Ready Set Pedal

A charity bike ride has changed my life :)

Archive for the category “Vancouver”

Gastown Grand Prix: July 11 2012

A day after the UBC Grand Prix…. is the legendary Gastown Grand Prix. This GP went on a 3-year hiatus due to lack of sponsorship funding ….  Global Relay, a Gastown-based technology firm has saved the day however and have brought this super prestigeous event to life again. Way to go Global Relay… and all the other sponsors who helped make this happen!

Twitter: @gastowngp

Facebook: Gastown Grand Prix

Many famous cyclists have raced in this important event over the decades, making the Gastown Grand Prix (GP) one of the most popular one-day bike races in North America.

Gastown Grand Prix 2006 Copyright: Greg Descantes

The Instigator:

Back in 1973, Dr. Roger Sumner, a Vancouver native and bike racer, organized a race with a primary goal of showing the public how spectacular top level bike racing in Canada COULD be.

He wanted to create a quality race that would be highly accessible to the public. Gastown, Vancouver’s popular historic district, has streets lined with cafes and restaurants and is in a central downtown location…. so it fit the bill. Sumner himself competed in the Gastown Grand Prix until 1978. He was later inducted into the BC Hall of Fame for his 30 years of service to the sport in the roles of racer, coach, manager and racing organizer. Tragically, he died in 2000 after being hit by a car while riding his bike!!

The Route:

Start & Finish line:  Intersection of Cambie and Water streets, site of Gastown world famous steam clock. Riders will travel west on Cambie into the hairpin turn at Water and Cordova. From there they’ll ride east on Cordova past The Cambie and past Army and Navy before turning left onto Carrall Street and left again around the Gassy Jack statue and back onto Water street towards the steam clock.

This isn’t a super long route…. judging by this event’s popularity & central location and some of the images I’ve seen … the streets will be hopping with spectators!

Women’s Race: Start Time: 6:15pm (30 laps – 36 km)

Men’s Race: Start Time: 7:30pm (50 laps – 60km)

Awards: Start Time: 9:15pm

A vintage clip of when Lance Armstrong won this race back in 1991 (Soooo vintage – the graphics, the fashion, the hairstyles!):


UBC Grand Prix: July 10 2012

Following the Tour de Delta is the UBC Grand Prix.  For those reading this who live outside of Vancouver – UBC stands for University of British Columbia, which is a beautiful place to go cycling… and is also a fantastic university.  Had I been raised in this city I would have wanted to pursue my Undergrad at UBC for sure! It’s located on this beautiful peninsula with large old-growth trees, beaches, spectacular mountain & sea views, etc.

Facebook: UBC Grand Prix

Twitter: @ubcgrandprix

Copyright: Stefan Lozinsky

I stand to be corrected but I believe this is the 2nd edition – so it’s a fairly new event. The cyclists will race a 1.5km circuit and navigate around the course for 40-65 laps.

Race Schedule:

Corporate Team Challenge Race Start time: 3:15pm

Women’s pro race Start time: 5:15pm

Men’s pro race Start time: 6:30pm

I think the Corporate Team Challenge is a great idea. There will have about 20 teams participating (Telus, Sugoi, KPMG, etc), and the idea is for the team members to experience what it feels like to be a pro rider!

Copyright: Stefan Lozinsky

Aren’t the photos by Stefan Lozinsky so beautiful? I aspire to take similar photos of some of these (and future) events!

A video from last year’s event:

And here’s a video of Race Director Mark Ersting speaking about this year’s event:

BC Super Week – Bike Race Extravaganza – Coming Up!

You know it never fails to amaze me how selective our lives and consciousness can be.

My recent example… cycling, cycling events and bike races. Had I not signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer ’12, bought a bike and really taken a liking to cycling, I might never have discovered a number of cycling shops dotted around Vancouver (I had no idea there are so many until a few month ago!), or cycling events such as the Cypress Challenge or VanFondo… or (and this is REALLY the most recent)… BC Super Week.

To think that whole teams of cyclists travel to the Lower Mainland and participate in a series of races – in Burnaby, White Rock, Vancouver and Delta… I don’t ever recall seeing anything about this event in the media, on Facebook, Twitter, heard in conversation, nothing.

Have you ever noticed how when you suddenly take an interest in a new hobby, pursuit, endeavour… you seem to learn about almost a whole new universe (of people, places, possibilities, etc) that was there all along… but just wasn’t being picked up and processed by your brain/ senses??

