Pemberton, Triathlon, Whistler

Don’t hold your tongue

As anyone living in the Sea-to-Sky corridor knows, Ironman Canada is here this week.  So far, things have been going smoothly and the general feeling from the athletes is that of excitement and nervous anticipation.

From what I can tell, that feeling is mostly shared by Whistler residents and Pemberton appears to be the linchpin in the success of the race.

That said, if you live in Pemberton and have an opinion, you have a perfect opportunity to share it: The Ironman Community Feedback session.  When we want to grumble about something, we tend to do it with our friends, our neighbours, our hairdresser…

So if you have something to say, say it!  This is your chance.  Better yet, come equipped with constructive feedback, proposed solutions, ideas and information you feel is worth sharing.

Changes can’t happen if the right people don’t know about them.

On a lighter note:

Workation, Day 5.


Biking, Pemberton, Racing

The Duffey: Defeated.


The Duffey Lake Road: Defeated once again

Local riders tackle notorious climb

Pemberton, BC – A group of dedicated, hard-core, lycra-clad weekend warriors gathered at the base of the relentless climb to take on the challenge of Defeating the Duffey on a sunny, mosquito-y Sunday morning.  This year’s race, the third annual, saw the biggest turnout ever for Pemberton’s premiere uphill event, attracting 15 riders from as far away as North Vancouver.

Per the regulations governing the event, riders surrendered all timing devices prior to the start and submitted their guesses to the timing officials.  Said Anja Taylor, assistant timer and official mosquito repellant sprayer, “5-6-4-fwee-2-1-GO!”  Although race rules call for the time-trial start to allow for one minute intervals between riders, swarms of mosquitos forced organizers to bump the intervals up to 30s to avoid too much blood loss, which would effectively negate all blood-doping advantages.

The pack charged hard up the hill, with early leader and slow-time predictor Kevin Glavas leading the way.  The peloton soon followed, with several attacks brought on by the hard-charging Sarah Olner and the hard-gasping David Higgins.  Eventual winner Vincent Marcotte picked his way through the field, whistling.

The caravan, sponsored by Volvo, safely carried paparazzi and a frenzied fan to the finish line to greet the exhausted racers. Once at the finish, racers were thrown a curve ball with a new finish line/rock this year, adding 15 feet to the race and throwing off many a prediction.  A stiff breeze picked up at the finish, and racers wasted little time trash talking one another before enjoying a very rapid descent.

At the awards banquet, the podium ceremony was derailed by the organizers very poor math skills but the event was salvaged by an eagle-eared Higgins.  Winner Paul Nicholas said, “thank god for this victory.  My ever-expanding brood depends on me to bring home the bacon, and this bag of cherries and bag of Pemberton Coffee makes all those early mornings so worth it”.  He teared up as he hugged and kissed his young family and waved to his adoring fan.  Organizers would like to thank all those who attended and list all the winners, losers and times but the results sheet went missing.

The race committee looks forward to hosting next year’s event and to not being in charge of timing.






Biking, Pemberton, Racing, weekend

Defeat the Duffey 2013: It’s here!

The event is upon us… Sunday morning.  Lakeside.  Hot temps in store.  The more the merrier, you’ll be rewarded with a killer ride, sweatiness, and a post-event BBQ/smack talk event.  C’mon.  It’s fun.


photo (1)

Join us… Don’t be scared.  We’re friendly, we don’t bite but we do like to smack-talk each other.

Day-to-day life, Family, Kids, Pemberton


Has finally arrived in all its hot, sunny glory in Pemberton.  Combine the fact that when possible, I choose to be outdoors rather than indoors with a self-imposed screen/virtual/social media/internet break on weekends, I’ve not got much time or inclination to write.

Simply summarized, life looks like this these days:

Coffee on the deck early in the mornings rather than bundled in a dark kitchen.  Commuting to work by bike a few times a week in only a jersey and shorts.  Fans in almost every room of the house.  Pool or lake time instead of baths and showers.  Lots and lots of time on bikes.  Sunscreen.  Hot, hot, hot trail runs (my favourite – except for when the sunscreen stings my eyes).  Water bottles scattered everywhere.  Entry way full of flip flops.  Falling asleep when it’s still light out (I consider this a luxury while some consider it a weakness).  Kids in swimsuits 24/7.  Ice cream treats.  Fresh local fruits.  Gardens, sprinkler and trampolines.

