Vancouver's August Hill Climb Challenges

Posted by Born North America Admin on

We’re preoccupied with Mountains at BORN NA Headquarters. As cyclists, it’s very easy for us to be so. Based out of Vancouver BC, we look out across the Vancouver Harbour and are greeted by literally well over a dozen separate mountain peaks within the North Shore Mountains. We’re not preoccupied with the mountains because of their rugged, raw beauty (though, they do steal our attention for that) but because as cyclists, we’re uniquely drawn to challenging ourselves uphill. 

Challenge, is a theme for Vancouver in August. Within seven days sight of each other, there’s two different mass-start Challenges on offer to see how you measure up against your chums and Vancouver Cyclists at large. Each of Vancouver’s challenges features a world class climb right at our doorsteps. World class is really no joke, on paper the Seymour Hill Climb segment on Strava is very similar to the ‘Huez Final’ of Tour de France fame, save the elevation that the Huez climb begins at.

It’s not unusual for cycling clubs to become preoccupied with going up, in the UK the Cataford Cycling Club lays claim to the world's oldest continuous bike race, their hill climb’s first event ran in 1886. The Cataford Club’s event is held after the bulk of the road racing calendar is complete, as to not interfere with racer’s schedules. Vancouver’s no different with it’s back to back weekends of climbs, though ours have a bit more length than Cataford’s course record time of 1 minute, 46.7 seconds. 

Another good reason for Vancouver’s Hill Climbs to be late in the season, is they’re put on by two of the Lower Mainland’s biggest cycling clubs. Glotman Simpson Cycling and Escape Velocity. Both clubs are busy all summer long between organizing group rides and bike races, supporting race teams and very often racing themselves. It also has the bonus of encouraging participation without fear of negatively affecting someone’s training. 

Glotman Simpson Cycling (GS) takes care of the Cypress Challenge, now in it’s 12th year, the Challenge has been around for longer than even Strava. Strava may have changed the face of Cycling forever with it’s Segments, but the Glotman Simpson Cypress Challenge has impacted the community and the lives of those living with Pancreatic Cancer. The event is responsible for raising almost 3 million dollars for the BC Cancer Foundation. 

The Cypress Challenge manages to bring over 600 athletes to the mountain to raise money and test themselves. And while the last few years at the starting line, the organizers assure everyone that the event is not a race, there seems to be some pretty fast athletes fighting over a Polka Dot jersey awarded at the finish line. The fastest QOM time on Strava is still held by GS Cycling member Morgan Cabot from 2015’s particularly fast Challenge, and until the KOM-Thieving Cycling Celebrity Phil Gaimon came through Vancouver recently, the KOM’s were also from that same 2015 event. 

If the riders weren’t tired enough from Cypress, one week later is the Seymour Challenge. The Seymour Challenge has a long history in Vancouver. According to the event’s organizers Escape Velocity, racing up Seymour has been happening since 1966, though not continuously, this year will be the Seymour Challenge’s 39th year running. Not that EV is bragging, they aren’t officially a rival club of Glotman Simpson, but Ryan Cousineau has been quoted as calling them ‘Frenemies’ while boasting that his club's climb is better.

All jokes aside, the Seymour Challenge is now also a fundraiser, designed to benefit Escape Velocity's DEVO program. If you’re from Vancouver you’d be familiar with their bright green jerseys, Cannondales and the high numbers of youth riders and racers at every event you go to from crits to gravel to the boards of the velodrome. 

The caliber of riders setting times during the Seymour Challenge is high as well. Last year’s challenge saw Alexander Fraser Maraun set a new KOM by just under two minutes. Of course, Strava’s Cookie Monster Gaimon, also stole that KOM only 17 days later.

Regardless of the reason you’re looking to challenge yourself in Vancouver this August, it’s very refreshing to have options to come together with your community to challenge each other, but also support some great causes. So when you’re at the top of your challenge you can look out over the skyline feeling good about your sore legs.

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