Yes I’m rambling… but I find it so interesting. Makes you wonder what ELSE is out there if only you turn your mind to it!

So what is BC Super Week???

BC Superweek consists of several independent events that happen annually around the second week of July in B.C. With over 5,000 spectators in attendance at each event and over $100,000 in cash prizes for the cyclists who participate to win, this is the cycling event to be at each year! Professional Teams from all over North America travel to B.C. for this event.

This year there is the:

Tour de Delta on July 6 – 8.

UBC Grand Prix on July 10.

Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix on July 11.

Giro di Burnaby on July 12.

Tour de White Rock on July 13 – 15.

The accolade of some past attending riders include, but not limited to the likes of; Tyler Farrar, Chris Horner, Lance Armstrong, Svein Tuft, Brian Walton, Christian Meier and Dominic Rowan on the men’s side and Olympic riders Alison Sydor, Leslie Tomlinson and Erin Willock that have attended the Pro women’s events.

Going to try to attend as many of these as I can!!

5th Annual Cypress Challenge – Saturday 18, 2012

On a scale from 1 to 10… How crazy is it to do a 12km bike ride up a mountain and then fly to Asia on the same day I asked my colleague….

“Ummm…. I wouldn’t do that if I were you…. How long is your flight?? Do you really want to exert yourself that much, and have all that lactic acid built up in your legs when you are forced to sit down for so long?” she replid.

Oh rats… I didn’t think of that. So I guess the answer is 11. Bummer!! 😦

The 5th Annual Cypress Challenge will be held on Sat Aug 18th – and sadly I will have to give it a miss.

Participants will cycle 12km up Cypress Mountain to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Each year the challenge is dedictae to someone who pass passed, or is undergoing treatment for this type of Cancer. This year’s challenge is in memory of Bob Hager.

Who is Bob Hager??

Bob Hager was a prominent Vancouverite who was a driving force in building one of Canada’s most successful asset managers, Philips, Hager & North (PH&N). He was also a generous community contributor, enriching and improving the lives of the many people less fortunate than himself. He was quietly driven, humble and had a never ending dedication to his family, clients and community. Bob died of Pancreatic Cancer in October 2011.

Some info about this Event:

The event was created by Geoffrey and Myriam Glotman in 2008 after they lost Myriam’s mother Betty Ergas to pancreatic cancer. In 2010 the event hosted by Paul Carson, who was being treated for the disease at the time, raised $50,000 for pancreatic cancer research. Paul passed away from the disease in January 2011. In 2011 the event, dedicated to the memory of Jack Poole, raised over $125,000 for pancreatic cancer research.

Some REALLY scary facts about Pancreatic Cancer:

  • Nearly 600 British Columbians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012
  • 75% of patients do not survive a full year post-diagnosis
  • Only 5% survive after five years
  • Across Canada, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths.

Would have SERIOUSLY loved to do this ride but I guess I will have to wait for next year…. Passed it on to my cycling friends in the meantime.

Check out this cool video from last year’s ride: Cypress Challenge 2011

My first Group Ride with Comor Sports Bike Store

Since I am not a solo-cycling fan, ‘Group Rides’ provided by various bike outlets (cafes, groups, associations and stores) are fast becoming a saving grace for me. I cycle,  meet new friends, enjoy the great B.C. outdoors, pick up new cycling technique tips and clear my head after a long day at work…. so much multi-tasking going on and most importantly TIME FLIES because I always have fun.

Last week I went on my first EVER group ride with the  Musette Caffe cyclists. The people I met on that ride really motivated & encouraged me to continue to attend their rides and NOT feel intimidated. It can be quite scary joining a new group ride – (what if they’re too fast? what if I can’t keep up? what if they tackle crazy-steep hills?) but that is how you grow in life! By taking chances, doing stuff that scares you and just going for it!

Yesterday (June 26) I eagerly watched the grey skies and the Comor Sports Facebook Page  throughout the day. Watching for signs of torrential downpours and ride cancellations notices – but the weather decided to give us all a break & the ride was given the green light.

The meet-up location for this group ride is at the Comor Sports  parking lot on Burrard & 4th Avenue.

I have to say – one of the nice things about riding with a bike shop group ride is that if you need to quickly fix anything, buy anything, check anything – you’re covered. Comor Sports is super kitted out with anything you might need – helmets, lights, leg warmers, locks, etc. In my case the helpful staff quickly reattached my monitor to my bike (faulty zap strap) & pumped up my tires! Thanks guys!

