VanFondo attracts hordes of cyclists for a recreational ride without a time clock
It may have been the largest gathering of cyclists in Vancouver history.
This morning, I was among approximately 1,000 bike riders in the parking lot outside the Molson Coors brewery on West 1st Avenue for the VanFondo.
The 44.5-kilometre recreational ride was organized by Comor—Go Play Outside, with all the proceeds going to the Canuck Place children's hospice.
The minimum entry fee was $10, and cyclists rode over the Burrard Bridge, through Stanley Park, and back across the bridge to Point Grey and the northern part of Dunbar. From there, they travelled across the city around False Creek, through the Downtown Eastside, and along Burrard Inlet before returning to the brewery parking lot.
"We tried to set it up so that we have people riding at a very leisurely pace if they choose to to do, and people can ride at a faster pace," Comor owner Paul Player told the Straight before the event. "Now our fast pace is not going to be a race pace. It's just going to be a stronger recreational pace versus a more casual or leisurely pace for those who might be on a cruiser bike or mountain bike or city bike."
Fondo-style events have been popular in Europe for a few years. At the VanFondo, cyclists could join different groups, depending on how fast they wanted to ride.
"You'll notice this event isn't timed," Player noted. "There is no time clock. When people get to the finish line, there will be no winner."
Paul Player talks about the VanFondo's appeal for recreational cyclists.
Comor has been in the ski and snowboard business for 40 years. In 2012, it has ventured into the bicycle business in a big way, offering full-service shops.
Player explained that he preferred to let people know about this by holding the VanFondo rather than announcing a big sale event at his stores.
One of the company's spokespeople, Dave Narona, is a well-known B.C. bike racer and adventure athlete—and he acted as the master of ceremonies at the VanFondo.
Dave Narona describes the VanFondo route.
Below, you can see some of my snapshots before the start of this year's VanFondo.