Happy Summer, friends.  Up next?  Defeat the Duffey – a local event not to be missed!

Day-to-day life, Kids, Pemberton, QOTD


Scene: after dinner, leaving Mile 1, back steps of the restaurant.  Anja, 3, wearing white and black zebra print top with pink ruffled sequinned skirt is hauling her runner bike up the steps.

Me: “What are you doing?”

Anja: “I’m gonna ride down the stairs.”

Me (looking at the 4 concrete stairs): “Um, no.”


Me: “Right. Whatever.  Wait till Dad gets home so you can try then.”

Anja: “Ok.  That way I’ll do it and Dad will spot me.”

dad will spot me, said the 3 year old.  Only in this world.

Family, Kids, Pemberton, Racing, Running, weekend, Whistler

Monday wrap

tbt I’m starting to understand more and more what people mean when they say that weekends go by too weekly.  Seriously, how does that happen?  One minute it’s Friday night and I’m relishing 48 hours off and the next I’m back to making school lunches.

My grand plans to return to the Test of Metal this past weekend were foiled by injury and babysitting costs.  So on to plan B we went… The Whistler Valley Trail Run.  The boys both promised they’d run the whole thing.  Will kept his word.  Rory, however, not so much.  Pushing 75 pounds of kids through the trails is the same as running 10k, right?  Right. kids

Anja rounded off the team effort with the Teddy Bear trot.  No dress this time, I don’t know what got into her.

(Editor’s note: Why don’t more people do this run?  Cost?  Location?  Timing?  It could be so good and yet…) 

Sunday I celebrated Father’s Day by sleeping in till 7:30 and then treating myself to a 2h solo trail run.  That was pretty much perfection right there.

runLater that afternoon we tackled the trails for some kid mountain biking.  We’re working on our “descending and cornering”.  Also known as “slow down and watch where you’re going or you’ll give your mother a heart attack”

(Editor’s note: to the woman who snarled at us on Happy Trail because our kids were “in her way”: trail karma will get you and it will take you down.  If not,  I will, next time you do that.)

Phew, I feel better already.

Next up: a trail race without kids, Comfortably Numb.  My body has blocked out the pain from the last time I did it, let’s see how quickly those memories come flooding back next weekend.

Biking, Pemberton, Racing, Triathlon, Whistler

This girl’s take on the IMC bike course

When I first moved here 13 years ago, rare were road bikes on highway 99 between Whistler and Pemberton (and rarer still, south to Squamish).  With the increase in cycling events and cycling’s popularity in general, we’re starting to see LOTS of bikes on the roads and this makes me happy.  It’s a sport that I love and I’m happy to see so many people, local and visitors alike, embracing it.

With Ironman Canada looming, the roads are getting busier every day.  I’ve had the distinct pleasure of eavesdropping on some conversations had by these riders, be it in coffee shops, the gym, the grocery store…  It’s provided a few good chuckles when I hear some of the athletes say things like “Oh, the Callaghan is definitely the hardest part”.  My internal monologue takes on a super condescending tone, saying something like “Oh honey, you have no idea”.  I’d never dare say that out loud.  I’m opinionated, not stupid.

That said, I know lots of Iron athletes are signed up who won’t be able to ride the course ahead of time.  Herewith, my opinion of how the ride will go.

(Editor’s note: I don’t ride with a computer, a GPS, a power meter or a watch.  I have no sense of elevation, power, watts, etc.  I like to ride by feel and fun.)