One thing I should mention is that Comor were the ones to organize the brilliant VanFondo. Wicked Event!!

I think we were around 10/12 cyclists for this particular ride – in the above image we’re just waiting & getting to know one another in the parking lot. I cycled with Blair and John from Comor Sports – who are so nice and gave me a lot of helpful advice on how to become a better cyclist.

In the above image Blair (L) is giving the group a run through of what we were to work on as we did loops around Stanley Park. During yesterday’s ride, we cycled in pairs and worked on drafting, and taking turns to lead the pack. You can save a lot of energy by drafting – but you need to cycle really close to other cyclists and it really takes some getting used to.

The above image is of Blair (L) and John (R) at the top of Prospect Point – the very tip of Stanley Park that one reaches after a good hill climb. It’s a killer hill for me  – I attempt it on the easiest gear possible. But I see progress already – I don’t need to stop half way through for water anymore. “You destroyed that hill!!” Blair hollered at me as soon as I reached the top! Woo hoo! Hill-climbing satisfaction. 🙂

If you want to join the Comor Sports Group Rides – they meet up every Tuesday at 6:30pm(provided it ain’t pouring!!)… Oh and they also head to a local pub after a ride – so there is the option for some socializing over a cold beer afterwards.


My first Group Ride with Musette Caffe

Part of the reason why I would hate to leave my apartment, beyond the fact that I have an amazing sea view, is because I love having Vancouver ‘s only cycling-themed coffee shop nearby. I’m of course referring to Musette Caffe – located in the alley b/w Burrard & Hornby off of Drake Street.

This cafe opened just a few months ago and I LOVE it! They have great coffee and treats, the place is totally decked out in cycling paraphernalia and they offer me a. great advice about cycling, b. a location to meet & hang out with other cyclists, c. an opportunity to ride on a weekly basis as part of a group.

The last time I swung by for some cycling advice, Thomas (the owner) encouraged me to try out their Group Ride sessions… so today after work I decided to give it a go. 🙂

Since the Ride to Conquer Cancer last weekend, I’ve been eager to get back on my bike, and I am hoping to do A LOT of cycling as the weather warms up. This evening was a fantastic time for a ride – slightly cloudy and balmy. I hardly ever feel warmth in the evening air in Vancouver – it’s one of those sensations I really miss about Malta!!


I was the only girl during this ride, so I was a wee bit nervous that I would be the laggard at the back, holding everyone else back. Well I was… haha But I didn’t feel pressure to keep up , they waited for me at numerous points and they never left me alone. Thomas also gave me a drafting lesson. I’m not too confident with drafting – i.e. when you are riding super close to the rider in front of you to save energy, but I’d like to master it. Practise makes perfect I guess.

We’re so lucky to live and work so close to Stanley Park – the location where we did several laps (Boys did 4 + and I did 3). It’s one of the most beautiful parks in Vancouver and I saw multiple raccoons. A family with 3 baby raccoons and feisty racoon who walked right up to me and stretched out his hands for food. So cute!!! I wish I had a granola bar or something to give him!




Ride to Conquer Cancer Training – Vancouver to White Rock

On Saturday June 2, 2012 my friends and I went for a cycling trip down to White Rock – a city literally a stone’s throw from the US border.

We prayed AND prayed for a clear day all week – and our prayers were answered! Although the skies were heavy with rain when we started – the clouds held out for as long as they could as we escaped Vancouver and Richmond to reach our sunny destination. 🙂

Some facts:

Local pilots refer to White Rocks as ‘the hole in the sky’ – since the city is often bright and sunny while the rest of the Lower Mainland is covered by a thick blanket of grey clouds.

The city is named for a distinctive large white boulder on its beach near the promenade, a glacial erratic that migrated south during the last glaciation. 19th-century sailors used it as a beacon.

One Native Indian legend claims that the gigantic rock marks the landing spot of a stone that was thrown across Georgia Straight  (i.e. the area with the killer whale fin)  by a young Indian chief in order to determine where his bride & he would move from Vancouver Island. Isn’t that cute? I like it!

Below is a play-by-play outline of the route we took…

By the time we reached Delta (which is beautiful BTW)… we felt like this trip was NEVER ENDING!! haha Man is White Rock ever far!

I’d love to explore more of the Southern Lower Mainland… one of my favourite parts of this trip was the Mud Bay area between Delta and White Rock.

