Rider of the Month

November/December 2013 Rider of the Month: Jacynthe

Name: Jacynthe Jagger Lake Koocanusa

Age: 29 (just a few weeks shy of 30!)

Lives in: Calgary, AB

Bio: I was born and raised in Montreal where I’ve been exposed to a multitude of festivals and sporting events from a very young age and have always loved it! I enjoyed being a spectator at all those events but I wasn’t active enough (or so I thought) to participate in them. I became really active when I moved to Vancouver to work on the marketing of the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays. Not only was I inspired by all the athletes who were going to be in Vancouver to compete but my social life became based around being active: meeting friends to run and catch up on the weekend to biking to work with my colleagues.  I participated in my first ever sporting event, the Vancouver Sun Run, and I was hooked! I moved to Calgary just over a year ago. I still work in marketing and sponsorships and am loving the mountains, spending a lot of my weekends hiking and skiing in the Rockies.

Have you participated in a GranFondo Canada event? My first mass cycling event was the 2012 RBC Whistler GranFondo and it was spectacular on so many levels. I also rode in the RBC Banff GranFondo this past summer.

When did you start cycling? I started road cycling just after I finished working at VANOC on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games in May 2010. I had a lot of time on my hands and many friends were avid cyclists so I decided to give it a try. I purchased a bike and got all outfitted without really knowing if I was going to enjoy but it seemed like a good idea. After falling off the bike a few times unable to unclip my shoes, I fell in love with it. Being able to spend a morning riding with friends to Horseshoe Bay, Steveston, Burnaby Hill, Cypress and Squamish stopping for coffees along the way was priceless.

How often do you ride in a week? As soon as the weather permits, which in Calgary unfortunately takes you well into May, I commute to work downtown on my bike which is approximately 30 km return. I live on a hill on the West side of the city so it’s all down hill in the morning which makes for a very easy ride. On the other hand, it’s a challenging ride coming home going uphill all the way but a great workout at the same time. I love biking to work! It wakes me up in the morning and clears my head at night after a long day at work. I’ll also go on long rides a couple of times a week mostly on weekends. I’m still discovering all the beautiful routes that Alberta has to offer but my favourite one is to go from my house to Bragg Creek and back always grabbing a coffee at Cinnamon Spoon where more bikes then cars are always parked outside. As soon as the weather gets colder and the days shorter, I switch to indoor cycling and do a couple of spin classes a week. It’s not nearly as fun as being outside but it keeps me active and it’s a quick and effective workout.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? My most memorable cycling moment is just after crossing the finish line of the RBC Whistler GranFondo. It was a perfect day for the ride and I had spent it with five awesome girlfriends. We had a ton of fun riding the Sea-to-Sky highway but it only got better from there. My boyfriend who was living in Calgary at the time surprised me at the finish line. I didn’t expect him to be there so was thrilled that he had been able to make the trip last minute. He tricked me into leaving the celebration area to go for a massage at the Four Seasons but he had actually arranged for a private area on the patio where he proposed! Still in my biking gear with my finisher medal around my neck, I said yes! We celebrated for the rest of the weekend in Whistler with all our friends and family who had also participated in the ride.

What is your cycling goal for 2014? I would like to do some cyclo-tourism this summer. I haven’t decided where but I like the idea of combining travelling and cycling. I’ll have to train for longer rides and get used to sitting on a saddle for a few days!

Any training tips you would like to share? Enjoy the scenery while you bike. I see too many people being competitive and wanting to finish a ride in a “good time” versus actually having a “good time” on the road. We are so lucky to live in a country that offers amazing scenery that it’s a shame to only look at the tire in front of you.

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October 2013 Rider of the Month: Christie

Name: Christie FosterChristieFoster

Age: 48

Lives in: Vancouver BC

Bio: I was born and raised on Vancouver Island and, after living in separate cities for three years, I moved to Vancouver a year ago to be with my wife. (Although I still miss the island, it was worth the move!) I spent 18 years working in law enforcement before becoming a Business Analyst.

I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember. I played competitive soccer and baseball for several decades and was also a bodybuilder for several years. As a practicing Buddhist, I find biking very meditative and much more peaceful than sliding into home plate!

Have you participated in GranFondo Canada event? The 2013 Whistler GranFondo was my first one, and it was AWESOME!

When did you start cycling? I think I came out of the womb on a bike! Ok, maybe not but I have been on a bike since I could walk. I’ve been a bike commuter throughout my career but it was never my primary sport until repeated knee injuries and arthritis eliminated baseball and soccer from my life. Giving up these things after 30 years was devastating for me. I’ve had a total of 11 knee surgeries over the last 10 years and found myself being able to do less and less. It was strange to have to redefine myself. If I couldn’t play sports, who was I? Biking has made me feel like an athlete again. I bought my first “real” road bike in July of 2013. Her name is Bluey and I love her.

How often do you ride in a week? Prior to preparing for the GranFondo I made a daily commute of 24 km plus some weekend pleasure riding. While preparing for the GranFondo I increased by adding two evenings a week doing laps around UBC and Stanley Park and additionally doing a hard 75 to 100 km ride on the weekend. I’m fortunate living in Vancouver as there are a lot of great mountains to climb and endless ways to vary your route.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? I hate to sound cliché but it was crossing the finish line at the GranFondo. I was so overcome by emotion! Riding the Whistler GranFondo had been a goal for 3 years that had been hampered by my multiple knee surgeries. Crossing that finish line helped me to believe that anything is possible.

What is your cycling goal for 2014? The Whistler GranFondo was my goal for 2013, but I have my sights on GranFondo Banff or Niagara for 2014.