You’ll leave Rainbow Park (or in this case, T1) and right away, the fun begins.  Heading north, you’ll hit a few shorter climbs right away before cruising south on Hwy 99 towards your first major challenge of the day, the Callaghan climb.  Hopefully, the highway through Whistler will be lined with lots of cheering sections to boost your morale as your start your journey!  It’s a nice, mostly downhill, section all the way to the Callaghan.  inukshuk-callaghan-valley-bc-290

When you make the right hand turn to start climbing to the Callaghan, you’ll start climbing for about 10k.  I personally find it to be quite a nice climb with no steep grades to really suck your will to live – with maybe one exception near the top.  If you’re hoping to see some bears on this course, the Callaghan is going to be your best bet.

Useless fun fact #1: When I worked at the ski jump venue at the 2010 Games, this road was closed for about 40 minutes so that USA VP Biden could make his way to the venue with his entourage.  Have a good look around when you get to the top!  This venue didn’t exist prior to 2008… 

When you hit the bottom of the Callaghan and head back into Whistler, don’t discount these climbs!  They are shorter but steeper.  After descending for quite some time, spin our your legs or you’ll be miserable for a while.  Be prepared to shift a lot on this course (your gears and your body.  All the up adn down will require it).  Savour the cheers of the crowds back in Whistler.  You won’t be seeing many people between Whistler and Pemberton.

From Green Lake to Pemberton, it’s mostly downhill with 2 exceptions: the shorter steeper climb at Shadow lake and the beloved Suicide Hill.  Be watchful on this section of road.  The paving isn’t the best and you’ll come ripping down a couple of the hills to some train tracks.  Bike handling skills come in handy here…

Useless fun fact #2: On January 4th, a train derailed and went off the tracks at the bottom of suicide hill, thus closing the highway for several hours.  Fear not: trains won’t be running on race day.

Suicide Hill is steep but fairly short.  Some locals are planning a fun surprise here (think that weird devil dude at the Tour de France) – I hope they pull it off.

welcome-to-pembertonOnce you get to Pemberton, you’ll head out the famous/infamous Pemberton Meadows road, a flat 25K out and back.  I say infamous here because it’s the one I recommend cyclists be the most cautious on when training in our area.  While many, many residents actively support Ironman, there is a small minority of people who just as actively don’t – and they aren’t afraid to show their displeasure.  I strongly suggest staying in single file (while training), even if it seems like no one is coming.  Trust me, someone is always coming…

Useless fun fact #3: In 2009, the far end of the meadows experienced major forest fires, resulting in middle-of-the-night livestock evacuations.  You can read about one farm’s experience here. In 2010, there was a huge landslide at Meager Creek, once again affecting farms out the Meadows. 

Be prepared for winds.  They seem to be at their strongest past 2pm, but they can always surprise us.  Plus, they have that delightful ability to surprise us and turn, making you think that you may have had a tail wind coming to you but…no.  Headwind both ways.  It happens.  Stay loose!

Back in Pemberton, smile and wave at the crowds, put your head down and be prepared to work because let’s face it… what goes down has to go back up, right?

Useless fun fact #4: In 2003, Pemberton experienced an early snowfall followed by a melt and epic rains.  This led to major flooding and to the highway being closed for several days due to the collapse of the Rutherford Creek Bridge.  Something to think about as you pedal over it!

The ride back to Whistler is hard.  Point blank.  Even on fresh legs, it’s hard.  It’s hilly, frequently windy and about 36k long.  But don’t let it break you.  This part can be mentally broken into several parts and it won’t seem so bad that way.  If you are totally struggling and/or overheating, there’s a great pull out across from the motocross track.  Dump your bike, dunk your helmet in the ice cold river, take a deep breath and get back at it.  Once you get back to WedgeWoods, know that the hardest part is over.  You’ll have a few more shorter climbs to tackle but the bulk of the cycling work is behind you.

Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, seen from Green Lake
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, seen from Green Lake

Cruise into Whistler to the cheers of your adoring fans, rack you bike and get ready to run.  Fun, right?

I’m editing this to include this message from Frank Savage, a planner at the Resort Municipality of Whistler, because I think it’s an important one:


Hello Whistler Tri Club, Team Whistler and local riders,

With the growing number of local and visiting cyclists using Highway 99 and other roads in the Sea to Sky Corridor, there is a concern about safety of cyclists. Some are training for Ironman or GranFondo, others are riding for fitness, and many are just using a bicycle to get around. There are many economic, health and societal benefits to cycling, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler and other Corridor communities are encouraging cyclists to come to the Corridor to visit and to train. We want them to enjoy the experience and be safe.

