sprawling water views…

      But that evening, I recall looking up and not recognizing anything. Did I somehow take the wrong exit because I was lethargic and hungry for real food? Not to mention, my phone was dead and I forgot to bring the inflator for my CO2 cartridges if I were to get a flat (I would have been epically screwed). Moments of panic settled in as I searched for recognizable sights. No, I was sure I was going the right direction because there was only one way to get home and it was straight. I think. I kept on riding anyway.

      It dawned on me that even though I have ridden this particular road back and forth countless times, I was always on autopilot because the goal was always to get to the destination, maybe grab a coffee, loop around and go home. Typical training route with no traffic lights, minimal cars, great views (when you do glance up) and absolute freedom. I thought I knew the the way well but I guess I barely knew it at all. And although I do usually glance up from time to time, I have never actually immersed myself in its details because I was too busy catching my breath— the houses, the driveways, the intersections, the school… those were usually blurry forms that may swiftly materialize in your peripheral vision as you ride by, lost in your own suffering.

      Suddenly, an opening formed between the trees and I caught a glimpse of the Lions Gate Bridge in the far distance. Finally, something I recognized! I was at peace again and on my way home. I love riding my bike.

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