Any training tips you would like to share? Believe in yourself! If you believe in yourself then truly anything is possible.

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September 2013 Rider of the Month: Kathryn

September’s Rider of the Month is Kathryn Rae, an athlete who started cycling just over a year ago. This is how she went from buying her first road bike to finishing the inaugural GranFondo Niagara Falls. Kathryn Rae

Name: Kathryn Rae

Age: 52

Lives in: Newmarket, Ontario  yes….a very short cycling season!

Bio: I am Controller for the Canadian operation of a Swiss based company.  I have four wonderful grown children, 3 sons and a daughter.  I am an avid runner, running for over 30 years.  Over the years I have participated in 4 marathons, many, many 10km races, several triathlons and this year my first Olympic duathlon and my very first GranFondo. I attend regular Crossfit training sessions to strengthen my core and keep me strong.  I am a bit of an exercise fanatic!  My children do think I am a bit nuts!

Have you participated in a GranFondo? Yes!!!  I rode in the inaugural GranFondo in Niagara Falls on September 14.

When did you start cycling? I have been cycling for just over a year.  I bought my first road bike in July 2012.  I had to find something else to cross train with due to a nagging overuse running injury. I was doing a bit of riding with a hybrid when I was totally challenged and intrigued while following a friend on a road bike.  I couldn’t believe that a “road” bike could go so much faster than a “hybrid”.  I had to see for myself.  A week after purchasing my bike I took an all women clinic in Blue Mountain, hosted by Pedal Pushers.  Running shoes… no proper clothing (shorts)…nervous….but I made it up the mountain first and was last coming down!!!!  Clearly I had a few more challenges to overcome!

How often do you ride in a week? During the short Ontario season I will ride 3 or 4 times a week.. Long weekend rides by myself, with a friend or with the Newmarket Eagles.

What was your most memorable cycling moment?  Without question it was the whole GranFondo Niagara experience. .  I signed up for the Alta Classe division which was such a treat.   The pre-ride in May…cool cloudy day was just around 80km.  Spring of 2013 in Ontario was awful.  I had done very little riding.  I didn’t know a soul, had never ridden more that 50km.  Met a wonderful couple, Nancy and Gerry who took me under their wing for the ride… They talked me into doing the longer ride.  Then the actual ride….starting off in the dark with friends, Janis and Lana…, the cheers from the spectators, the uphills, (love to ride uphill!), meeting people, the spectacular scenery, no cars, and crossing the finish line.  It was so perfect.  I had a fabulous ride and a great time.  I felt fantastic!  I had trained well.

What is your cycling goal for 2013? My initial goal as the season was starting was to get/feel more comfortable on my bike.  Downhills were a challenge in my first season and riding in groups takes practice.  I wanted to try a duathlon which would pair my running and my new cycling.  My biggest goal came in late spring when I signed up for the GranFondo Niagara….wow 125kms.  This was going to be a challenge.  I had barely ridden 50 km in one ride in my first season which was really only half a season.  I met all my goals and then some.  Although I still need practice on those fast downhills…

Any training tips you would like to share?  I am not an experienced enough cyclist to give any training tips but as an accomplished athlete I would like to say cycling is a fabulous challenging sport.  You get to enjoy the outdoors, you get to meet new people and you get in great shape…  Learn from others, ask questions, join a cycling club, participate in organized rides.  Organized rides are great because you try a new route.  Strength training will help your cycling.  You just have to take the “first pedal”.    Cycling offers endless challenges like distance or time, if you want them or there is nothing like riding early on a summer morning as the sun is rising.  🙂

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August 2013 Rider of the Month: Andrea

Get to know Andrea, the female overall winner of the 2013 RBC GranFondo Banff.

Name: Andrea BundonAndrea Bundon

Age: 31

Lives in: Vancouver

Bio: I moved to Vancouver from Saskatchewan to pursue a graduate degree in sport sociology at the University of British Columbia… and Vancouver was also the only city I knew of where I could row and ski in the same day! I row for the UBC women’s varsity team and I’m also a cross-country skier with the Nordic Racers Ski club and a volunteer with their para-nordic ski program.

Have you participated in a gran fondo? I’ve ridden the Whistler Gran Fondo twice and last year I rode the inaugural Banff Gran Fondo

When did you start cycling? 4 years ago – I was looking for some way of cross training for rowing and I loved the social aspect of riding (and that cyclists always know where to find the best coffee).

How often do you ride in a week? I’m very inconsistent – most weeks I ride 2-3 times but I’m also a competitive rower so there are weeks that rowing takes precedence and I don’t ride at all… but I make up for it by riding nearly every day once the rowing season is done and most of my holidays include my bike.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? Riding the Banff Gran Fondo last year was a big highlight for me. I just felt ‘on’ from the moment the gun went off. I think my goal was to try and average 30km/h but I got in with a group and we averaged 39km/h and it felt effortless. Plus every time we came around a corner and saw a new mountainscape the whole peleton would just go ‘ahhhh’ – I ride the Rockies all the time but I loved seeing other rider’s reactions – it’s just too beautiful.

What is your cycling goal for 2013? Most of my goals this year are skills-based. Last year my goal was to get comfortable riding in large groups and I did that. Now I’m trying to learn a bit about strategies and how to work with other riders.

Any training tips you would like to share? Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to put in a lot of hours training – just make the hours you do ride count. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that quality counts more than quantity. Have a plan and a goal for every workout – what are you going to improve upon today?

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July 2013 Rider of the Month: Debra

Meet Debra MacArthur, who will tell you cycling has changed her life.

