Picking a Plan for Whistler Gran Fondo next year

There is an annual race in a Vancouver. While technically a Gran Fondo it is a heck of a lot of mountain climbing (1900m / 6200 ft elevation) and (122 km/76 miles distance).

I’m not new to this race, I’ve done it 4 times, but I’d like to do better. I’ve chosen TR for help.

I know there is a Gran Fondo plan, but it’s not really a traditional one. I am wondering what would you pick for heavy sustained climbing?

I’ve started with low volume sweet spot base with an added fun ride with my son or by myself once per week (cause you got to enjoy life too). So right now 4 rides per week until my body adapts. I’m just wondering what phases I’ll progress to. Thoughts? And why?

Note: I’ll never win this race it’s more about personal best times.

Ps. It’s cancelled this year, but I may just ride it anyways.


Use the search function for ‘Whistler’, gives you a few helpful threads. You can also try to connect with the thread users, I think most of them have done the route as well as TR plans multiple times.

Good luck! :+1:

i have a similar race at the end of the year 135km 2770m vert, and i am nervous about the climbing. I am using TR as my back bone for training, supplemented with a long ride on the weekend (about 4 hrs). The event is in November and i used TR plan builder to develop the plan with my specialty being century.
So i have the following…
SST Base Mid Volume 1
SST Base Mid Volume 2
Sustained Power Build - Mid Volume
Century - Mid Volume
I am happy that i will increase my FTP and endurance but it will need to be supplemented with long rides so that my body will get use to be in the saddle for over 4 hrs. Good luck.

Good stuff. I don’t know how many of these type of rides you’ve done, but if you are new to it a few tips

  • make sure you know how many calories to take per hour on the bike
  • get in a few rides that are at least 70% of the distance (if you’ve never done it before)
  • practice the elevation lots

135km 2770m vert sounds like a beast!

I personally am going with low volume so I can throw in extra rides as I feel I need to without burning myself out too early. This is something that the TR guys recommended. Its all a personal choice thing though. I just like to have one ride per week that isn’t structured.

Enjoy your race!

Thanks IamDeablo, i havent done many of these rides and the vert is what makes me nervous. Thanks for the tips…
Safe Riding Shane

I’ll expand then:

  • Climbing is about power to weight and pacing. So trim what you can off your bike (and your gut). You should know what you need to carry for food and water and no more. So research your aid stations. 200-400 calories per hour depending on what you can handle.
  • Study the route, the elevations, etc.
  • Training on a trainer and climbing outside isn’t the same. You need saddle time on longer outside rides if you’re new to it. That’s why I suggest a low volume TR plan with a longer ride added.
  • Practice eating and drinking on the bike in practice. You need to eat right from the start. Spread your calories out.
  • If you aren’t used to biking beside other people, try some group rides.
  • Eat 2-3 hours ahead of the race Or if it’s a super early race an extra carb meal at night.
  • If you are allowed to draft on the flats do it. Stick on every single bikers tail you can. It makes a huge difference! There are good drafting videos on YouTube.
  • Practice periodization. I personally like 2 weeks on 1 week light (or 3 on 1 light). Prevents injury and burnout.
  • If you have months to train, you have months to train so don’t burn out/peak to early.
  • Study tapering. You want to be fresh for the event. Newbies train hard right up to the day before. Experienced maintain the intensity, but drop the volume a week or more before the event.
  • Get in lots of climbing so you know your pacing.
  • Know the weather and dress appropriately. If it starts cold and warms up and you’re on a budget, you can either get old clothes and throw them out when it warms up, or you can pack underneath with crumpled newspaper, use arm warmers, etc. If you have more cash, Gore Windstoppers are magic!
  • A good bike fit. Don’t change your fit too close to an event (at least 4 weeks out),
  • Know how to change a fat and carry spares,etc.

That’s what I can think of so far.

1 Like

@IamDeablo What gearing do you have on your bike?
Do you live in BC? Do you have access to climbs where you live?

Yes I live in North Vancouver so lots of access to mountains :wink:

In terms of gears, I am fat and old and recovered from surgery last year…so I put in a longer chain stay and the easiest gear ratio I could get without switching to a touring bike(which I figure would be too heavy). So I have 34-36 is my easiest gear setting (not much of a gear head so hopefully I got that right).

I’m just trying to survive the Fondo. I’ll be 50 this year and my goal is weight loss and enjoyment. Oh and if I can squeeze a personal best in that would be cool!

1 Like

Ps. I try to get on to Cypress around 5-6 a year.

Hi @IamDeablo! Great to see another Vancouverite on the forum! I did the Whistler Gran Fondo in 2018 and 2019. I qualified for the 2020 UCI GranFondo World Champsionship, but unfortunately with the pandemic it is cancelled along with the Whistler Fondo.

On this thread - Vancouver, BC Gran Fondo first timer - I posted my training plan that I followed for the 2019 season (first year with TR). I copied it here for convenience.

In 2018, I finished the fondo in 4:26 and in 2019, I came in at 3:43! I think a big part of the success was the structured training via TrainerRoad which started in Oct 2018 (sweet spot base 1 and 2, sustained power build, sweet spot base 2, sustained power build, climbing road race). Over the season, I averaged 5 hours per week and a weekly TSS of 360. 2019 was my second year of structured training and the first with TR. By the way, I am 45 yrs old and 78 kgs; so I am also a masters athlete.

In 2020, I let Plan Builder build out my training season (from Oct 2019 to Sept 2020) with my A event being the Whistler GranFondo / World Championship (now cancelled). I would start with that route. The training plan it selected was pretty much the same as what I hand-picked in 2019; although this year I chose General Build for my first build phase to focus on my weakness.

