A Non-Racer’s Perspective of The GranFondo Whistler

One of the famed events of Whistler is the 122-kilometre, GranFondo bike race. This race begins in Vancouver, winds up the Sea to Sky Highway, and ends in Whistler Village. While this race brings some of the top bike athletes from all over the world, there are plenty of people who take part in this race purely for the experience. It just so happens we have a Whiski Jack team member who has done just that – go along for the ride!

The Course

While there are several options available for the GranFondo (55 / 122 / 156k) the main event is the point-to-point from Vancouver to Whistler (122k). This is an incredible opportunity to bike the famed Sea to Sky Highway closed to traffic, the only time of the year you can do this! Starting out in Stanley Park as the sun is starting to rise, the thousands of racers create an electric atmosphere that’s difficult to put into words. Big smiles, a smidge of nerves, and an MC to get everyone pumped – you’ll never forget this feeling. As you cross over the Lions Gate Bridge, you won’t believe your eyes as you glance north and see the coastline you’re about to embark on.

The 122k is filled with epic scenery, all the way to Whistler. Just to name a few, you bike past the beauty of the Howe Sound decorated with islands, the towering Stawamus Chief, Tantalus Mountains, Shannon Falls, and so much more. You’ll get several glimpses of the Black Tusk, and as you start to approach Whistler, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains will start to come into view, and you’ll know you’re on the home stretch to Whistler Village.

The Experience (from the back!)

As we mentioned, this world-renowned race brings in top athletes from all over the world, but there’s a sizeable crew who’s there to experience the ride from Vancouver to Whistler. When else can you bike from Vancouver to Whistler, car-free?! Up front, you’ll find crits and serious road bikers looking to better their times. However, at the back of the pack, you’ll find a group of athletes who enjoy the race at a slower pace. While the vibe is obviously more chill, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy. The course is admittedly difficult with 122k of hilly terrain and 1900m of elevation gain over the several hours of pedalling. Make no mistake, whether you want to push-it at the front or take it slower in the back, this is definitely a race to train for!

If you decide to train for the GranFondo but want to take it at a more enjoyable pace, we can assure you the hype is real in the back. People are generally amping each other up for the day, cheering each other on, and swapping bike stories along the way. If you’re a social mountain biker, this will be a small slice of heaven. One of the most enjoyable aspects of taking this race at a chill pace is the ability to take it all in. As mentioned, the scenery will blow you away, and if you don’t push the pace, you can quite literally stop and enjoy the views. These moments, stopping for snacks, views, and photos with your friends, are memories you’ll never forget.

The Finish

As Whistler Mountain starts to come into view, you’ll feel the hype – not just from the crowds lining the highway cheering you on, but that moment when you know you’re almost there. The casual pace might pick up a bit, knowing you’re almost to the finish line, and that smile you’ve been rocking the entire ride might just get bigger. As you duck off the highway into the village, a truly electric feeling will wash over you as you approach the finish line. High-fives, cheers, and pure elation!

As you make your way to Whistler Olympic Plaza for the after-party, you’ll be greeted by friends, old and new, and loved ones joining in for the fun. The live music is rocking, the beer is flowing, and the food is endless. After a bucket-list ride up the Sea to Sky Highway, it’s time to kick back and have an equally memorable night under the summer skies & towering backdrop of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

Ready to embark on the experience of a lifetime? Enjoy the ease of walking home Saturday night from the after-party in Whistler Village at one of our nearby accommodations. It’ll be the perfect spot to rest your legs after The Gran Fondo.