From Guy Smith:
Helijet is now a sponsor of the Whistler Granfondo and as a consequence the Helijet employees were bumped up to Alta class. Apart from the special enclosure with unlimited free food and drink at the finish we also got a special start 10 minutes ahead of the main group (so never saw Keith). There was a good speedy group in the Alta class, and a Helijet triathlete who is at the right speed for us to ride together, aiming for 4 hours. Somewhere on the sea-to-sky we were ridden down by the main pack charging for their 3:30, and after they came through us our nice Alta pack was completely fragmented, so from then on it was in smaller groups. The weather was not great and we were all wet by now, but unlike the year before it was not so cold that we really suffered at all. Before the start I was really unsure about what to wear, but thermal undershirt, arm-warmers, leg-warmers, and the waterproof winter boots turned out to be just the right thing.
After Squamish when we hit the long climbs my Helijet colleague dropped off the pace and I rode most of the rest of the way with four guys from R and B brewing company. Eventually one of them dropped and then four of us worked together until the last 10k. Team R and B were really trying to get under 4 hours and had of course started 10 minutes after me. They miscalculated the time, decided they needed to really turn it on, and the strongest of them pulled the others to 3:52. They dropped me at this point and I finished about a minute behind them at 4:03 (there is the 10 minute start difference). Still trying to get under 4 hours, but I left it all on the road that day, and couldn’t have gone any faster at the end. Need to get younger I think. Or maybe it was the extra 200 grams in the winter boots.
We exploited the free bar and the company van took us and our bikes back to Vancouver.