That’s Jason panting… he was so tired from keeping us with us girls!!! ;p

There is nothing better than an ice-cold beer after a lonnnnng bike ride!!

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… here’s the video I did about this ride. I was inspired by the vintage 1974 bike ride I had seen earlier that week – so I decided to give this video a vintage-feel. Hope you like it!

VanFondo 2012 & Iona Beach (Richmond) – 90km Training Ride

On Saturday, May 12th, 2012 Comor held the 1st Annual VanFondo. The leisure-style bike ride was a HUGE success with over 1200 cyclists participating in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. The registration fee of $10 went towards this charity (2 thumbs up!)….. so that’s a donation of  $12,000 towards Canuck Place!

According to this Georgia Straight article  “It may have been the largest gathering of cyclists in Vancouver history”. The fact that the weather was just OUTSTANDING surely helped too! 🙂

When I signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012 – my first ever bike ride for charity –  I knew I would be training a lot, but I didn’t anticipate that I’d get to experience another, smaller charity bike ride to serve as a teaser! 🙂

It was a great way to get a feel for what riding in a large group is like. I was so nervous as I was leaving the house – it was my first-ever “on the road” clipless cycling experience. So naturally, I crashed on my left side literally 5 secs after leaving my house. Terrible chain scratches along my ride leg… but I was kinda glad I didn’t wipe out during the actual ride before oncoming traffic!

My guard was definitely up to ensure I rode safely and unclipped well before the red lights!

The route was fantastic and there were a lot of volunteers (and policemen on motorcycles) to ensure we had safe passage through the many intersections.

Some of those hills in Kits really killed me though!

Comor,  a well-known Winter Sports store based in Kits,  recently ventured into the cycling/ bikes business (it seems to be booming in Vancouver) and they launched this new event to raise awareness among the cycling community, rather than spend money on advertising, sales promotions etc. Pretty smart!

When I stepped into the store on the Friday before the event to pick up my event registration pack and I was taken aback by how different the store looked without the racks and racks of ski gear!

The VanFondo 2012 route was circa 45km long – Since Kath and I factored in the extra cycling we did in Vancouver to go to the venue and to go to Kath’s house afterwards before we continued to Richmond – and had a 50km distance stamp on our monitors.

Riding out to Iona beach was lovely – it’s totally level so you can really pick up some speed, and by the time you reach the beach it is just so peaceful and relaxing. For those who don’t know – the long jetty that extends into the water is actually a sewage pipeline… so I’m guessing no one actually swims there, because that thought is kind of gross.

I ended up getting a major sunburn that day – mostly because I was having so much fun and with the breeze whipping on my exposed skin I didn’t realize I was burning up!

The 2013 VanFondo will be held on Saturday, May 11th, 2013. Unless I am out of town – I will definitely be signing up again for this event!!

So here’s my video of the day (check it out for more photos!): 

And here are some more vids – by other people….

An AWESOME video with cool info-graphics (I have to find out how to make those!!): 

A time lapse video of the VanFondo 2012 Route: 

An interview with Comor’s Paul Player: 

A Vancouver Bike Ride in 1974

How cool is this video???!

Look how different Vancouver looks like – almost 40 years ago!

I’ve cycled along some of the same roads/ areas as this cyclist 🙂 I’d love to be able to do a video like this very soon…. and then people 40 years from now could look on amazed at how much Vancouver has changed!

Thanks to VancityBuzz Blog for posting this video – this blog shares some really cool material relevant to Vancouverites!

Vancouver bike lanes set to expand

Vancouver Bike Lanes Set to Expand

Vancouver is fast becoming one of the best cities in thw world to get around on your bike – and I state this from a completely biased POV since I only just started riding a bike and that is within the confines of the Lower Mainland…. yet, it is very encouraging to read news of further bike lanes to use in the near future!

The city is considering turning parts of Commercial Drive, Point Grey Road and Cornwall Avenue into bikeways as part of the next phase of its quest to reduce bicycle-vehicle conflicts.

Obviously –  the idea is meeting mixed reviews ESP with businesses along Commercial Drive who are worried about the potential commercial impacts.

This fall the city also expects to move head with the long-planned Helmcken/Comox bikeway in the West End (my neighbourhood).
I really support additional bike lanes – my friends and I are always selecting these routes to get around as they are way safer, and cycling is becoming more and more popular among Vancouverites.

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