GranFondo sparks new bonds
Preparing for a six hour cycling ride is no easy feat. It takes months of practice rides and spin classes, a strict nutritional diet and a committed mental attitude. That’s what three employees of Wolfe Subaru Langley have discovered since they took on the challenge of the Valley GranFondo.
Vice-president Mike Hacquard, general manager Marc Livingstone and shop foreman technician Brian Liftin have teamed together to train for the 160 km cycling event, being held in Fort Langley this Sunday (July 22).
While Hacquard has participated in GranFondos and similar events in the past, this is Liftin and Livingstone’s very first attempt at a ride of this magnitude.
“You learn a lot about your stamina, about nutrition, how important it is to hydrate and mental preparation, too,” Hacquard said. “The nice thing about riding in a group and doing this as a trio is that you kind of lean on one another to get through it.”
The three have been training at least twice a week for the past three months, riding anywhere from 50 to 150 km in a single session. Last month, they challenged themselves by riding up Cypress Mountain. It took over an hour to ride the approximate 15 km on an eight to 12 degree climb.
“By the time we got to the top I wanted to jump off the bike and kiss the ground,” Livingstone said. “It was like ‘wow’ I made it. I felt elated, like a goal was accomplished. It was very cool. I’m looking forward to feeling that at the end of the GranFondo.”
One of the biggest lessons that has come from training is the importance of eating well and keeping hydrated. Riding a GranFondo event can burn 3,000 to 5,000 calories, so it is vital to replenish your system, Hacquard said.
Liftin discovered this the hard way two weeks ago when he attempted to ride the Valley GranFondo route from Fort Langley, through Abbotsford, up Sumas Mountain and back to Fort Langley in the middle of the hot afternoon sun.
“I started falling asleep on my bike,” he said. “I didn’t have enough fluids. I took all my supplements, my bananas, my power bar — I just didn’t have enough to drink. I actually had to stop in Fort Langley near the end and have a little nap before I rode home. It’s tough.”
Beyond the physical strain, the ride is also mentally challenging.
“It’s exciting and it’s daunting all at the same time,” Hacquard said. “It’s a bit of a character test. But once you start going, and you get the first half hour in, you start to get away from all of the emotions and you begin to focus on the ride. Because it’s so long, anywhere from three and a half to six hours to complete, you go through a lot of different states emotionally and physically throughout the ride.”
When asked if there have ever been moments they thought they couldn’t make it, Livingstone said “all the time.”
“I’m looking for excuses. Come on chain please break off. Come on tire, something, please,” he said with a laugh.
The trio’s main goal for the GranFondo on Sunday is to finish the ride together. Training for the event has allowed the employees from three different levels of the company to get to know each other better, also changing their work dynamic.
“It’s brought us together a little closer,” Hacquard said. “We’re now trying to get as many employees as we can to be part of events outside of work. It brings us together in a little bit more of a team environment.
The Valley GranFondo starts at 7 a.m. inside the Fort Langley National Historic Site in Fort Langley. It is the first mass cycling event of its kind in the Fraser Valley and half of the proceeds will be donated to Special Olympics B.C. to provide sports programs for those with disabilities. Entertainment and festivities will take place throughout the day at the Fort. For more information, visit www.valleygranfondo.com.