Granfondo715409-4085-0012s_edited-1Name: Debra MacArthur

Age: 59

Lives in: Whistler, BC

Bio: Originally from London Ontario, Debra moved to Prince Rupert, BC in 1976. After a long career as a Health Care executive, Debra’s current profession is Landscape Painting.

When did you start cycling? During Christmas of 2010, my sister and I registered our husbands in the 2011 RBC GranFondo Whistler. By mid day (and possibly after several glasses of Christmas champagne… my nieces had shamed us into joining our husbands on this adventure and we registered for the ride as well. Neither of us had done any cycling . What started out as a bit of a lark resulted in a short lasted bit of regret and apprehension. This was quickly followed by the realization that we had a bit of work ahead of us – not to mention figuring out what we were going to ride (since none of us had bikes).

My sister lives in London Ontario and I live in Whistler so we realized that we had to find training buddies of our own. She decided she was going to work with her husband (who is an avid biker). My husband is in Vancouver most of the time so I needed to find a Whistler buddy. So… I called upon a close friend – a very focused, energetic, athletic and motivated friend… who had also never ridden and also did not own a bike. She is always up to a challenge and as it turned out, her husband had already registered for the Fondo.

What started on December 25th as a Christmas gift for our husbands resulted in three, “past middle age”, non biking ladies, deciding to take on the challenge of riding a bike from Vancouver to Whistler.

Reality subsequently hit us as did visits to the gym, a personal trainer, stationary biking and spin classes. I might point out that neither Whistler nor Southern Ontario in January are not the best places to start prepping for the first ride of your life!

Then in early Spring we each respectively purchased our road bikes, named our bikes (seemed like the appropriate thing to do ) and started looking forward to nice weather and a chance to try biking out for real!!

What was your most memorable cycling moment? Two things come to mind:

First clip crash, second clip crash, third clip crash… then deciding clips were not for me!

The 2011 Gran Fondo on Saturday, September 10th, 2011

The 2011 Vancouver to Whistler Gran Fondo was a milestone for me. Preparing for the ride was huge. Completing the ride was astonishing.

I am not a svelte, fit, thirty-something. And I (someone who does not tolerate heat), was doing this ride on a day that averaged 25 ‘ C. However, I was not about to give up – regardless of what was ahead of me.

At Squamish, I started to ask myself “what was I thinking” but by the time I hit the rest stop in the Canyon, I was feeling like I was on my way home. My recollection at that stop was the volunteers encouraging me and others to wait there for the shuttle which would take us the rest of the way into Whistler. My husband Barrie was riding with me and my comment to him was that I was going to continue and that he should carry on at his own pace – that I would be ok. He refused.

We knew we were struggling with the time – all of us as riders knew that the expectations were to complete the ride within a certain window. Knowing things were winding down, my husband rode ahead to be sure that he could get water for us before they packed up the last rest stop at Brandywine. By this time, I might point out that riders were few and far between.

At Brandywine they were starting to pack up – the volunteers and staff were quite certain that it would be best for those of us who were still on the course, to call it an experience and wait for that last shuttle which would be coming soon. It was late in the ride and they were packing up the water, supplies and the road maintenance team was getting ready to collect the cones and open up the highway to traffic. My recollection there is saying “fill me up and hose me down”. Water was very memorable at that point!!

According to my Garmin, temperatures that day hit a high of 39 C (7.5 hrs after my start) at the bottom of Powerline Hill. Powerline Hill has lots of meaning to Whistler locals – because of the winter driving years ago before the highway was improved. However, for me, Powerline now represents the last big grind riding into Whistler. Apparently ambulance services agreed, as they waited at the base of the hill until I made it to the top. Only then did they drive off with a smile, a “good luck” and a wave. And an assurance from me that I was fine. I knew the road, had my husband beside me, had a phone, had lots of friends in Whistler who were happy to come and save me if necessary. Last but not least, I knew that if worse came to worse I would wait on the side of the road until the sun got low and the temperatures subsided. Turns out I did not need to do that!

The final challenge was the opening back up of the highway however the Miller Capilano Highway crew were not hasty in opening it up while I was still riding. They followed along side, encouraging me, rooting for me, and acting as my “pilot” vehicle accompanying me into Creekside at which time the RCMP officer – still at the intersection – gave me a wave.

Arriving at the entrance to the town center in Whistler was an amazing feeling. I was exhausted… totally spent… and apparently quite emotional as my eyes filled up and tears started to roll down my face. I have never had such an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Together my husband and I rode into the village to the finish line. He stuck with me for the duration. For the other riders, the ride was long over. Most everyone was gone. Packing up was under way. My claim to fame with friends and family is that I rode the Fondo and came dead last!

When the times were posted, I was listed as DNF…. Did not finish. However I am quick to tell my friends that I was not DNF. I was AFD … All flippin day!!
Even today I cannot believe that I actually rode my bike from Vancouver to Whistler.

How often do you ride in a week? For each of us riding has taken us on a different journey.

For me riding is an activity that I am now able to enjoy on a regular basis. I love it for fresh air, for sightseeing, for transportation, and for exercise. It is a lifestyle and leisure activity. It is not about racing or competing. It is not about riding huge distances or challenging myself. I enjoy it with friends and family. It has opened the door to bike holidays – most recently a week riding holiday in Italy. I use my bike for exercise, to ride to the store, and to ride around Whistler in the summer and my desert town in the winter. Most importantly, it is something that I thoroughly enjoy, and anticipate being able to enjoy for many more years, regardless of my age and stage in life.

For my younger sister Dawn, she has a new passion which she shares with her husband Scott. Riding for her has resulted in a shared interest with her husband, some fabulous biking holidays riding in the Maritimes, Napa, and soon Greece. More importantly, together they have been VERY successful raising and donating over $ 25,000 to Cancer, MS and Depression.

