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Riding the Penticton Gran Fondo even though the race was cancelled

Last year an injury kept Luis Gonzalez out of the Penticton Gran Fondo 160-kilometre bicycle race.

This year, all healed up and ready to ride, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a spanner into the spokes of everyone wanting to ride in the annual event.

Everyone except Gonzalez who decided if he couldn’t go to the race, he would bring the race to him.

“I still trained for it,” Gonzalez said. “As the days were approaching I was looking for something to do and I figured out a way to do this event with a smart trainer.”

A smart trainer is a machine that you can hook up to a regular bike, indoors, that will simulate outdoor terrain by increasing tension on inclines and releasing it on downhill portions.

“What I was able to download a file and recreate the Penticton route, metre by metre,” he said. “Every single nook and cranny was there. The resistance keeps changing and you have to be shifting. I actually completing the event in my basement.”

It took him six hours and 28 minutes to complete the course, with an 18-minute break.

As much as he concentrated on cycling, he was motivated by something else as well.

“Don’t let COVID-19 get you down,” he said. “There are ways to stay motivated, to still do something.”

And he got some of that motivation from a friend and fellow Wheelin’ Warriors of the North team member Scott McWalter. When Gonzalez had to back out of the race last year, due to injury, McWalter rode in his place. When he returned, McWalter gave Gonzalez the jersey from the race and said he would have to compete next year … this year. So he did.

Gonzalez is a novice cyclist, only starting to ride a couple of years ago to get in shape.

“I ended up losing 50 pounds,” he said. “I just started eating better, going out a little more and it’s impressive what somebody can do.”

And, if the Penticton Gran Fondo is on next year, he’ll be riding in it.

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