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.
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.