For my friend Ginny – it has been a life changer. Like Dawn and I, she has enjoyed riding with her husband and friends as a new found interest. She has enjoyed some fabulous bike holidays but as I write this, she and her husband have just passed the 5,000 km mark as they ride their bikes across Canada raising money for their Foundation – the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation. A foundation which was established in memory of their son, Kelty who committed suicide while suffering from teenage depression. For them, their ride is all about raising money for the development of a Kelty Mental Health Resource Center in every Province and territory in Canada. To date – after reaching Toronto – they have have raised over $640,000.

There you have it – 3 women, 3 journeys, 3 lives changed since hearing about and riding in the 2011 GranFondo Whistler.

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June 2013 Rider of the Month: Georgia

Our featured rider for the month of June is a Canadian Olympian Georgia Simmerling.

imageName: Georgia Simmerling

Age: 24

Lives in: West Vancouver, BC

Bio: Georgia grew up ski racing and at the young age of 21, represented Canada in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Alpine skiing. A year later, she switched to the world of Ski Cross for a new and exciting challenge, earning a spot on the national team within six months. She spent the 2012/13 season competing on the World Cup Ski Cross circuit and 2013 World Championships. Before leaving home for the winter, Georgia rode the RBC GranFondo Whistler. She was the 76th female across the finish line with a time of 4 hours and 38 seconds and was the 9th fastest female up the Furry Creek Hill Climb!

Her sights are now firmly set on bringing home a gold medal for Canada in the next Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Georgia incorporates mountain and road biking into her training schedule.

When did you start cycling? I started cycling a lot when I was young. 13 or so is when I started riding a lot with skiing. I remember doing a cycling trip with the BC Ski Team from the Ferry terminal in Nanaimo all the way to Hornby Island. It was a dryland camp for skiing. My coaches were in a 16 passenger van honking and yelling at my teammates who weren’t riding fast enough to catch the next ferry. That was my first real experience at intense lactic acid build up leg burning blood taste in the back of your throat training.

How often do you ride in a week? Every single day after a hard day of training or racing I am on a spin bike flushing out the lactic acid that’s built up in my legs. I now have a new road bike and will probably be getting outside more with some group rides during the summer. I’m loving it.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? Hands down my most memorable cycling moment was the Fondo last September. I had never taken part in such a grand event. (Excuse the pun) From starting on an entirely blocked off Georgia st. in the darkness with the thousands of other riders, riding over the Lion’s Gate Bridge to the sun rising right in front of our eyes (I still don’t know how that was timed so perfectly) to meeting so many amazing people throughout the ride and experiencing teamwork like I’ve never seen before, the entire experience honestly blew my mind. I have so many fond memories from the trip! (Ok, I’ll admit it, I really like puns.)

What is your cycling goal for 2013? My goal for 2013 is to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Cycling will be a part in that. I am an extremely focused athlete prepared to reach my goals of representing my country in February in Russia and bringing back a medal!

Any training tips you would like to share? Get outside and go play! Look where we live! This city, this province, is so unbelievably gorgeous, it’s a playground for all of us. I hear it over and over, we get stuck in ruts and stop exercising because we’re so busy with the rest of our life. Right? We start to feel gross and our bodies start changing. As hard as it may be, you have to continue to exercise! When our lives get busy with everything we have going on in our lives, exercising is extremely important to continue – especially during those hard times! Not only will you look good, you will feel good too. Keep it up, keep it going, and get outside!

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May 2013 Rider of the Month: Barb

Our featured rider for the month of May is Ironman finisher Barb Guembel.

843804_10200339073575025_1678505395_oName: Barb Guembel

Age: 30

Lives in: Niagara, ON

Bio:Barb, has a Masters Degree in Applied Health Sciences (Brock University) specializing in leisure programming and how it affects overall health and social capital. She is an avid rower and has extensive experience racing mountain bikes, running marathons and half-marathons, as well as Ironman triathlon. She brings a tremendous skill set to the development of programs, products and services related to well being and active living. Currently Barb and her husband Wolfgang are Co-Owners of Trysport Niagara & Aktiv (swim-bike-run-yoga shop) in Welland, Ontario.

Have you participated in GranFondo Canada event? No I have not, but I am looking forward to taking part in the GranFondo Niagara Falls

When did you start cycling?  I started cycling in grade 9 as a way of getting to rowing practice. Over the years cycling has become part of my active lifestyle. I went from commuting to mountain biking to road riding and time trial racing at Ironman events.

How often do you ride in a week? I ride 2-3 times per week and commute on my bike to work as much as I can.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? Commuting to work with Wolfgang (my husband) and Pepper (our Chiwinee) along the Welland Canal.

What is your cycling goal for 2013? I am registered for IM Mont Tramblant and hope to improve my time in the cycling component of the race.

Any training tips you would like to share? Don’t wait until you feel like you are good enough to join a local cycling or triathlon club, if you join you will develop your skills/fitness much quicker and have fun with like minded people! When you can afford it, invest in a power meter; it will greatly increase your training success. Training with power will help you achieve your cycling goals.

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April 2013 Rider of the Month: Ali

Our featured rider for the month of April is Ali Zentner, who rode in the second annual RBC GranFondo Whistler!

Ali Zentner

Name: Ali Zentner

Age: 42 and I’m really okay with it.

Lives in: Downtown Vancouver, BC

When did you start cycling? When I was 6 years old my Dad bought me my first bike. It had a banana seat and big handlebars and that really cool nail-polish like finish that made it seem like it sparkled all the time. She was red and her name was Lucy. Every bike I have owned since has had to measure up.

