Vancouver, BC Gran Fondo first timer

Hello, I am in Vancouver, BC Canada and thinking about trying a gran fondo this year, it would be my first one. I am new to endurance sports as I just got into them this year (swim bike & run). I am going to focus on running from now til May 2019 as I will do a half marathon in Feb and try my first full marathon in May. I will shoot for a half marathon time of 1 hour 50 min and I would like to do the marathon just under 4 hours if I can.
Anyway, after the marathon is done I would like to shift my focus back to the bike (I only just finished sweet spot low volume part 1) and see if I can try a gran fondo or 2 this year. Maybe the valley fondo and or the whistler fondo. There is the gibsons fondo but that may be a bit more work to participate in than I am looking for at the moment.
So I am curious if there is any feedback on me just going out and doing a gran fondo solo, by myself, or should I try to find a group to do it with?
Any other feedback is also welcomed.
Thank you

1 Like

Hi! Glad to have another TrainerRoad user from Vancouver. I have done the Valley GranFondo twice (2016 and 2017) and the Whistler GranFondo once in 2018. Both are excellent, well organized events and I would highly recommend them.

If you are looking to get your feet wet, so to speak, I would suggest the Pacific Populaire which is in the April timeframe. It’s a good way to try out an organized longer distance event without the bigger cost. They have 25/50/100km options. From there, the Valley GranFondo is a good bet as it offers several distances and less elevation than Whistler. But, if you are looking for an epic event with world class scenery then you must add the Whistler GranFondo to your bucket list :-).

I am not currently a member with any local bike club (just google around to find them) as I find scheduling difficult with young kids at home. I know that the Whistler GranFondo offers training programs and social group rides prior to the event (PrimaFondo rides), so that may be a good option if you are looking for organized rides.

Also, there are learn to ride clinics offered through BSP Bikes - I have done several and they are worthwhile.

You are always welcome to send me a private message should you have more specific questions.


Thank you @brianv17
I also have young kids so fitting in long outdoor rides is tough, thank you trainer road :+1:.
I will keep my eyes out for Pacific populaire.
I heard about the bsp sessions and will check their site in the spring for the new sessions.
Thanks again

1 Like

I’m also a Vancouverite (North Vancouver).

I did the Whistler Granfondo in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Since then I’ve done other fondos like the Valley Granfondo, Tour de Victoria and the Penticton Granfondo.

If you are doing it solo and you are new to group riding, the Valley Granfondo may be the best place to start. It’s the cheapest and you can just drive out to Fort Langley for the day. Whistler, Victoria and Penticon all include extra travel costs, considerations and logistics.

If you haven’t done a lot of group riding, I highly recommend joining a local ride club. It will help you learn how to ride in a group, namely for etiquette and safety. Each club will divide up into different groups based on ability. The social aspect of ride clubs is also a big part of the fun. I have been a remember of the Steed Cycles Ride Club for the past 5 years - it’s a great community.


Thanks @John_Barclay. It does look like the valley fondo makes sense for me to target. I’ll keep checking the site to see when they announce the 2019 date. I’m in north burnaby so I wish there was a cycling club somewhat close to me but everything is downtown, kits, ubc, or north shore. Maybe I will check out Steed in the spring. Thanks for the info.

1 Like

I think there are a few people from North Burnaby that are a part of the Steed club. The group rides start in mid-April.

1 Like

Hi all, I had another question about Gran Fondos I was hoping I could get some input on.
Do people usually do them on their own the first few times or is it more advisable to ride in a group, work together, draft, …?
Thanks very much,

I’m a neighbor from south of the border in Seattle. I did the Whistler Gran Fondo 2018. It was amazing. I don’t think you need to be part of a club. You are free to latch on to groups whenever. I did it with a friend and we met some amazing people and morphed in and out of riders who were going our speed. It is a well organized event, and I would highly recommend it. In fact, I’m already registered to for the 2019 event. Hope to see you there.

However, given the level of responses to your post from people in Vancouver, I would join up with these groups if I were you. Group riding is just so much more fun. It’s great to have like minded folks to do training rides. Not sure why you would want to run all those marathons when riding is so much more fun?

Bests, Hope to see you in Whistler next year.


First off…I’ll be riding with @CaptainEndo, whether he likes it or not! Captains of a feather and all that. :wink:

Secondly…it’s not 100% yet, but the Whistler fondo is on my 2019 radar. It’ll also be my first gran fondo.

Here’s my first timer question: how does the start “grid” work? :man_shrugging::thinking:

I know people who have done it before and basically don’t start moving until 15 minutes AFTER the starting gun because there’s so many people. How am I supposed to win if I’m that far back at Km 0?! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Hey Captain,

It’s a tiered start, so you pick the group you want to start with based upon how long you think it will take to finish. Then your timing chip doesn’t start until you actually cross the start line, so its pretty fair in that regard. You should still be able to win.

