For three local moms, the GranFondo became not only a lesson in road biking, but also one in time management.
Christina Rice, Natasha Heslop and Maggie Scarlette-Phillips took on the 122-kilometre challenge on Saturday (Sept. 7) and all three zoomed by their cheering friends and family in Squamish along the way.
Heslop told The Chief she came up with the plan for the trio to train and ride together but said her friends were a little reluctant at first.
“We were unsure if we would have the time to train,” she said. “We all have small kids and have super busy schedules. But we managed to swing our schedules with our husbands and we made it happen.”
The trio trained as a group once a week and individually three times to prepare for the ride.
“We’re the typical Squamish mountain biking moms,” she said. “And we figured this would be a fun way to mix it up and do something local. We’re not cycling pros but wanted to be a part of a new, exciting local event and see some of the scenery we have on the Sea to Sky Highway.”
All three women completed the race with Rice posting the fastest time of 4:27:32. Rice was 71st among all females but that wasn’t a surprise to Heslop.
“Christina has competed in the Ironman so we kind of knew we wouldn’t see her for most of the day,” she said, laughing. “We waved goodbye as we reached the Lions Gate Bridge. Maggie and I rode together until about Squamish.”
Scarlette-Phillips finished the ride in 4:48:36, while Heslop reached the finish line at 5:12:08. Heslop said it wasn’t really about the times but more about the overall experience.
“It went really well — I finished the whole race and I think I kept a smile on my face the whole time,” she said. “It ended up being more about the event, not really the race itself. It ended up being so much fun and there was so much good energy.”
She said her favourite part of the ride was near the start of the course.
“The beginning is really exciting,” she said. “The sun was coming up as we were riding over the Lions Gate Bridge and it was so exciting. The finish line and seeing the other riders and sharing stories with them was also really fun.”
Heslop said once riders go through Squamish is when the difficulty ramps up.
“From Downtown Vancouver to Squamish is really fun,” she said. “Everyone has fresh legs and there’s lots of fans and entertainment on the streets. By the time you hit Squamish you sort of revive a bit because the crowd is so great. But after that is when the hill climbing seems like it’s never going to end. Around Brandywine Falls you think the race is almost over but there’s still a lot of climbing to do.”
She said the trio enjoyed the ride and plans to compete in another GranFondo in the future. She also offered advice to those who might be in her shoes and considering trying the event out.
“The No. 1 thing to remember is it’s a race for everyone — you don’t have to be a super experienced rider,” she said. “Give yourself a couple months to train and take it one day at a time. It’s not about how fast you do it, it’s about the experience of the race and how fun it is.”
About 50 locals had a terrific time while helping riders at the Alice Lake aid station, Steve Shard, part of Team Corsa, wrote in an email to The Chief. Members of the group started arriving at 6:30 a.m. and stayed through takedown that afternoon, he said.
In between, the volunteers “made sure every GranFondo participant was very well looked after — whether it was stacking their bikes during their rest stop, providing much-needed hydration and/or nutrition and even administering any needed medical attention or free bike servicing,” Shard wrote.
Riders were extremely appreciative, with one telling the group the aid station was “the best he had ever experienced in any race/event he had ever partaken in,” Shard said.
For complete results from the event, visit www.rbcgranfondo.com.