However, cyclists and motorists may not be fully knowledgeable of the rules of sharing the road, so we are developing key messages to both cyclists and drivers. Attached is a brochure previously prepared by the Whistler Tri Club. We may update it and we will prepare new materials to post on websites, send to the media and distribute with maps, etc.

The following is a draft of key messages to drivers and cyclists. We want simple, positive and balanced messages to both. (The last point in each is a throw-away, there if we want to keep it light.) Please review and send me your comments on the draft key messages and the brochure. I would appreciate comments by Wednesday, June 5 so we can start getting the message out.

Key Messages to Drivers:

  • ·        Share the road, Show respect
  • ·        When passing, allow at least one metre between your vehicle and a cyclist.
  • ·        When turning, leave plenty of room for cyclists who may be moving faster than you think.
  • ·        On rural roads a cyclist may not know you are behind. Before overtaking, consider giving a tap on your horn as a warning.
  • ·        Cyclists have the same rights and duties as the driver of a motor vehicle.
  • ·        Cyclists are not required to ride on any part of the road that is not paved.
  • ·        Cyclists are permitted to ride to the left of the white line.
  • ·        Be considerate. That cyclist you see might be your friend, neighbour, co-worker, child, spouse, mother, grandchild, grandmother, boss, banker, ….

Key Messages to Cyclists:

  • ·        Share the road, Show respect
  • ·        Be visible, be predictable, wear a helmet
  • ·        Use hand signals when you change lanes, turn, stop, slow down.
  • ·        Cyclists have the same rights and duties as the driver of a motor vehicle.
  • ·        Cyclists must ride as near as practicable to the right side of the road.
  • ·        Cyclists are not required to ride on any part of the road that is not paved.
  • ·        Cyclists must not ride abreast of another cyclist on the road.
  • ·        Use your head, cars hurt!


Thanks and best regards,


Frank Savage PLANNER

Biking, Kids, Pemberton, Racing, Running, Travel, Triathlon, Whistler

Ironman Canada from the sidelines

So, you’re doing Ironman Canada.  Good for you.

You’ve lovingly convinced/dragged/coerced your loved ones/family/friends/crew to join you for the fun.

As a good, caring and unselfish triathlete, you aren’t going to force these fine folks to sit around in your condo or hotel room and watch you lie about with your legs up the wall while you sip your endurance beverage of choice out of carefully labeled water bottles, are you?

No, you are not.

This is a world-class resort with a lot of things to do and explore.  Let’s be good people and send them out the door with a list of things to do while you rest up in those recovery boots, shall we?

The Kids

I’ll be the first to admit that I love spectating at Ironman.  Sure, there are some boring bits, but those are squished between frantic moments of running around the course, cheering, admiring, eating, crying, coaxing, taking pictures and plotting an eventual comeback.  My favourite thing to see, however, is kids cheering on mom and dad.  They make cute posters, wear dorky matching shirts, scream at the top of their little high-pitched lungs. One day, I’ll be that mom with her kids screaming at her to move her ass. But then, they fall asleep.  Everywhere.  In strollers. On a patch of grass.  In a restaurant chair.  It’s awesome but also makes me feel bad for them: don’t they want to be doing something else?

It’s going to be August which means it’s going to be hot (probably) which means – LAKES.  Hit the lakes!  There are at least 3 fun beach parks that will keep those little people in your life occupied for quite some time: Rainbow Park (the start of the swim course, so perhaps not the best choice closer to race day), Lost Lake park (rent a bike and pedal your way out there, it’s the way to go), Alpha Lake Park (again, use the Valley Trail to bike out there).

Speaking of bikes, put those little suckers into bike camp.  DFX camps are awesome and they’ve turned my kids into confident little terrors on 2 wheels.  Arrange (ahead of time!) a bike rental for getting around town.  There are tons of places to rent and most rent Chariot trailers, too: perfect for hauling picnics, gear and tired little people.