How often do you ride in a week? I ride pretty much every day. Four years ago we got rid of our car and I now use my bike to get anywhere. My office is in West Vancouver so I ride there and back with a loop or two through the park when the weather is nice. After all this time I must admit that I have a special attachment to the Lion’s Gate Bridge. The thing about cycling is that it really is a connection to that kid inside us all. Think about it – our bikes were our real first set of wheels – they were our first sense of freedom and of independence. For me – that feeling has never changed. My bike is still my only set of wheels and my real sense of freedom. There I am cycling over the bridge and I don’t have to worry about the traffic or the time. It’s just me and my bike and I can let the day and the worries fall away.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? In August of 2011, I cycled across Canada with Cycle for What Matters, raising money and awareness for the Canadian Diabetes Association. We did in it a relay with a team over a period of 4 weeks. My goal for the ride was to cycle at least 100km a day every day. At the end of 23 days I had cycled a total of 2408km. It really was one hell of a ride. I felt a connection to this country that I had never had before. I felt a connection to riding that was unparalleled. When it was all over we flew home on a Monday and then rode in RBC GranFondo Whistler on the Saturday. Even though I was pretty tired from a month of riding I still loved every crazy minute.

What is your cycling goal for 2013? I’m currently training for a Half Iron Man. I’ve done the Kelowna and Whistler Fondos and would love to do another. For me it’s always important to have a goal to train for. It keeps me riding even on the rainy days.

Any training tips you would like to share? Love the ride. Yes, sometimes it’s about the speed and the distance and sometimes you have a certain time to beat. But ultimately once in a while pause in the middle of a pedal and celebrate the fact that this is what your body can do. You, on a bike with the wind in your face… it does not get any better.

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March 2013 Rider of the Month: Joey-Lee

Our featured rider for the month of March is Joey-Lee Kennedy, who selflessly helps the RBC GranFondo Whistler run smoothly with her Strada Cycles team.
Joey Lee

Name: Joey-Lee Kennedy

Age: 31

Lives in: Vancouver, BC

Bio: I moved to Vancouver eight years ago from Kitchener Ontario. I completed my B.A. and B. Ed at SFU intending to become an elementary school teacher and now I am a bike shop owner with my husband Jason!

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events: I have not but I’m pretty sure this will be the year.  Two years ago the shop provided mechanic support for the event and last year we hosted a post GranFondo Assos/Strada Cycles party.   So the GranFondo has been part of my last 2 summers, just not on a bike.

When did you start cycling? I got my first real road bike about 4 years ago, but I have been taking it much more seriously since opening Strada 2 years ago.

How often do you ride in a week? During the winter, I really try for twice a week, but a lot of the time the weather only allows for once. Spring summer I usually get out at least 3 – 4 times a week.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? The day I decided to stop getting mad that all the guys were so much faster than me and use that anger as motivation to get stronger and faster.

What is your cycling goal for 2013? I would really love to ride the GranFondo with a group of girls and finish around the 4 hour mark…I have a lot of training to do!

Any training tips you would like to share? Have a personal goal in mind for each ride. Whether it’s going for QOM or a personal best on a Strava segment or leaving your Garmin at home that day and just enjoying being outside, just have something that you want to accomplish every time you get out.

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February 2013 Rider of the Month: Valerie

Our featured rider for the month of February is Valerie Quintal, who rode in the inaugural RBC GranFondo Banff in 2012.

Valerie Quintal  (1)-tifName: Valerie Quintal

Age: 28

Lives in: Calgary, AB

Bio: Born and raised in Dalhousie, New-Brunswick. Moved to Calgary in 2011 and am working as a litigation lawyer with Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer LLP. With the Rockies close by, I usually find myself spending as much time outdoors as I can fit in my schedule.

When did you start cycling? Tricycle at age 5 – I was awesome. After signing up for the GranFondo Banff with the BD&P team, I bought a road bike and started training – that was in April 2012, 4 months before the ride.Years participated in GranFondo Canada events: First year was 2012 but plan to sign up again this year!

How often do you ride in a week? In the summer, 2-3 times. In winter, I switch to yoga and class cardio workouts, and spin once a week.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? I sure remember the first time I fell off my bike after getting clipless pedals. Some of my greatest cycling moments include riding in the foothills in the early evening, meeting amazing people and sharing cycling stories over a beer after a long group ride.

What is your cycling goal for 2013? Cycle the Highwood Pass, log 800 km on my bike and participate again in the GranFondo Banff!

Any training tips you would like to share? Baby steps. You will always come across someone who is way faster or better than you, no matter what skill level you are at. If you have the patience to recognize your own skill level and stick to programs that work for you, your ability to catch up to those riders will increase exponentially.

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January 2013 Rider of the Month: Sam

Kicking off the new year, our featured rider for January is Sam Kuchmak, who rode in the third annual RBC GranFondo Whistler!

Kuchmak Biking 1 (1)Name: Sam Kuchmak

Age: 29

Lives in: Vancouver, BC

Bio: I am the Social Compliance Analyst at Mountain Equipment Coop. I have the best job in the world as I get to work with fantastic people and get to travel around the world. Originally from Ontario, I moved out west after university to become a ski bum in Whistler. After a couple of years, I decided to make a move to the city and settled in my new home of Vancouver.  I am inspired daily by Vancouver’s natural environment and by my colleagues to get outside and be active.

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events: The 2012 RBC GranFondo Whistler was my first event.

When did you start cycling? I bought my first road bike (a vintage Bianchi, which I love) when I first moved to Vancouver in 2008.  Shortly after starting at MEC, I was asked if I’d be interested in riding in GranFondo Whistler. I am a do’er and love a challenge so I quickly said “yes” and went out and bought a carbon roadie from MEC in March of 2012.

