Here’s an interview with a mature man who is about to take on a challenge many of us dream of doing – the RBC Whistler GranFondo!
Jody Malo is International Sales Manager at Singer Valve Inc., a company I joined earlier this year. Singer Valve has great products and a great culture, which has enabled the company to retain a large contingent of staff … read, “mature workforce.” Despite this maturity there are a number of athletes on staff – marathoners, kayakers, golfers, soccer players and yes – cyclists.
Jody travels the world for his job, which has allowed him to experience different cultures in Asia and Africa – but his schedule can wreak havoc on his body. But he counters that with cycling, and has done some significant bike rides over the past few years. Now he is planning to do an extremely impressive ride – the RBC Whistler GranFondo.
Jody grew up in Kelowna and attended UBC, earning a Bachelor of Applied Science (Engineering) degree. Growing up he was a mountain biker and enjoyed roaming the hills in Kelowna, as well as most outdoor sports including running, wakeboarding, golf, and hiking the hills with his dog Kash.
Three years ago he moved to Vancouver and started road biking; each year joining the Singer Team on The Ride to Conquer Cancer. After three years of intensive fund raising for the ride, he felt fatigued by the financial commitment and decided he needed a break from the fund raising. (I hear this a lot from people who have done the ride for multiple years).
But he had become addicted to long road rides and still wanted to test himself. Having just turned 50 this year he decided to set his sights on the RBC Whistler GranFondo. Okay, I work with the guy and I know he is not crazy, but seriously dude … Whistler. Yikes!! Reminds me of my friend Al, who decided to quit smoking, then started cycling and losing weight, and ended up doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer! You can read about Al’s amazing journey from unfit to super fit here.
To me, the RBC Whistler GranFondo sounds like a really intimidating ride along a very dangerous road with lots of hills. I asked Jody what he would say to say to the average person who might be thinking about doing this ride.
Jody: Hard to say what the experience will be like, but I do not view the RBC Whistler GranFondo as dangerous at all. I think going down some of the steep hills will be a welcome break from the uphill climbs. The ride will be difficult and I’m sure my legs will feel the punishment. This will be the biggest challenge and why some riders would be intimidated by this particular fondo.
Maggie: Why are you doing the RBC Whistler GranFondo?
Jody: I have done the Ride to Conquer Cancer three times. I wanted to try another ride that was more difficult, and a bigger challenge. (Maggie: I told you he was addicted!) So I figured I would choose what I feel is the hardest of the fondo’s in BC – the RBC Whistler GranFondo. The hills on this ride will be a big challenge. When you sign up for a ride like this, it forces you to train harder.
Maggie: So how do you train for a challenging ride like the RBC Whistler GranFondo?
Jody: I have been increasing both frequency and lengths of my rides over the past month and will continue to do so with about seven weeks to go. My goal was to ride over 200 km per week within the last month of training and I am getting pretty close to that now. In August I will start intense hill climbing to get my legs more used to steep hills, and to help them recover.
Maggie: What bike are you riding in the RBC Whistler GranFondo?
Jody: I have a Specialized Tarmac Expert with Ultegra running gear and brakes. Last year I switched to electronic shifting and it’s so much nicer than the cables I used before.
Maggie: Well, all I can say is hats off to you Jody. We’ll check in again after you finish the RBC Whistler GranFondo!
What is a gran fondo?
Gran fondo is Italian for “big race.” A gran fondo is a long-distance road cycling event in which thousands of cyclists ride a marked route. Some have closed routes (such as the RBC Whistler GranFondo), in others the cyclists have to share the road with traffic. Riders are individually chip timed
What is the RBC Whistler GranFondo?
In 2010 GranFondo Canada introduced the first world-class gran fondo to Canada with the RBC GranFondo Whistler. The race is held annually, and requires riders to ride along the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.
The 2016 RBC Whistler GranFondo will be held on Saturday, September 10, 2016. The ride starts in Stanley Park in Vancouver. The riders cycle through the park and over the Lions Gate Bridge at a controlled 25 km per hour speed. At the bottom of Taylor Way in West Vancouver the climb begins and the racers are released from the controlled start. The cyclists ride along the incredibly scenic Sea to Sky Highway, with its many twists and turns and ups and downs (mainly ups).
The RBC Whistler GranFondo ends in the beautiful and popular resort town of Whistler (read about much more gentle cycling in Whistler here).
There are three distances for the the RBC Whistler GranFondo: Forte – 152 km, GranFondo – 122 km, and Medio – 55 km.
The race distance is 122 km (76 miles), which is significantly less than the Ride to Conquer Cancer, but the elevation gain is 1,700 m (5,577 feet)! To put this number into perspective: it is greater than the elevation gain on any stage of the 2016 Tour de France.
Click here to find out more about the RBC Whistler GranFondo. Or click here to read a first-hand from Alex Precosky about what it feels like to ride the Whistler GranFondo for the first time.
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