After spending a week riding in the Pyrenees, I was really looking forward to the Glotman Simpson Cypress Challenge this year.
For the past five years, Glotman Simpson cycling club has been organizing this event specifically to raise funds for pancreatic cancer research. The engineering firm sponsors the ride in the hope that one day they won't have to ride to raise money because a cure has been found-and we can just ride for the fun of it. This year 375 riders signed up, raising over $150,000.
I arrived Saturday at 7: 30 a.m. to volunteer before participating in the ride. The party was already in full swing and more riders were starting to stream in on bikes and in cars. The early risers milled about socializing, sipping on Starbucks coffee donated by Buntain Insurance and munching on yummy Lucky's Doughnuts and cinnamon buns. My job was to sell raffle tickets for an amazing list of prizes including a kids bike, a wind trainer, a coffee maker and several other items that any bike geek like myself would love to own.
After registration closed, I had the chance for a quick warm-up before the 9 a.m. start. While we were warming up, a fellow Glotman member asked me for some last minute advice to help him beat his time from last year. I gave him three things to focus on.
1. Start slow so you don't blow up.
2. Latch (draft) onto someone's wheel and don't let go unless you can grab a new wheel that is going faster. There is really only minimal draft benefit when climbing, but mentally it will help you maintain a faster pace.
3. Drink lots of water because even though it is a short ride, you will quickly lose strength and energy if you are dehydrated.
The starting line was placed before the intersection to Cypress Bowl Lane, otherwise known as "the road leading to Mulgrave School." The corral was self seating with time posters helping the riders choose a starting position that would finish within a certain time. The finish line was just before the ticket booth for the mountain's cross country skiing trails for a total of 13.5 kilometres.
As a Glotman Simpson Race Ambassador, I signed up for the full 13.5 km climb. I definitely want to support cancer research, but I also signed up because I love a challenge, especially when it involves a bike.
Although it is a ride and not a race and the roads aren't closed to the public, it was an opportunity to push myself to see what I can accomplish. In the last 10 years that I have lived in Vancouver, I have ridden Cypress more times than I can count, but I never push myself as hard as I do when I have a number pinned on my back.
If riding up the side of a mountain for 13 kilometres sounds too long for you, they also have a shorter option of finishing your ride at the first lookout for a total of five kilometres. You still get to participate in a fun event and come away with a goodie bag filled with cycling essentials such as: water bottles, GU gels, Honey Stinger Waffles and a multi-tool for your bike. You get all of this for a minimum donation of only $25, plus the chance to ride a fantastically well-run event in our own backyard. I'm looking forward to next year to see if I can break my current record.