On Saturday I rode in the fourth annual GranFondo Whistler. It was my fourth time.
Like many people, I usually participate in an event once or twice until I feel like I have gained the most out of the experience and then I move on. But for some reason, the 122-kilometre ride to Whistler continues to call me back year after year.
As I was reflecting on my performance this year, I had to ask myself if I will do it again in 2014 and for what purposes.
I came up with four reasons to do it and zero reasons why I shouldn’t.
My first reason is simple and goes takes me back to Kindergarten: I don’t want to be left out. With almost 5,000 cyclists making the climb from downtown Vancouver to the Whistler Village, it means most of my friends and clients will be riding and I can’t bear to miss out on this experience with them.
The second reason is purely competitive. I am extremely competitive and more so with myself than anyone else. This was the first year I didn’t improve on my time from last year and perhaps this tells me that three hours and fifty five minutes is as fast as I can ride to Whistler — but I don’t believe it.
I know the mistakes I made in the ride, what training I missed during the year and how I can improve on both for next year. Not improving my time doesn’t feel like a defeat but rather a learning experience and a challenge for next year.
Thirdly, I can’t bear to pass on a ride that starts only 15 minutes from my doorstep.
The convenience of rolling from my house and crossing the Burrard Bridge to arrive in the starting corral 20 minutes before the national Anthem in order to participate in a fully supported ride to one of the most beautiful cities in the world seems nothing but silly to pass up.
Plus, it has now become a yearly tradition that marks the end of my summer riding season. Each year as I ride into Whistler, my mind quickly accepts the idea of trading in my long weekend bike rides for skate skiing and snowboarding. It seems like a natural transition and now even something of a tradition.
However, with the introduction of a three-day adventure ride, the Intrepid Stage Ride in Kelowna from Sept. 20 to 22, the summer-to-winter transition might be postponed since I still haven’t tackled the Intrepid.
My fourth reason is essential to who I am. Cycling is what I do and what I love.
If I don’t sign up for races and events, sure, I can still ride but riding loses some of the spark. I need a goal to keep me focused on my training and get me out the door on rainy days. I enjoy the anticipation of the event throughout the year.
Before every event, I still get small stomach pangs of nervousness, which tells me riding is something I truly care about.
But most of all, I love the endorphin rush of riding alongside so many people, all who are there to reach the same goal and with whom I can reminisce afterwards. As we sit on the other side of the finish line, we can spend hours replaying the pain of each hill, the excitement of leading a pack or the thrill of hitting new speeds on a downhill. Sharing these experiences with my friends is why I will be back again next year. Besides, registration is already open.
Kristina Bangma is a coach, personal trainer and writer with a love of riding and racing. Email questions to email@example.com.
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