This vacation was original planned as an tri-fecta opportunity; visit Vancouver, meet a couple of online friends who I have known for nearly 5 years and to scope out the Ironman Canada course with a view to signing up for the 2013 race. My plans for next year’s racing season have changed but that being said I still managed to check off all three and had an absolute blast doing so.
Prior to departing I spent some time researching and purchasing bike boxes/bags to transport bikes to ride the course. I took my road bike Thor and was looking for something to cosset the precious cargo in. I finally decided on EVOC Travel Bag and purchased them through wiggle.com. So bags made in Germany were shipped from the UK to the US for a trip to Canada! They’ll be a review at some point in the future but here’s a photo of them all “bagged up”.
The flight to Vancouver was uneventful and with a quick change in Denver, passports were stamped and we were in-country. The first three days were spent mooching about Vancouver, more often than not around Granville Island and generally slowing down the pace of life. Fortunately when you travel predominantly by river taxi the pace tends to dictate itself added to which several pints of beer and numerous coffee shops the pace becomes very pedestrian…perfect!
Despite being on vacation training for IMAZ continued although it was step back week and it was a case of fitting in sessions when I could. The hotel was located very close to the Olympic Stadium from the 2010 Winter Games and there was a perfect running path along the side of the False Creek out to Stanley Park. As you can see the views were terrible.
I had a couple or runs along this path, one was an out and back and the other, my mid week long run allowed me to run all around Stanley Park and back for a total of around 11 miles. You can check out the Garmin details here and here.
I managed to get a little lost and at one point ran by a mass outdoor yoga session. As you can see Canadians are very friendly and they all stood on one leg and waved at me!
That day was scheduled to be a double so we hired bikes and…well you get the idea! Garmin data here, not the longest ride I have ever done but the first I have seen seals and yachts up close and personal.
One of the highlights was finding the Kitsilano Pool. This is a 150yard (137m) open air pool next to the ocean where you can watch the clouds float by the mountains in the distance. An amazing facility and an amazing experience!
The Garmin 910XT pool setting tops out at 100 yards so I had set it for Open Water…had a few Geographical mishaps with this as you can see, the start is way off!
The second half of the week was spent in the “interior” and after a 400km (250 mile) drive we arrived in the Okanagan Valley and specifically Kelowna where we scheduled to meet in person and stay with Barb and Erik “KelownaGurl” and “KelownaGuy”. I kid you not when I say that I have known Barb for nearly 5 years and we have spoken many times on episodes of the Runners Round Table Podcast, my podcast, through Twitter, our blogs…you get the idea! We had a fantastic home cooked meal that night and after a long drive hit the hay pretty early. The next day I assembled the bikes and we drove out to Osoyos. There were four bikes and riders in the car and Barb had offered to be a SAG wagon for the ride and might join us for some of it. Osoyos is the start of the “hilly bits” on the IM Canada course including Richter Pass, the Seven Bitches and the climb up to from Keremeos to Yellow Lake which we were told, when we stopped for a bite, was 10km…you lie Subway employee, it’s 10 miles! For anyone thinking of the race be warned that the last climb will be the one that hits the hardest, and although we made it to the lake where there was a nice parking lot to pack up the bikes etc there is another couple of miles to the absolute top.
The temperatures were significantly higher than on the coast and the forecast was a high of 36C (97f) but I managed to get away with only a bit of sunburn on one arm thanks to a liberal application of factor 50! Between us we still managed one flat tire, some Sufferlandrian Samaritan work ensued and having a track pump in the SAG wagon was a blessing! Captions please…
The next day we headed to Gyro Beach, Barb was racing in the Apple Tri on Sunday and she wanted to check out the lake’s temperatures for the swim. Eric wanted some more time in a recently won wetsuit and I wanted to get another swim in for the week at least. The lake was, shall we say; bracing but after a time turning blue, acclimatizing it was fine and I had a reasonable swim for 30 minutes. I will say that it is super clean and clear and once I got used to it was a real pleasure to swim in. After the swim, following quite possibly the slowest transition ever recorded involving going to the restroom to wash my feet we all headed out on a run, everyone doing there own thing. I had 45 minutes on the plan and so ran 3 miles out and 3 miles back…again it was getting hot so I was glad for the little shade there was.
After that we headed back and cleaned up. This was followed by a great lunch where we threw down iPhones into the middle of the table and recorded a good hours worth of chit chat and putting the world to rights! This was followed by repacking the bikes, saying our farewells and heading back to Vancouver. The next day we did…err nothing other get a big fat ass breakfast and fly home! Our bikes made it too despite seeing them drive off on the truck before they were loaded in the wrong direction…no really I wasn’t screaming out the window!
So a big thank you to our hosts Barb and Erik for a fantastic stay and to Vancouver and the Oakangan! We’ll be back!
I took a few photos…to be honest not that many but here they are!