IRONMAN in Pemberton
Photo by Dave Steers
In 2013, Pemberton hosted the road cycling portion of the Ironman race. Cyclists raced the entire Sea-to-Sky route, then through Pemberton and on through the Pemberton Meadows.
The 112-mile race is scheduled again for 2016. IRONMAN Canada has gone above and beyond expectations and has definitely enhanced awareness of cycling in Pemberton. Training through the meadows is now “on the map” and more and more cyclists are making the extra 32 kilometre trek north to discover not only the meadows, but also the road to D’Arcy along highway 99 north through the Lil'wat nation.
Road Bike Training Routes
Pemberton is fast becoming known for its road bike training routes, which offer a little bit of everything as you ride out from the Village of Pemberton. As Dean Linnell, local real estate agent and avid road cyclist notes: "It's a perfect hub to ride from." There are routes in each direction, ranging from the flat and open Pemberton Meadows road, to the curvy, slightly dangerous D'Arcy road, north on highway 99 from Pemberton Village, to the route south on highway 99 to Whistler (or Squamish) and back.
The route to Whistler gains 300 meters elevation which can be a bit of a hike going to Whistler, but coming back, it's a nice easy downhill ride.
IRONMAN Athletes Live Here!
There is quite the cadre of local IRONMAN athletes who have garnered this title and train here regularly: Nancy Johnston, Paul Vacirca, Paul Nicholas and Christine Cogger have all earned the right to call themselves Ironmen.
Christine Cogger took the time to speak to local writer Lisa Richardson about racing the Ironman, training in Pemberton, and her love for this area. We encourage you to click through and read the entire interview, but in a nutshell, Christine is enthusiastic about training in Pemberton. Especially for the road cycling part of the Ironman triathlon.
For Christine, training in Pemberton is pretty awesome:
"Other than the lack of places to swim, I love it. We may be a bit limited in the road rides what we can do, but the ones we do have present variety and you can always hop on a mountain bike for even more options. I absolutely LOVE running in Pemberton, specifically on the trails. We've been known to get in longer road runs by getting dropped off at the end of the Meadows road and running back to town. In January."
And living here, amongst true world-class athletes?
"There aren't many places in the world where your neighbour is a pro-[insert sport here] or a retired (or current!) Olympian. Add to that the fact that my mission for years has been to try to keep up to people like Greg Sandkhul (who races in the 60-65, or is it 65-70 age category) - he beat me by 8 minutes in my last IRONMAN, I think. How can you not be inspired?"
Riding and Training Safely
One thing to keep in mind while training in the Pemberton area is road safety. Although this is a concern anywhere, Pemberton presents different issues than a more urban area. The road to D'Arcy holds wild horses and cows, as well as a winding road that can be hazardous if you are not careful while riding.
The Pemberton Meadow Road is a gorgeous wide open flat ride, but cyclists need to be aware that this is working farmland. Especially in summer months, farmers are busy, and their farm equipment is often sharing the road with other vehicles and road bikes. It is important to use good sense when sharing the road. There is a volunteer group called The Sea to Sky Road Cycling Collaborative which is concerned with cyclist road safety in the area. Download the Road Cycling in the Sea to Sky brochure for tips and details about cycling safely!
Check out this 5:04 minute video for a review of the 2013 IRONMAN Canada bike course including Whistler and Pemberton. References to the Pemberton section of the course starts at 3:13 minutes in the video.