Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015_09_12 Vancouver to Whistler Gran Fondo (Leon's Perspective)

Author:  Leon Matz

The trip to Canada for the Whistler Granfondo was a wonderful experience. The weekend was filled with challenges and fun with 4 great guys.  I am going to focus on two segments of time (Friday afternoon and Saturday morning).

After meeting in Federal Way on Friday morning, the five of us drove in 3 vehicles towards Canada. We stopped in Bellingham for a Subway lunch which turned out to be a little crazy since we could not find a convenient Subway.  After driving in circles, we finally found our lunch stop.

 Upon arriving in Vancouver, our first need was to find the U-Lock storage facility. We found it easily and then went on a tour of the facility looking for the best spot to keep our 5 bikes.  Through a set of e-mails I had found a place (U-Lock Storage) that said they were willing to do an overnight storage for our bikes for free. The guy even said he was willing to come in 3 hours early to open up for us Saturday morning. When I went to the office to fill out the paperwork, he then announced it would be $143.00. WHAT??? What about our agreement??? He denied ever agreeing to do it for free just a reduced monthly rate. I quickly ran out to the vehicles and announced the problem. After discussing the situation the group decided to try and explore the possibility of getting all the bikes into Tom’s vehicle. I went back inside to see if I could negotiate cheaper price. He was willing to reduce the price to $83.00.  Again I went back to the group to see what we wanted to do.  Mike and I felt we should go ahead and take that offer, stash our bikes in the storage unit, pick up our registration packets, and head to Whistler.  I felt very guilty for the miscommunication and was willing to pay the full amount. Tom, Dewayne and Les were more determined to not rent the facility. We were able to get all 5 bikes into the back of Tom’s Suburban and we made a plan for all 5 of us riding in the vehicle with the bikes from Whistler to Vancouver the morning of the race.  The only other issue was where were we going to park the Tom’s vehicle while we raced up to Whistler and spent Saturday night there. Les believed he knew of some street parking that was convenient.  The two hours or so we spent problem solving the situation is an example of why the Puyallup Cyclopaths is such a special group. Instead of griping and complaining about the failed agreement for parking they jumped into solving the problem.  It became a challenge to them to see if they could solve the puzzle without using a storage facility. The co-operation during this problem solving was amazing!!! One of the reasons people decided to not use the facility at a reduced rate was not the money  but just the fear the worker would fail to show up 3 hours early and we would not be able to do the race. A realistic fear.

So off to Whistler we went.  If you have never driven this road (the Sea to Sky Highway), I encourage you to do it.  The drive is beautiful! Frequent views of the colorful water, many small uninhabited islands, and a string of mountains some of which still have snow in areas. The road continually goes up and down and curves left and right. The mountains are on your right and the water on your left. It is an incredible drive!

On Saturday morning, our plan was to leave the condo at 4:30 AM. We were about 5 min late in leaving but that still left us with 2 hours to drive, unload and make it to the starting line. The drive in the dark went pretty quickly I kept track of the time and distance and was confident that we would arrive at our strip mall parking lot with 40 min. for us to get to the start line. As we neared Vancouver, work crews had us get off the freeway and drive on side roads.  Instead of going 55 mph we were now going 25-30.  The anxiety started to grow as we slowly approached the bridge that would take us to Stanley Park and the starting line. Finally, about 6:10 we arrived at the planned parking area but we did not stop. What is going on? After I went to bed on Friday night; Mike, Tom, and Les decided that the strip mall may have signs for towing authorized vehicles and found a hotel in Vancouver that we could park at for a fee (which turned out to be $50). We did find the hotel after running around the block a few times. We unloaded quickly hit he restroom and made on our bikes to make it to the start line.  It was very stressful and hectic and the worst possible way to start a race but we did make it to the starting line with a little time to spare.

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