The Municipality here offers a lot of day camp options if your offspring aren’t keen on bikes.  Smear on the sunscreen and kiss them goodbye.  They are in good hands.

If you want a night out (which, yeah.  I know.  Not before race day!  But maybe you’re like me and don’t think that having that 1 beer will ruin your race so you’ll go for it), call the fine folks at Babysitting Whistler.  They’re priced like that because they are good.

There are so many activities that you can do with your kids, too.  The Adventure Zone, Zip-Trek, Rafting, Bungee Jumping (if you’re that kind of parent), Yoga, Swimming, Bounce (if it’s raining which it won’t be), the PEAK 2 PEAK, and tons of playgrounds.

The bottom line is this: if your kids claim that they are bored while they are here, someone’s doing something wrong.

Your ironmate

 (Editor’s note: Worst moniker EVER.  If I called my husband my “ironmate”, he’d divorce me on the spot).

Moving on.  I could go the usual route and write something like “treat your lady to a day at the spa bla bla bla” but WAIT.  Not all who do Ironman are MEN.  This is an equal opportunity blog.  Ha.

So yeah, there are spas, of course.  The Scandinave happens to be spectacular.  But adult-folk can do lots of the same things I suggested for the kids.  The mountain biking in this place is amazing.  If you are keen to learn the bike park, go for it.  Listen, I get that it looks insane and totally intimidating and super scary but there really is something for everyone (and if my 4 year old rode it last year, then so can you).

Golf.  I hear there’s good golfing around here.  I personally run out of steam at 7 holes, but if that’s your thing there are at least 6 courses for you to get frustrated at between Squamish and Pemberton.

If you’re a runner, let me be the first to encourage you to bring your trail gear and explore our valley.  The trail running here is second to none and you can thank me later for telling you to go.  In fact, why don’t you race, too?  The 5 Peaks is the day before Ironman and a perfect excuse to get up the mountain.

If your person wants to cheer you on, well that’s just awesome.  The swim start is at Rainbow park and, unless your fan club has a bike, I’d advise against going out to the start.  Rather, have them stay in the village, enjoy a coffee and watch you and 2,499 or so of your friends fight for open water on the big screen in Whistler Olympic Plaza.  That way, they can enjoy some village time while you pedal your heart out up and down our hills for the next 180 km.

(Editor’s note: Oh yes, you know I’ll be writing my own personal review of the bike and run courses.  Maybe the swim and the transitions too, if I’m feeling particularly detail-oriented.  Wait!  Maybe I’ll GoPro the whole thing!  Actually, no I won’t.)

The bike will be tough to spectate – but let’s be honest, isn’t it always?  Apart from coming into and out of the transitions, your personal cheer squad is going to have to find a way to get themselves out of the village without getting stuck in traffic and/or impeding the race.  Unless they can pedal their way out there?  I’d stick to cheering the run course.  Which is going to be awesome!  With shade!  Pull up a lawn chair, crack a cold (non-alcoholic, of course) one and yell till midnight, at which point you can come and join me for some teary-eyed cheering at the finish.

Before and After

If you can, come to Whistler a week before to experience my favourite event of the summer: The Slow Food Cycle.  It’s a week out from race day – surely the 35-ish kilometers you’ll have to pedal aren’t going to hinder your race prep, are they?

Load up the bikes, the kids, the trailer, bring some water and sunscreen, leave the lycra at home (I beg of you), slow down and enjoy being part of something that will surely be the highlight of your visit.  Trust me on this one.

If you’re sticking around after Ironman, or visiting before, get out of Whistler and explore a bit!  Pemberton has some great trails, a perfect lake (or 2) to chill at, Mile One, Blackbird Bakery, and so on and so on (I’ve bragged abotu these places before… I’d send you to Squamish but all I really know about Squamish is where to ride and I’m sure you can figure that out on your own.

There’s so much more I could share, but really it’s up to you to make the most of your time here. Get out here and do it!

And for the love of god, start waving to each other on the bike.  It’s just rude not to.