The 7 "official" starters of the Fat Ass Fondo, Summer 2011 edition, on Saturday 13 August. From left to right: Reza Ghazizadeh, Rob Jones, Ean Jackson, William Jans, Paul Burns, Eric Derbez and Ron Adams.
It's tough getting up at 5:00 am for anything. However, when my Ironman watch woke me from a deep slumber on this morning, I was actually keen to wake it and shake it. It was still dark outside. I tried to not wake anyone else in the house as I snuck downstairs.
Although I had piled shorts, t-shirt and bike jersey downstairs the night before, I was otherwise totally unprepared for the adventure that I'd soon be participating in. I used to ride a lot. Work, kids and running stuff had taken precedence over the past 5-odd years, so I'd lost the rhythm of routine for a long ride. Dang, I'd not even checked tire pressure, let alone review my tools and patch kits and menu and here it was I needed to start riding at 6:15 if I were to meet Ron and get to the start at West Georgia and Burrard for the 7:00 am start!
Before I dive in to the part about the bike ride, I should clarify The Five Minute Rule. It's an unwritten rule for road trips that technically should be overtly shared with all potential participants in a road trip, but in this case, was not.
Fearing the 5 minute rule may apply to me this morning, I rushed through my last minute prep and raced down Capilano Road to meet Ron with enough time to leave us 30 minutes to reach the start. Given that many of today's ride participants (incorrectly) saw me as the organizer and that Ron and I would have to ride several kilometers against the starters, I calculated we could be up to 10 minutes late and still make the group ride. Ron wasn't quite ready, so those 10 minutes were gobbled-up in his driveway.
Ron was riding his spiffy new Cervelo rocketship bike. Nice! I was on my classic aluminum/carbon fiber boomerang bike, the Softride Powerwing. I labored to keep up with Ron as we raced over the Lions Gate bridge, through Stanley Park and up West Georgia to the official start of our ride at Burrard. (Not by coincidence, this is also the start of the Vancouver to Whistler Gran Fondo.) It was about 6:50 when we got there.
None of us really knew who would show up. After all, this was a Club Fat Ass Flash event that was free, open to anyone and very casual. We looked around at each other, the bikes and the clothes. I knew everyone, but I'd only ridden with Ron before. Who would smoke who? Who would die like a dog?
So, after the obligatory start line photo (above) we set off down West Georgia Street at 5 minutes past 7:00. I would later learn that Jason Long arrived a few short minutes later and wondered, "WTF? Where is everybody?" I think he rode home and went to bed, as our paths were not to cross on this fine day!
The bumpy sidewalk through Stanley Park woke me up. It also loosed a bolt on the pad of my aero bars. My bike was first to loose a part. When I realized what part had fallen off, I managed to stop and rescue my pad before it was run over by a truck. The dudes patiently waited for me at the base of Taylor Way. Looked like I was going to be the weak link in the group today. I apologized for causing a break in the momentum and stuffed the pad into my shirt. Oh well, who needs aero bars, anyway?
Once in our riding zone, we kept fairly close together up to Lions Bay. Interesting to note the different riding styles, how some spin while others prefer to push a big gear, and comfort level in the draft zone.
While we did pause occasionally to regroup, our first pit stop was at the Seven-11 in Brackendale (Squamish). This place has washrooms, slurpees, donuts, burritos... everything a participant in the Fat Ass Fondo could want! As we pulled up to our pit stop, I noticed a couple of people doing a last-minute shakedown on a yellow Softride Powerwing (my funky bike.) What are the odds? We traded pleasentries, but focus was on food and checking-in with loved ones to confirm that we were alive, well, and 1/2 way to Whistler. Next stop: Brandywine Falls Picnic area.
The day was magnificent. Vehicle traffic was respectful of our bikes and there were scores, no hundreds, of other cyclists on the road. As I rode up one of the many long hills on the stretch from Brackendale to Brandywine, I began to notice the stuff that lay discarded along the side of the road. I counted 15 single work gloves, many sharp metal objects that one with high pressure tires would want to avoid, a couple of broken plastic chairs, the obligatory broken bottles and discarded cans, although I am pleased to say, not that many of them.
We overtook several riders. Many, some riding in perfect pace lines, blew by us. (Betcha they didn't start in downtown Vancouver, though!) While many riders struggled in the heat and on the hills, all were smiling.
By this time, Rob and Eric had established their place at the front of our pack. That's about when Eric's front derailleur discombobulated. He tore it off and stuck the twistd metal in his shirt. Good thing it wasn't a rear derailleur, as we had many hills to go!
Seeing KC, Vicky and Cathy at Brandywine was a wonderful surprise. They had cold water (important note... we didn't find a fountain at Brandywine), gooey treats, potato chips and watermelon for us. Love you, girls!
While only about 20K, the last push into Whistler was tough. William and I chatted and traded off the pull. Lots and lots of company as we came into Whistler, but judging from the clean jerseys and crispness of their pace, most of the riders were out for a spin around town. There was some debate over where the true finish line was. This lead to a bit of confusion when it came time to take the finisher photo, as Paul and Rerza were waiting about a block away.
How long did it take us, you ask? Well, depending on who you ask, our riding time was either 4:45 or 4:47. Of course, when you take into consideration our stops to regroup and refuel, total riding time was about 30 minutes more.
Many thanks to Paul and Vicky (and Vicky's folks) for hosting an impromptu hot tub party afterwards and to Jen for her help with logistics.
This was a blast... hope to do it again before the monsoons come. Join us!