Looking back on this past year has been top of mind moving towards winter. I’ve always found the Autumn transition to be a natural time of reflection. I was born in November and with the days greyer than most throughout the year it is generally a time to look back and assess events, experience and growth.
Finding form is about growth; personal, spiritual, physical and family. That said, where do we start? What changes do we need to make going forward? What did we do right and what did we do wrong? What and how can we be better? This past year was a good year for humility and patience.
On the cycling front I achieved a mid-life goal; Category 2 status. In the first race of the year I placed well enough to get the required points for an upgrade from Cat 3 to Cat 2. After that upgrade happened racing became more about “how long can I hang on” from how can I get to the podium. A challenge to say the least. The differences in the races from Cat 3 to Cat 2 really come from the surges in pace and trying to anticipate them. You become a lot more conservative in the peleton when you feel that you are riding to survive. Nevertheless, I found satisfaction from the Time Trial events where I could make direct comparisons to my own fitness and to other competitors. Time Trial (TT) goals are measurable. If I stay in Cat 2 in the future I will have to train more and that is really what it comes down to. How much time you have to train will directly convert to the category you are riding in. The best summary I have of racing this year would be a quick synopsis of the Banff Bike Fest criterium. From the gun the pace was in excess of 48 km/hour for the first 10 laps, I didn’t even have time to start my garmin with the pace and subsequently spent the rest of the race “chewing my handle bars.” There were some big guns at the Banff Bike Fest this year with H&R Block and Trek Red Truck driving some serious pace at the front trying to get their top under 23 rider on the podium which would then get that rider a pro contract and a ride in the Tour of Alberta. Taking the good with the bad I did break the 30 minute barrier (goal) in the Time Trial stage and had a personal best.
Riding the Lake Minnewanka Loop at the Banff Bike Fest.
One of the highlights of the 2013 cycling season was helping out our cycling club with the youth road program that we started. Being able to ride with the kids taught me to be more patient and to appreciate the love of the bike. The results our kids posted this season was a great testament to what the RMCC group has done with the “rider to racer” and “rampage” programs. That said, I was able to take it one step further on occasion and would visit my daughter’s daycare on “Bike Day” to ride with the kids. So much fun and not quite as hard as “chewing my bars” with the cat 2s.
My daughter Alison is #396 and she loves to race!
My best race came at the end of the season with the Provincial TT championships. Nothing brilliant but I rode a good program and managed to be the top placed rider from RMCC. Time Trials are an incredible event in that you are lucid, alone with your thoughts and riding completely on your limit. You occupy yourself with deeper questions as a way to work your way through and incredible amount of pain. I always love to look at the stats from the ride after the event and then compare them to previous rides. I guess its about the progress and as I get older TTs are going to be my main focus. I love getting the old diesel engine warm and once its moving its a beautiful feeling.
The end of my cycling season came with a bit of a bang, crash and boom. Some of my colleagues have been pushing to me to take up cyclo-cross for a while and I finally bit the bullet and picked up a used Ridley X-Fire. With three rides under my belt on my new machine I thought I would head out and race my first cross race. Confident in my aerobic and anearobic strengths I thought for sure I would do OK. Wow, thirty seconds in to my first race I realized that you shouldn’t sit on someone’s wheel like you would in a crit. I usually see crashes coming but this was my first hard fall in some time. Straight over the bars and down on my ribs in an instant after the rider in front of my got cut off and crashed. I could feel the hit on my ribs and then I couldn’t breathe to save my life. I had the wind knocked out of me and I did some serious damage. After screaming for about a minute and realizing that I was hurt but not going to die I got up and kept racing. My new goal was not to get lapped but my real goal was to finish. With my family watching me race I knew I had to complete the circuit. There was much humor to be found from the hecklers (who didn’t know I crashed) as I gingerly walked over barriers and gritted my teeth running up hills. For the record, I crashed three times inside of one week on a cross bike. So humbling yet still fun. The best part of the race was stopping every lap to kiss my daughter and wife. That got some funny looks and made for some good comic relief.
Gritting my teeth at the Canmore Cross Race.
Every year we need to try something new and push ourselves. Never be content to stay where you are.
“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee
Cyclocross will be a bigger part of my program as it lends itself well to a busy schedule and is a lot of fun. Having the family come out to watch is a highlight and was probably my favorite event for the year. More so because I am not very good at it which means that I can only get better.