An accomplished mountain bike and Nordic racer, Dave Burch knows as well as anyone what a recreation mecca Whistler is. In fact, it's an important part of his day job just to make sure people know exactly that.
"I promote it every day; almost every conversation I have has an element of biking to it," said Burch, a Whistler-based real estate agent. "There are so many facets to it and it has such a draw in Whistler, so I'm talking about it daily. I love it, and it's one of the main reasons I live here."
So with one of the province's premier cycling events, the second annual GranFondo Whistler, finishing in his own backyard on Sept. 10, Burch felt compelled to take part in this year's race after sitting out in 2010.
"I enjoy road biking, but the appeal really is the team element," said Burch. "It's being a part of Team Whistler and doing this event as a team, and another one of the appeals is finishing in Whistler. It's the best place on Earth, it's going to be a big party. I've got so many friends and clients that are doing it, so that's just another reason to be involved.
"It's an amazing event and I did kind of feel like I missed out last year. It's a unique opportunity to be able to ride your bike on the Sea to Sky Highway with a lane closed. It's one of the most beautiful roads in the world."
Burch will be the first to tell you that mountain biking is his first passion. A quick look at the results of the weekly WORCA Toonie Rides is a testament to that, as he's usually up among the top finishers. More recently, Burch took on Friday's (July 15) Fat Tire Crit that kicked off Kokanee Crankworx, rubbing shoulders with a number of the planet's top riders.
Although the majority of Burch's cycling success has come off-road, Team Whistler manager Tony Routley has no doubt that the 36-year-old will be an important addition to this year's GranFondo team.
"Dave is a very strong rider," said Routley. "For the team, we're looking for Dave to be out there with his nose in the wind, helping us all get to the line as quick as we possibly can. He'll be an integral part of the team."
Burch, who said it's been a couple of years since his last road event, acknowledged that there aren't many similarities between tackling single-tracks and pedaling on pavement.
"There are some, but really not many," he laughed. "Other than turning the pedals over and having time on the saddle, it's quite different.
"But, I've road raced and I've raced a lot, so I'm not worried about making it. It does take some specific training on a road bike to be able to race on the road, so I'm going to have to put in some three-hour-plus rides on a road bike to be able to contribute to the team in the race."
And contributing to the team will be his primary focus when the GranFondo Whistler kicks off in downtown Vancouver a few weeks from now.
"I'm not going into this with a real individual goal, it's more about what the team wants," said Burch. "But I do want to finish strong and hopefully contribute to the overall team placing."
Dave's Favourite Training Ride: "One of my favourites would be from Pemberton to D'Arcy and back and I'd probably add in a few Duffey Lake climbs, because you can get a 4,000-foot climb, which is going to help a lot."
Dave's Race Tip: "A lot of riders creates a lot of rider interaction. If you're new to riding in a group, get out and ride in larger groups and get that experience. It will probably help for safety and help you relax during parts of the race where there are lots of people around you."