We asked the question: what does RBC GranFondo Whistler mean to you?
“My dad is a pretty fit guy (always has been) and he never seems to stop moving; he is always working on his vintage sports car or drafting the plans for a new renovation to the house. He has always been fairly athletic, but he really tested that athleticism by completing his first Whistler GranFondo the day that he turned 50 years old.
“At the time that dad completed his first Fondo, there was no possible way that I could comprehend the amount of mental and physical strength and willpower that it took for him to complete that task. I was morbidly obese, stressed out of my mind in a toxic relationship, I was suffering from an unstable mental health disorder, I had zero motivation to exercise or to make any healthy decisions and I was incredibly unhappy with the direction that my life had taken. This was all very evident to my dad and he worked very hard to set a positive example for me and to encourage me regularly to start taking control of my health. His persistence eventually paid off and I was able to slowly turn my life in a direction that encompassed healthy living.
“On the week of dad’s 55th birthday, he rode his third Whistler GranFondo and I wanted to see him cross the finish line ever so badly. My mom and I stayed in Whistler Village the night before the race and we woke up early to stake our place along the fence to cheer for the cyclists crossing the finish line. I will never forget seeing the look my dad’s face when our eyes met moments before he crossed the line: I felt electricity run through my body, and I immediately new that the Fondo was something that I needed to experience from the saddle of my own road bike.
“My dad did everything in his power to support my dream and my training the coming year. We started swimming olympic lengths together during the winter and I also started cycle training on an indoor trainer for the first time.
“In the early summer 2016, we set two endurance tests for ourselves that we would have to complete together before we registered for the Fondo: ride from Kitsilano to White Rock/Crescent Beach and back (122km) and to cycle up Cypress Mountain. Both endurance tests were THE most difficult challenges that I have ever put my mind and body through. However, were able to complete both tasks by mid August, so that meant that the 2016 Whistler GranFondo was a “go”!
“I was a nervous wreck the morning of the Fondo, to say the least! The amount of adrenaline running through my body was astronomical and it only increased when we crossed the start line in Stanley Park. I was terrified to cycle up Taylor Way for the first time, but little did I know that this tiny little steep climb was only a drop in the bucket compared to the Britannia Beach and Fury Creek climbs!
“Throughout our 8 hour ride, regardless of how fast or slow I was cycling, my dad was either by my side or faithfully at the top of the hill waiting for me with a huge smile on his face or a hug for encouragement when I was feeling low.
“My dad and I were two of the very last people to cross the finish line in Whistler Village that day, but the important part is that we FINISHED! Words can’t describe the sense of accomplishment that I felt when I saw my mom cheering me on at the finish line, and with my dad’s hand on my shoulder as I wept tears of exhaustion and happiness all at the same time. I never could have imagined completing such a physically or mentally challenging feat without my dad’s steady encouragement, patience, understanding, sense of humour, time, energy and hugs while I cried tears of joy in celebration of my victories.
“With his influence in my life, I am now in a solid routine of exercising 3-5 days a week, I have lost 85 pounds and my weight continues to drop, my mental health disorder is stable and manageable, I choose to eat healthy and well balanced meals, I have a solid sense of self confidence and I have a renewed sense of joy in my life.
“I will never give up on training to become the best version of myself, and I have my dad and the Whistler GranFondo to thank for that.”
In 2017, Liz and her dad rode together again and took 90 minutes off their 2016 finishing time. In 2018, they’re aiming to shave off another hour.