How often do you ride in a week? While training for GranFondo Whistler this summer, I was out three to four times a week. Now I commute by bike about two times a week and spin once a week.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? More than 50 employees from MEC signed up for GranFondo Whistler. As a result, there were always keeners ready to ride. I organized lunch rides that drew about 20 or so riders each week. The week before the GranFondo I announced one more lunch ride just to encourage people to get their legs spinning. Everyone was pumped because we had recently received our MEC team kits! What I thought was going to be a leisurely ride, turned a bit tougher as a couple of the Elite class riders from the head office joined us. It was a fun challenge to keep up to their ‘steady’ pace (which for my little legs was quick!). Everyone’s energy was great and we had an amazing ride.

What is your cycling goal for 2013? I have two: (1) Beat my time in GranFondo Whistler; and (2) Complete an Olympic distance tri at UBC.

Any training tips you would like to share? Get out and keep active with your friends!  Having another colleague at work to train with the whole summer for the GranFondo was key.

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December 2012 Riders of the Month: Ellen & Heather

Our featured riders for December are Founding Riders Ellen Muirhead & Heather Korsa who rode in the inaugural RBC GranFondo Whistler – on mountain bikes!

Names: Ellen Muirhead & Heather Korsa

img156Lives in: North Vancouver, BC

BioEllen: I am married and have 4 children who are now wonderful young adults. For the past nine years I have been a preschool teacher at Mt. Seymour Preschool. I love my job. Every day is different!

Heather: I work as a teacher at an alternative school in North Vancouver with primary aged children. I have worked at this school for over 10 years and I love how different every day is and to be involved in the lives of so many wonderful families.

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events:

Ellen: 2 years. I rode in the inaugural RBC GranFondo Whistler and the inaugural RBC GranFondo Kelowna in 2011. I love to challenge myself with long distance riding. My finishing time isn’t important, just being out there and finishing is my goal!  “On your left” is something I hear a lot of when riding! I rode with my husband and good friends. At that time I rode a Cannondale Touring Bike. We had hoped to participate in a different GranFondo each year, but unfortunately life happens and I didn’t do one this year. There’s always next year.

Heather: I participated in the inaugural RBC GranFondo Whistler in 2010 and then in the inaugural RBC GranFondo Kelowna the following year (both with my great friend and riding buddy, Ellen). I think we might have been last, or near last in both events, but we made it on our heavy bikes.  I road my good old Rocky Mountain Soul, mountain bike. (I do own a road bike now, and I love it!)

When did you start cycling?

Ellen: To celebrate my 40th birthday, I cycled with six women from Vancouver to San Francisco. I rode a Kona Mountain Bike. We took turns driving our support car, so we didn’t have to carry our gear and we camped our way down the coast. Since then I have embraced the freedom and adventure riding creates and have been on several long distance cycling trips. It’s a great way to travel.

Heather: I’ve cycled all my life. I started on my sister’s old hand-me-down three-speed bike. I always wanted a horse, but could never own one, so I pretended my bike was my horse and I’d ride out over the fields! (I grew up in Calgary). I love to ride; it always gives me a freedom feeling. I like long slow distance rides, I’ve never been one for speed; I just enjoy the ride! I hope I can keep riding into my 90’s.

How often do you ride in a week?

Ellen: When I’m training for an event or a trip I usually ride a couple of times during the week and then go for a longer ride on the weekend.

Heather: In the spring, summer and early fall, I ride 2-4 times a week, but I only go out in good weather during the winter.

What was your most memorable cycling moment?

Ellen: In 1999, I was walking across a road and I was hit by a car.  I had a tibia-plateau fracture and it took many months to heal.  At times I wondered if I would be able to ride again.  I’ll never forget crossing the finish line on my bike after riding The Trek Ride for the B.C. Lung Association 10 months after my accident.

Heather: I have many memorable moments, but the best was when 30 Team Finn riders crossed the Finn-ish line, in one long line of beautiful pink, the first year of the Ride to Conquer Cancer. I loved the ride to Whistler that first year too, crossing over the Lions Gate Bridge, taking up the whole road very early in the morning! That was so beautiful.

What was your cycling goal for 2012?

Ellen: To cycle the Ride to Conquer Cancer for Team Finn with my daughter Megan and my husband Peter.

Heather: To train for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and ride enough so I could enjoy every moment of the ride. To get out for one long ride every weekend, (50-100 km).

Any training tips you would like to share?

Ellen: 
I’ve learned that riding a road bike on long rides (I purchased one last year) actually does make a difference, especially going up hill! Also, it’s important to know how to change a flat!

Heather
: Find a group of great people to ride with and train with. It makes all the difference in the world. Some of my greatest moments are the great training rides we have done together, exploring all the wonderful rides there are in and around Vancouver.

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November 2012 Rider of the Month: Su Ning

Our featured rider for November is Su Ning Strube, who rode in the inaugural RBC GranFondo Banff this year.

Name: Su Ning Strube

Age: 37

Lives in: Vancouver, BC

Bio: I am a technology executive at HootSuite, am married with a lovely 3 year old son and have another one on the way. I’m also a former (recovering?) Canadian National Ultimate Frisbee Team player, and lover of dim sum.

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events: Two years.

When did you start cycling? My husband assembled my first bike in a small town in Tuscany in 2005. We rode 50 kms that day and I remember thinking ‘hey, this is pretty fun’. I obviously didn’t know the lore of cycling in Italy but it set a pretty high bar!

