Gone Postal: The Toonie Ride, or Is It Race?
As a young (and mostly arrogant) rock climber I had two mottos when it came to my warm-up routine:
1. Less talk, more rock. And,
2. Less stretching, more climbing.
Fortunately, as I have aged and had my ass handed to me more than I care to admit, most of my rock climbing arrogance has been beaten out of me and I now approach each climb with a little more humility. I’ve also learned that “less stretching, more climbing” is not a motto old guys can live by unless I plan on weeks of recovery time and using the walls to balance walking up the stairs to my bedroom. As it turns out, stretching is actually good for you and, at the ripe old age of 33, I can now nearly touch my toes.
So, with this in mind I showed up to my first ever WORCA Toonie Ride assuming there’d be a group of hardcore dudes in spandex enjoying a group stretching session. I was wrong. There was, of course, spandex and hardcore but there was very little in the way of stretching or warm up…just a lot of talk and high fives, people were there to have fun.
Being my first race ever (it’s called a “ride” but with that many people all going the same direction, it’s a race!) and never even riding a real mountain bike trail before, I had no idea what to expect. I assumed the course would land somewhere between cycling the Valley Trail and Crankworx and, while the course ended up being closer to Valley Trail, I felt like a Crankworx hero!
Admittedly, I was a little nervous showing up for the Toonie Ride and if it hadn’t been for my friend Jason twisting my arm to go, I’m not sure I’d have went. Everyone had these really fancy bikes and jerseys and tech talk and, I knew before I went, I was going to feel out of place. My bike is a 15 year-old hardtail hand-me-down bike that a buddy gave me which, if you must know, pedals, rolls, and usually stops. At the beginning of the race during the rolling start I actually heard two dudes behind me talking about my bike and laughing!
I’d show them.
I surged forward to get away and was immediately confronted with the warm-up, a long hill climb meant for spacing out the crowd. I zigged and I zagged passing people on the right and left, the race was on and at very least I was going to beat those two guys who were laughing at my bike. Finally, we hit some mellow single track, I rode across my first ever boardwalk, and everyone settled into a rhythm and pace. The course was so much fun and, for a beginner, totally negotiable.
Eventually we turned onto a trail called “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and my thought was “Is this all you’ve got, WORCA?! I’m crushing this course.” Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, and finally we turned onto another trail called “The Torture Never Ends” which corresponded exactly with when I wanted to puke – my legs and lungs were on fire! Thankfully, I knew my $2 entry fee covered après at the Longhorn later so I kept pedaling through the torture. Worse than my lungs screaming at me, though, I’m pretty sure those two laughing dudes passed me.
Oh well, we’re all just here to have fun, right?
And it was fun, super fun! Talking to people on the trail, riding together, and the always-smiling course marshals encouraging us on…it was really good. Eleven kilometers after the ride started most of us crossed the finish line, everybody was high-fived, and most headed over to the Village for après at the Longhorn. Not a bad consolation prize for not coming in first.
The post-race BBQ line-up was still going strong when we finally bailed around 9:30pm but I need to give huge props to the Longhorn staff for serving so many hungry mountain bikers. The burgers were tasty, tasty! Thanks also to Mike from Back In Action for the water bottle, the friendly chat, and being one of those smiley course marshals (I think Back In Action sponsored the race, too!). It was a really fun event and I’ve now drank the WORCA kool-aid; Thursday night Toonie Rides just made my weekly to-do list. Now, if only I can find a good used (read: CHEAP) mountain bike and I’ll be golden.
See ya next week WORCA!
WORCA is the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association and is an integral part of the Whistler mountain bike community. They maintain hundreds of kilometers of trails, work for sustainability, and generously give back into the mountain bike community through programs & clinics teaching safety, etiquette, and technique to cyclists. To find out more about WORCA or to purchase a yearly membership, check out their website.
Photos by NickThomasPhotography.com