Whistler GranFondo – TaG Riders Donna and Ken

Donna Begg and Ken Ingram are 2 of the 29 riders who have ridden in every Whistler Granfondo since 2009 , Join them in September for one more !

DONNA’s story:

“I started riding after a ski accident in 2009. I was a runner pre-accident so I talked a few of my running group into switching over to biking. We soon realized in early 2010 that we would need some lessons if we wanted to ride on the road safely. I was told that Lesley Tomlinson, an Olympian biker, had coached bike skills to kids. Maybe she would help us – and she did!

“This was spring of 2010 – before she started her TAG cycling business. Lesley started us on the road in the Seymour demonstration forest and we progressed to the streets. We then started climbing Cypress Mountain – incrementally getting farther up the hill.

“We then heard about the 2010 RBC GranFondo Whistler. Many of us travel by car to Whistler regularly so we started to entertain the CRAZY idea of riding it. With a few Cypress rides under our belt and Lesley’s encouragement about 5 of us signed up. We stopped at every rest stop and somehow made it. In the fall of 2010 Lesley and Gina Grain opened up TaG cycling – we were their original clients. I have continued with TaG with their distance rides and cycling classes to this day

“Every year I have signed up for RBC GranFondo Whistler and have peppered it with a few other ‘fondos. I have stuck with the Whistler ride as I find the timing is perfect to keep you training through the summer biking season.

“I love the idea of a ONE WAY ride with a dedicated lane on the Sea to Sky highway. I do the Gran Fondo with friends or myself rarely riding with pelotons. I buy my entry at the Cycling BC fund raiser in October just after the ‘fondo – so I’m committed for the next year.

“Many stand out moments:

• Riding over the Lions Gate Bridge from the North Shore to the Gran Fondo start in the dark (I live on the North Shore) and having a cruise ship under us on the crest of the bridge.
• Riding back over the bridge at the start and up Taylor Way where the fans and spectators are great!!! you can talk to the ones you know as we are going so slow
• The year they had the women’s only corral on Burrard (we left after the racers and the Alta Classe) – what an enjoyable, stress free start!
• The incredibly cold year – when the rain and temperature dropped in Squamish but the finish line volunteers helped us peel off our wet things and wrapped us in foil.
• The fans in Brackendale are great – always a lift (and bacon people at the overpass!)

“I did the Gran Fondo for many years with my friend Pam. Each year I stashed water and cola in our secret place for an emergency stop (just in case). Sadly she died in 2018, but to this day I have kept the stash tradition alive and I continue to stop and use our supplies in her memory. Rest in peace, Pam.”  Donna 

KEN’S Story

“In the summer of 2010 I rediscovered cycling after 30 years of being off the bike. Shortly after, I heard the word GranFondo for the first time (or was it Gran Fondo? Granfondo? Grand Fondo?). Cycling was exploding at the time, and all the buzz about RBC GranFondo Whistler convinced me I had to do it. Although the ride was already sold out, a friend found me a spot and, in ignorant bliss, I showed up. That first Gran Fondo was very memorable, mostly for the sense that this was the beginning of something special.

“Since then I’ve done over 30 other Gran Fondos, but none compare to RBC GranFondo Whistler and its sister events [since 2010 there have also been events in Banff AB, Kelowna BC, Niagara Falls ON and Silicon Valley CA]. GranFondo moments that come to mind include the image of a sea of helmets stretching to the horizon along Georgia St. at dawn, my daughter surprising me at the finish line, and riding with the Helijet team. There was also the time I convinced the medic at the finish line that all I needed was a beer. This year I’m hoping to beat four hours (I’ve been saying that since 2011), and qualify for the UCI GranFondo World Championship in 2020.

“For those considering the Whistler GranFondo, my advice is do it. Make it your ride.” Ken