Judging by your earlier post on your list of tips, you got an excellent grasp of the fundamentals. To re-iterate a common theme from the podcasts, training consistency is important - start with low volume; nail those workouts and then build up volume as time allows.


Thanks Brianv17

Wow those are some great times! You’re more in the god category!

Thanks for your post. I appreciate you taking the time to share!

I’m a heavier guy (50 this year). My best time was 6:23. I was around 200 lbs then. Now I am 230. I’ve got a lot of work to do (mostly in the kitchen frankly). Trying get a handle on that.

My last ride was a shameful embarrassing 7:10. I had just gotten over a really bad bike accident (broken collar bone needing surgery and multiple ribs) in May of that same year and didn’t start training again until July. But hey it was freezing cold and raining and lots quit…I didn’t even consider it ;~). Then last year a hernia surgery. This year glute med tendonist. Weights creeped up and likely contributing to the injuries (and bad eating habits). So executive summary…I am a hot mess…lol!

Dispite all that, I’m feeling pretty good about the training this year. I find when I get the training going, I also pay better attention to the diet. Trying to balance a low volume plan with a few weekend rides or rides with my kids. I typically have 3 structured rides and one rec ride a week right now. I’m trying not to go too “weekend warrior” as I am only a few weeks into the plan (even though I am heavy motivated).

I come from years of martial arts and fast twitch training. I fell in love with biking about 8 years ago (even though I kind of suck at it completion wise lol).

@IamDeablo Nice range of gears to work with :+1:. Those should be plenty.
I recently moved to BC (Poco) and love the scenery and choice of mountains to climb or flat quiet roads south towards Whiterock

Losing some weight will make a huge difference. For incentive try wearing a backpack with a few kgs To cycle up some hills and then repeat without it. Amazing difference!

Then it’s just about practice optimizing how you use your gears and building your muscular endurance so you can sustain decent cadence and keeping your heart rate (or % of FTP) From getting too high.
I see plenty of older cyclists (much older than 50) going up those mountains so not sure that’s much of an excuse :wink:

I live in Vancouver and did the Whistler Fondo last year and qualified for the UCI WC.

For this year’s race I had intended to use General build > Rolling Road Race speciality, but would have switched out one of the weekend trainer road rides for Cypress or Mt Seymour or a Triple Crown on the North Shore.

Fingers crossed the UCI just move the race to 2021!

1 Like

Triple crown is the real deal. I haven’t done that one yet. A bit too much tss in one go for me still.

excellent advice

Living in San Francisco, where 50 miles and 4K feet of climbing is a “flat ride”, the keys are:

  • Just work on bringing up your FTP. Everything else being equal, you will do better with a 250 watt FTP than a 225 watt FTP
  • Make sure you have low enough gears. I run a 50x34, with an 11-30
  • If you can, practice riding climbs the length you will encounter. For me, I’m getting ready for Levi’s Gran Fondo, so I’ve done 40+ minute climbs the last two weekends at just below threshold
  • Figure out your nutrition / hydration

Good luck, and have an awesome time

Ill chime in here with what has worked for me, I have done the Forte a few times and the Fondo once with a roughly 3:30 finishing time.

I would recommend SSB 1 + 2, General build and Rolling road race.

If you are racing the Fondo I would also incorporate some VO2 max for the start, the front pack really hammers up Taylor Way and if you dont have a good supra threshold power you will get dropped.
I averaged 434w for the 2 minutes up that climb then averaged >300 for the next 10 -15 minutes, after that it tends to calm down a bit until closer to Squamish where it gets flat for a few k, if you miss the pack here good luck.

After Squamish its mostly up hill to the finish so there is less drafting but still good to stick with a group. This is also where people start to blow up if they have paced poorly or not been fueling properly.

For fueling I prefer to never stop at rest stops, I take 3 bottles of Beta fuel and a few gels.
The first bottle gets chucked at the first rest stop and they will be handing out gels, clif bloks and water at I think the 4th rest stop? Not positive on the exact one but its once you start climbing for a bit after Squamish.

For the climbing its not too bad, mostly efforts at sweet spot or slightly above FTP for the shorter ones, and you always have time to recover for a minute or two after most of the climbs.

If you have any specific questions let me know, I have done a ton of riding around here :stuck_out_tongue:


I’m on the exact opposite end of the spectrum as you. I’m badly overweight and I find that there isn’t a gear low enough for me. I’m 230 lb and 49 and 31% bf. So I have a lot of work to do in the kitchen.

Fighting repetitive strain issues as well with Glute Med tendonitis being the main one.

Most of my life has been fast twitch explosive training too. So I need to do a “major overhaul” vs a “tune up”. There is no front of the race or hammering up Taylor way here. There is mid pack and hold the f’$k on and pray that I don’t throw up going up Furry Creek…lol. My times have ranged from 6:23 to 7:10 (really, really bad injury that year with multiple fractures). 2017 was my injury year and I went around the corner with the announcer saying “and here we have or last 10 riders”. Tons of quitters that year…so heck at least I wasn’t one of them.

I tend to do a bit better in flatter courses for obvious reasons.

I have a okay amount of explosiveness (1000watts for 1 sec, 600 watts for 10 sec), but after that it drops off very quickly. 233 watts, 20 mins. 195 watts at an hour when I am good shape.

I tend to be a grinder (particularly carrying 230 up to Whistler) and it seems there is no amount of granny gear.

I’m not putting myself down, but that’s what you’ve realistically got to work with :hot_face:

1 Like

We all have to start somewhere mate, no shame in that! Look at it as you can just improve even more :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

2017 was a brutal year, I remember seeing a ton of people abandon because of the very cold rain so a huge kudos for finishing that year!

Considering I broke a collarbone into multiple pieces requiring surgery and 4 ribs in May, I did okay to get through it! LOL.

So what would you do with a badly out of shape dude like me?