How often do you ride in a week? I commute by bike so I get to ride a bit every day. In the summer it’s two to three times a week with my team, and in the winter it’s a weekend ride and at least once a week on the trainer.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? That’s an easy one. We did a family trip to Banff for the inaugural RBC GranFondo Banff, combined with a family vacation. My parents flew out from Ontario to join our family. My mom and I went out on the Friday night to a performance at the Banff Centre and my dad dropped us off. He then drove back to our hotel and proceeded to drive the car into the underground parking with my bike on the roof!  It was totalled – as was the Thule rack and the car! Fortunately we were staying in the same hotel as the (nice) folks from Cervélo and they found a demo bike for me to ride at 9 pm so that I could do the gran fondo the next morning.  There is good in all this. I liked the bike so much I went out and bought one when we came back to Vancouver!

What was your cycling goal for 2012? I’m going to ride as much as I can before the new baby arrives in the spring. Riding will help me get back into shape and I’d love to do the new Niagara event next year with some friends, and maybe do the RBC  Granfondo Whistler again with my husband.

Any training tips you would like to share?  Don’t let your dad drive your car into an underground parking lot with your bike on the roof unless you need a new ride. Oh, and just get out there and ride.

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October 2012 Rider of the Month: Richele

Our featured rider for October is Richele Frank, who came in 2nd place in the 2012 RBC GranFondo Kelowna.

Name: Richele Frank

Age: 37

Lives in: Vancouver, BC

Bio: I am an accountant with a triathlon problem! I live in Kitsilano with my dog Bogey, and have an incredible career as a tax advisor in downtown Vancouver. I completed my first triathlon in 2009, and am currently focused on long-distance triathlon events (half and full IM distance).  I am admittedly a bit of a cupcake fanatic and love any ride that starts/ includes/ ends with treats!

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events: 3.  I rode the inaugural RBC GranFondo Whistler in 2010 (just two weeks after completing my first Ironman distance triathlon), and rode the RBC GranFondo Kelowna in both 2011 and 2012.  I came in second in Kelowna this year by 4/10ths of a second (yes, really!).

When did you start cycling?   When I was twelve, I saved my allowance for a really cool eggshell blue SuperCycle ten-speed from Canadian Tire.  Unfortunately, cycling did not really stick with me and I did not return to riding until I was 34.  Learning to really ride (and by that I mean learning basic bike maintenance, group riding skills and handling – not just getting on a bike!) as a thirtysomething has been a humbling but incredibly worthwhile experience.

How often do you ride in a week? It depends on the season!  During off-season (the winter months), I tend to put more time on the bike trainer because it is safe, dry and warm.  However, when I am training for a race and during the summer months, I definitely log more time in the saddle outdoors.  During one of my peak “bike focus” weeks this September, I put in just under 17 hours on my bike.  Yes, in a week!

What was your most memorable cycling moment? In March, I did a fundraiser for the Ride to Conquer Cancer that entailed riding 10 times around Stanley Park before 10am, for a donation of $10.  The “10 before 10”, as it is known, is a ride that my local bike shop has done for years (I cannot take credit for dreaming up this wicked ride), and it is really quite fun notwithstanding the 10 trips up prospect point hill!  Being late March, the weather was a tad on the chilly side and I was quite concerned about low turnout at 6:30am, in temperatures hovering just above zero.   Imagine my surprise and delight when I arrived in Stanley Park, pitch dark, to an incredible show of support!  The start of the ride left an indelible impression with me – the pace line was marked by dozens of blinking bike lights and as we rounded the park for the first lap, dawn had just started to break into a stunning, sunny Vancouver morning.   It was truly an extraordinary moment to experience the calm beauty of the sunrise alongside the camaraderie and friendship that I now associate with riding.  There is simply no better place to be on a Saturday morning than riding with friends.

What was your cycling goal for 2012? My main goal for 2012 was to stay focused through a long season of training and ride strong at my goal race for the year, the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 13, 2012.  The ride is 180 kilometers through a lava field – preceded by a 3.8 kilometer ocean swim, and followed by a marathon.

Unfortunately, I got ill about a week before the race and started with a cough and cold.  So while I am disappointed not to have raced at 100%, I had faith in my training and had a really decent ride in seriously tough conditions (heat, wind and humidity!). I felt confident handling my bike in the winds, and I knew to ride my own race and stay within myself.
Finishing 21st in my age group against the toughest and fastest athletes in the world, and in the top 100 women (including pros) in the world is an honour. Racing Kona is just an incredible experience from start to finish.


Any training tips you would like to share?
  Train because you love it – good days, bad days, rainy days, all of it!  Find a goal that you feel passionate about, and it will make training a positive focus in your life.  Whether it is a charity ride, your first triathlon or learning how to ride with a group – it is a lot easier to stay committed when you have a dream to pursue.  Oh…and be safe out there!

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September 2012 Rider of the Month: Nicole

Our featured rider for September is Nicole van Zanten who just completed her first GranFondo!

Name: Nicole van Zanten

Age: 22

Lives in: Vancouver, BC

Bio: I work with the Vancouver Canucks doing Social & Digital Media while living in beautiful downtown Vancouver. I’m also the proud dog-owner of a furry Maltese, “Max”.

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events: The 2012 RBC GranFondo Whistler was my first gran fondo! I have also registered for two half-marathons.

When did you start cycling? In the past, I have really only considered myself to be a runner; however, after taking spin classes for the past few years at my gym (and loving it), I decided to take the plunge and purchase a road bike. Right then and there, I knew I was hooked. Long story short? I’ve been a cyclist for just under one year.

