For the uninitiated, a Gran Fondo is a long-distance road-cycling event that started in Italy in the 1970’s and has since become highlights of road-racing calendars the world over. And it just so happens that one of the most spectacular Gran Fondos in North America, if not the world, takes place in the Pacific Northwest at the RBC GranFondo Whistler.
On September 7, riders of all levels and abilities will line up in Vancouver’s picturesque Stanley Park and make the 122 km trek up the world famous Sea-to-Sky highway and into Whistler’s world-famous alpine village. With the turquoise blue waters of Howe Sound to the left side and the very foot of the towering Cascade Mountain Range to the right, this “big ride” offers the quintessential Canadian West Coast experience. No wonder then it has been voted North America’s Best GranFondo two years running and will host the UCI World Gran Fondo Championships in 2020. In fact, if you want to compete in those championships, you need to qualify at this year’s event.
Riders experience the iconic Lions Gate Bridge traffic free as they leave Vancouver
However, even if championship podiums aren’t exactly in your sights, the unsurpassed natural beauty of these vacation-ready destinations should be firmly so.
Gear up for the ride by spending a few nights in Vancouver, a vibrant cosmopolitan city on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. From one of many hotel options among diverse neighbourhoods, you are always mere steps from an award-winning culinary scene showcasing modern and classic tastes from around the world, urban trails and parks to explore along the beach and into old growth forests – not to mention the high class shopping to be had at low prices thanks to the favourable exchange rate. The whole family will love climbing into an aqua-taxi to cross False Creek to the artisan haven of Granville Island Market, or onto a quick shuttle straight from your hotel up to the breathtaking Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Whistler’s world-famous pedestrian-only Alpine Village
Visit the Travel & Accommodation page on rbcgranfondo.com