|The Grand Fondle|
The Saturday after Labour Day is usually one of my favourite days of the year. It's right in there with Christmas, Thanksgiving, and my birthday, and do you know why? Because it's the day of the Grand Fondle Whistler. You might wonder what makes it worth the fredly sum of three hundred dollars to ride a paltry 122 km (75 m), and that's a fair question. Half of the Sea to Sky highway is closed to cars for the Fondle so legions of Freds can get a feel for the group
grope ride while they pretend to race like the pros.
It's marvellous. Life is a hands-on event, you know. It's all about the experience.
I love to Fondle, but even so, I almost didn't get to first base this year. I registered at seven pm the night before the ride, registration closed at eight, and then sods law ensured I was overcome with some back-to-school-bug the boy dragged home and was nauseous by ten. In the morning I gagged on an egg, but managed to keep it down, and was still totally stoked for the ride. I mean, come on. That little space in the shoulder of the road between the rumble strip and the drainage grates gets mighty small when there's any kind of debris on the road, which there almost always is. It will be another 365 days before the Sea to Sky highway is swept, cleared of cars and becomes a Mecca for all things fred-tastic once again. Can you blame me for my excitement?
It was raining a little at the start corral, and a quick check on the smartphone weather app indicated it could rain all morning,
so I dithered till the very last moment about whether to carry a jacket with me or not.
Sooooo... to sum it up:
I spent a lot of money to ride my bike on a rainy Saturday morning in September
and I liked it.
To be fair, the rain stopped once we left Horseshoe bay, and 122 km and 1700 meters of climbing after it all began, I arrived in Whistler Village, where I promptly threw up. It was sometime around noon-ish, though we'll never know for sure, since my times are not posted on the results.
Apparently $300 doesn't ensure that you receive a working timing chip.
Now here's the thing.
This is the little picture of the ride designed to put fear in the heart of the Fondler. You see how it's an up and down kind of ride for the first half? Well, that little bit is deceptively hilly. There are a few going-down-at-woo-hoo-speeds bits to give your legs a bit of a rest and your heart a bit of a thrill, but once you pass Squamish, those woo-hoo moments are all but overwhelmed by the sheer climbing-ness of it all. In the past, I've stayed the night in Whistler and had a lift home the next day, but that just seems all wrong, somehow. If you're going to haul your ass up that big-ass hill, then you should definitely woo-hoo it all the way back down again, don't you think?
I think so. So that's what I did. I forced some food down and climbed back on my bike for the return trip to Squamish. It went by much faster than the ride up, and when I got to town, the loveliest of women had a delicious dinner and a cold glass of wine ready and waiting. It was heavenly. Plus, I got to sleep in a princess bed, which by that time was truly divine.
It just doesn't get any better than that.
The next morning I set out to finish the journey home. I took it pretty easy cause my legs were tired, but it was absolutely gorgeous... food for the soul. It looked something like this:
You see how I'm smiling? That's cause I love my life and all of the amazing places these two wheels take me. Try it for yourself. Give it a go, and then you'll know.
Life is better on a bike.