David Fayram knows the road biking course in the annual Ski to Sea Race.
Inside and out, backwards and forwards, the good the bad and the ugly — he has quite literally seen it all.
Fayram has raced in the road bicycling leg 32 times over the past 38 years. He even helped organize and stage the leg for a few years in the 1980s.
And his two favorite years of Ski to Sea are opposite in terms of race results.
One favorite came in the mid ’80s. Fayram had been cycling competitively and was using Ski to Sea as a training ride to prepare for his next race. That year his team finished in the top five overall and won the Whatcom County Division.
You could say that team went out on top.
“That team folded the next year and all of a sudden I had no team,” Fayram recalled.
So he took a year off, but the next year decided to take the initiative and put together a team of his own.
He reached out to some administrators at St. Luke’s Hospital and organized a team made up mostly of weekend warriors who thought competing in Ski to Sea sounded like a fun thing to try. Some of his teammates were relatively new to their leg of the race.
That team finished third-to-last overall, but Fayram said it was still a rewarding experience. It showed him the purpose of the race.
“That opened my eyes to that perspective, that it’s just for fun,” he said. “There are teams that bring in pretty serious racers from high levels, but when it comes down to it, whether you’re winning or you’re third from last, the idea is to have fun.”
Fayram finds his enjoyment of Ski to Sea in the road biking leg. If fact, the 65-year-old has never competed or helped organize any other leg in his 32 years in the race.
This year he will compete for the First Congregational Calorie Burners, not surprisingly as the team’s road biker.
Over the years, Fayram has gotten to know the course as well as the back of his hand. He can tell you exactly how the route has changed over the years, and show you the point where the weather warms up descending from the Shuksan Department of Transportation shed to Riverside Park in Everson — except, of course, for the few years it doesn’t get warmer.
“The worst weather I’ve seen in the race was one of the years I organized the leg,” he said. “It was raining like crazy, and I got to where it usually warms up, and it started to hail. It was in the mid-30s and my legs were turning blue and hail was bouncing off them, and all I could do was laugh because I was so cold and miserable.”
That wasn’t the only time body parts have turned colors on the road biking leg. Two years ago, Fayram recalled, he saw bikers with blue lips as they waited for their relay partners to make their way down the mountain.
He usually catches a ride up Mount Baker Highway with his team’s skiers and runner, as Ski to Sea suggests, but then he ends up waiting as much as four hours in the cold for his turn to compete.
“It’s kind of lunatic,” Fayram said. “A lot of people don’t realize the bikers are up there early and sitting around in the cold for a long time.”
This year, with only two running legs before the road biking leg, cyclists should have a much shorter wait time.
But cold or warm, on a fast or slow team, Fayram knows to just have fun and enjoy the ride.