One of the bucket-list bike rides us locals do in Vancouver is road cycling from Vancouver to Whistler. The Sea-to-Sky highway offers both stunning views and a challenging hill climb over ~100 km. I never wanted to do this ride due to anxiety towards both negotiating highway traffic and the long (seemingly steep) descents on the rolling mountain highway. Likewise I started cycling starting over 10 years ago with downhill mountain biking – so I’d much rather comfortable drive my 40-lbs bike to Whistler on a bike rack and then use the gondola to go up and bike down all day, everyday.
Really. I’ve driven the road many times over the past 10 years to go downhill biking. I’ve told Brad that I have absolutely no interest in road cycling along this highway. However, when my office colleagues planned a team-building trip to cycle to Whistler together – my ego (and unwillingness to wimp out) was more powerful than my hesitations.
So I did it yesterday!
To my surprise – in most cases the shoulder was wide enough to be comfortable and I didn’t mind the speed my bike hit on the descents (despite skinny road bike tires). My bike actually hit its top speed of 61 km/hr. Only once I yelled out a startled profanity as a truck surprised me passing really close. I actually really enjoyed the ride and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Both the challenge and the scenery were amazing – I was proven wrong!
The highway from Squamish to Whistler (50 km) is a tough constant climb – especially for a new road cyclist like me. Fortunately I channeled my inner marathon runner and just kept moving forward (a great mantra for endurance distance sports). I appreciated being a realist painter at this point in the bike ride as I could focus on looking at the landscape around me and take mental notes… this distracted me from my cramping quads and sore seat. When you are in a vehicle on the highway, your senses are limited so you do not get to experience the landscape (or truly experience how steep and long the hills are!). The views are even more stunning.
If I was not attempting to get a decent time with the group I was cycling with, I would have strategically paused for more photos. But sometimes it is nice not to have the tools with me to document it – so I can just experience the world around me. It reminds me why I love to paint this beautiful place.