Hope to see you in Whistler.


Hi @vanbc, my experience with the Gran Fondos is that ad-hoc groups will form up during the race as you save quite a bit of energy by drafting in the pack. Thus, even on your own, you can latch onto a group and draft with them. For the Whistler Fondo last year, we had a good size group for a part of the race. Towards the end (with the more substantial elevation gain), the pack split apart and I was cycling by myself or with one or two others as finding a group of roughly the same pace was harder to come by.

Also, if you end up by yourself, sometimes a faster pack will cycle through and speeding up to latch onto the back is a good strategy to boost your overall speed while putting out less energy.


Thanks @brianv17

Hi all Vancouverites (and riders close to Vancouver), I just checked and see that a 2019 date has been confirmed for the Valley Gran Fondo, Saturday July 20th, could be my first Gran Fondo.
Will have to think about what distance I want to do.
As I think I would like to work towards a half ironman in 2020 I may not feel the need to do anything longer than about 100KM.

Hi I have just signed up to this forum as I am considering attempting the Whistler Gran Fondo. However I am not a member if a cycle club and only cycle for leisure. I will be 58 years old in September and am reasonably fit. I intend to start training in spring by increasing bike ride durations (never done more than 26 miles in a single ride)
My question Is for those of you who have done it: is it feasible for me to attempt it or am i being plain stupid ?
Do other people enter who are not racers ?

Regardless of drafting, the key to finishing a Gran Fondo is pacing. Going out too fast for the 1st half can make the 2nd half a real struggle.

You can sometimes get carried away trying to keep up with a group thinking you are saving energy, but still going at a harder effort than you can sustain for the full distance.

You should have a target power/HR number in mind. If the group is going faster than that, drop out, ride by yourself at your target effort, and perhaps then latch on as another group comes through.

Of course you can! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Is MEC also hosting fondos in Vancouver this year? They’ve been doing this for the last two years in Calgary and Edmonton and I know a few back east as well.
Entry fees are cheap in comparison to other Fondo fees and they are still fully supported.

MEC normally have a bunch of 100k Century rides each year around May, June and Sept. If you go to their Events site they are usually listed there.

Here’s a bunch of other rides you might be interested in for the area (I’ve listed the max distances but shorter options are typically available):

Date(m/d/yyyy) Event(distance)
4/6/2019 Pacific Populaire (100km)
5/4/2019 Ride for Water - gravel (142km/66km)
6/8/2019 Rotary Ride for Rescue - Cypress mtn (15km)
7/14/2019 Penticton Gran Fondo (160km)
7/20/2019 Triple Crown for Heart - date to be confirmed (125km)
7/20/2019 Prospera Valley Gran Fondo (160km)
8/11/2019 Glotman Simpson Cypress mtn Challenge (12km)
8/17/2019 Tour de Victoria - Ryder’s (160km / 140km)
9/7/2019 Whistler Gran Fondo (122km)

Some of the local clubs also do day trips to Mt Baker (Glotman/Bicicletta). Bicicletta also do social Wednesday evening rides around Stanley Park from about beginning of May onward (3 groups…fast/medium/slow). Most of the clubs do something similar during the week. And there are various ‘My First Fondo’ clinics offered both through the Whistler Fondo group and others.

If you have never ridden in a group, it is worth learning to do that because apart from making it easier to do the ride, is also safer for you and those around you if you know what you are doing…learning to draft safely, not looking at the wheel in front but over the shoulder of your cycling colleague; taking turns at the front and pacing that instead of taking off like you stole the bike; splitting off and rejoining the group…communication is key…hand signals, etc.

And 2019 is a special year for the Whistler Fondo…this year the top 25% (I think) of each age group finishers qualifies for the World UCI Fondo which is coming to Whistler in 2020.


Exactly what I’m gunning for!

Warm-up “race” is going to be the Tour de Victoria, two weeks before the Whistler Fondo.
(I’ll be spending July/August indoors doing the Rolling Road Race plan…how messed up is that?!)


Same quote, new post because I want the alert vs just editing my previous post.

Because of this unique feature – top 25% auto-enroll to Worlds – I think it’s probably safe to say that the 2019 WGF is going to raced rather than ridden. So if you’re basing your goal time off of previous years, I would up that goal by 10%, probably much more if you are in one of the lower aged groups which might contain actual pro riders.

Just a thought so we don’t get caught out on the wrong side of the split!

Personally, I’ll probably shoot for 4 hours.
(Only 40 guys in my AG made the 4hr mark. Yikes!)

(One thing I’m still unclear on for the qualifier – is it the GF 122k or the Forte 152k that you have to do?)