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It was love at first sight the day Christian Meier picked up a mountain bike magazine in a shop and caught his first glimpse of the cycling world. At only 15-years-old, he became heavily involved in mountain biking, racing both cross country and downhill. But as he later discovered, it was road biking that truly formed his passion and would excel him to the top of the professional level.
Now 27, Meier boasts a massive resume of cycling titles from around the world, including first place at the 2011 BC Provincial Time Trial Championships, eighth at the 2011 Canadian National Road Race Championships, second at the 2011 Canadian National Time Trials, eighth at the 2011 Vuelta Asturias, seventh at the 2010 Tour of Britain, and most recently first at the Tour de White Rock last Sunday.
“I got a road bike and I just fell in love with the road, and the rest is history,” said Meier, an eastern Canada native, who now calls Langley home.
For him, the greatest joy of riding is being outside to enjoy nature.
“I think for me, when I was younger with the mountain biking, it was mostly a sense of being outside in nature and in the forest,” he said. “(When on) the road, I really enjoy being able to see a lot of things in one day. You cover a big amount of ground. I can see the scenery.”
One of the most enjoyable rides for him was on the very scenic Giro d’Italia in May, Meier recalled.
“Some of those places that we rode through in Italy were breathtaking. Italy is known for its scenery, especially in Tuscany with the rolling hills. There were some days there I was really blown away by how beautiful it was there,” he said.
Another of his favourite rides is right in our own backyard. Country roads winding through Fort Langley, Glen Valley and Abbotsford were regular training routes for Meier when he first moved out west. Now, the popular route has been sanctioned in the upcoming Valley GranFondo this Sunday.
Meier, who is a pro ambassador for the event, will be riding alongside cyclists of all abilities to help raise money for Special Olympics BC.
“They’re a great crew and their going for a great cause. A lot of these events are really big money-making machines so its great to see them giving back to the community,” Meier said of the GranFondo.
The event, which is not a race, will be much more relaxing for Meier, who is accustomed to training 30 hours a week for strenuous rides.
“You have to come into the race fresh, so you have to make sure you’re really well rested before the race. Many times you just have to be prepared physically but mentally healthy as well. There’s a lot that goes on during the race so you have to make sure you are mentally rested,” he said.
But on Sunday Meier can enjoy the scenery rather than worry about finishing first.
“Usually there’s a lot going on in a race. If we have a race specific goal that we are trying to accomplish that day, (we focus) on that goal,” he said. “There’s days where there’s team goals and other days where the team has no really big goal and the day is a bit more relaxed, your mind can wonder. But on days when there’s a race goal you need to focus on that.”
To the 1,500 cyclists riding with him in the GranFondo, Meier says to “just have fun.”
“Really take in the scenery, it’s one of the most beautiful rides. Just enjoy. It’s not a race, that’s something to remember, so really enjoy it the most you can. It’s fantastic, it’s going to be a great event. Just take it all in.”
The inaugural Valley GranFondo kicks off at 7 a.m. at the Fort Langley National Historic site this Sunday (July 22). Festivals and events will take place at the site all day long. For more information visit www.valleygranfondo.com.