How often do you ride in a week? With the rainy Vancouver weather we have, I like to switch up my training from indoors to outdoors and back again. As part of the RBC GranFondo Whistler training, I was on the bike 3-4 times per week with cross-training every other day. I still try to get outdoors for my rides 2-3 times per week.

What was your most memorable cycling moment? In order to fit training into my schedule, I either had to wake up early or hit the gym late. One early morning when I hit the pavement at 5AM, I was cursing the alarm; who doesn’t love a few more minutes of sleep? My route took me down to Richmond and back up Marine Drive to UBC, into Kitsilano and finishing Downtown. As I was riding on Point Grey Road, the sun was rising, the beach was virtually empty and the ocean looked magical. It’s one of those moments when you’re able to take in Vancouver at her best. I’m sure I’ll have many memorable cycling moments as I race other events, but this one took my breath away.

What was your cycling goal for 2012? I followed the RBC GranFondo Whistler training schedule and aimed to finish between 5-6 hour range. I can happily say that I succeeded in achieving that goal!

Any training tips you would like to share: Nutrition has been a big deal for me. I’ve been Vegetarian for three years and had to alter my nutrition to fit the RBC GranFondo Whistler training. In the first few weeks of training, I felt hungry all of the time – regardless of how many bowls of quinoa, chickpeas or salads I ate. I’ve learned to introduce ‘good’ carbs, plus lots and lots of veggies and the occasional veggie burger, pasta or pizza. It’s been a learning experience, and a great one at that.

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August 2012 Rider of the Month: Sara

Our featured rider for the month of August is Sara Poidevin, a young inspiring cyclist who will be riding in the inaugural 2012 RBC GranFondo Banff.

Name: Sara Poidevin

Age: 16

Lives in: Canmore, AB

Short bio: I was born and have lived in the Bow Valley most of my life. I enjoy riding my bike, hiking, competing in different types of dance and casual cross-country skiing. Next year, I will graduate from École Notre-Dame des Monts in Canmore.

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events:

This will be my first GranFondo Canada event but my second gran fondo.

When did you start cycling?

Last year was my first year of racing. Before that, I just rode my mountain bike a little bit for fun.

How often do you ride in a week?

Usually about 4-5 days per week.

What was your most memorable cycling moment?

This year, I went to Maui with my family and did some road riding there with my dad. We rode the West Maui Loop and we rode up Haleakala. Those were very memorable experiences!

What’s your cycling goal for 2012?

The RBC GranFondo Banff will be my last race of the season, so in terms of racing, my goal is to get a high placing in the event and to finish with a good time. In terms of riding, I am hoping for a late winter since summer started late this year!

Any training tips you would like to share?

Try to do some rides with people who are faster than you so that you can learn from them.

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July 2012 Rider of the Month: Malindi

In addition to our Women In Cycling bloggers, we are introducing a new feature on the blog spotlighting inspiring female cyclists! Our featured rider for July is Malindi Elmore, an Olympian who loves cycling and is participating in the 2012 RBC GranFondo Kelowna!

Name:   Malindi Elmore

Age: 32

Lives in: Kelowna, BC

Short bio: 10 year National Team Track & Field member in middle and distance events.  Olympian, Pan Am Games medalist, World University Games medalist and World Cross Country Championships medalist.  New to triathlon and loving cycling!

Years participated in GranFondo Canada events:

First time will be the RBC GranFondo Kelowna 2012!

When did you start cycling?

I loved riding my bike as a kid and remember riding my clunky mountain bike for road rides frequently – I didn’t know any better and thought lugging my heavy bike up the hills around Kelowna was a great way to kill time on summer vacation.  Now when I ride my old high school routes I laugh at the memory of trying to time trial the hills and routes without a clue that there were special bikes for that kind of riding!  Nevertheless, I didn’t get a “real” bike until 4 years ago which I only used for a few rides each summer/fall when my track racing is done for the year. It is always a nice way for me to take a break from structured running training but still be outside moving!

How often do you ride in a week?

I used to only ride a dozen or so times a year, but since I unfortunately missed selection to the Olympic team this year, my track season is over much earlier than usual.  So I am now trying to ride 4 to 5 times a week and really get my running legs turned into cycling legs.  I am trying to ride to work as much as possible to save money, the environment and multi-task. So far I love it – I am in a much better mood all day when I can start and end my day with play!

What was your most memorable cycling moment?

Most people will probably start their first legitimate (ie non-mountain bike on the road) ride ever with a gentle spin around the neighbourhood, but since my sister and husband were both fanatical cyclists, they convinced me to ride from Calgary to Bragg Creek and back for my first time out (~90km).  They bribed me with the promise of a date square and coffee at the turnaround so I was all in…until I started to get a really tired and sore bum on the way back (no one told me about padded shorted or a better seat option!).  Ditched by hubby, my sister and I were cruising back along the flat, straight highway (a novelty in the Okanagan!) when a group of ridiculously fast / good looking riders cruise up to us.  They convince us to “get on their wheels and go for a ride”.  Maybe not the best advice for a totally green rider, but my sister and I did it and it was such a thrill to be whipping along effortlessly behind this amazing group of riders.  The date square, coffee, and drafting effect was what got me through that ride that day and after that I was hooked! Unfortunately, my husband no longer lets me stop half way for date squares any more.

What’s your cycling goal for 2012?

Improve my cycling split of the Apple Triathlon by 3 minutes (1:03) and do a ½ Ironman and of course the Kelowna GranFondo!

Any training tips you would like to share:

I have discovered the joy of riding to work and find that it only takes a few minutes longer than driving. Plus I just love riding home knowing I am not stuck in traffic and can whiz by people, take short-cuts, and more importantly, actually be doing what I want to do that day!

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