Finding Form

This blog was a way for me to record a journey that I have stepped in and out of for many years, that being, finding form. I have equated form in the past with performance, prestige and position while all that time I failed to think about happiness. A lack of personal happiness and a loss of position brought me to this place of searching.

Marriage has been a journey and it has had ups and downs. Being a father is a journey ,again, it has ups and downs. Needless to say, accepting happiness is the missing piece to truly feeling form. The selflessness needed to be a family will make you happy in the end.

I am grateful for what I have and being content is a nice place to be. My wife has been a great friend and mentor on this subject. She brought me to this very special place.

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JK

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Keith G. Kendal 7 July 1929 – 9 August 2014

“Oh great ocean
Oh great sea
Run to the ocean
Run to the sea”

One Tree Hill, U2

Today my Father passed away. I have not written much in the past year but the news of his passing was expected as he had been fighting illness for the last decade. I am grateful that my brother Keith was able to take care of my Dad and that he had him close over the past few years. The song “One Tree Hill” is a beautiful song and I thought of it this morning when I learned about my father.

Reflecting on my Dad’s life and our relationship reminds me again that family defines us. We were not a perfect family but time spent together was always special. My father never got hung up on the past and over these last few years he was very dear and he was happy to be with his sons.

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My favorite memories will be our Sunday road trips as a child, his support when I was racing my bike as a teenager and eating ice cream cones with him in Penticton during my brother’s Iron Man attempt. My Dad was a tough man and never shared many emotions but with age he showed grace and he loved us.

My father always had that hero status for me and I was quick to tell new friends growing up about his stint as a pro football player. He played in the Grey Cup in 1950. Player #71.

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I will miss you Dad and with you gone I will stand up for you and be a great father, I will stay close with my brothers and I will take care of my family.

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Reflecting on 2013

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.

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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.

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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.

Provincial IIT 2013 Miquelon

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.

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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.

Lets move,

JK

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Joy

Joy

How do you keep joy in your life? Think and act like a kid.

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a new season

Anyone looking out the window these days in Alberta is probably finding it just a little bit hard to even think about getting out to train on the bike. With just over a week from the first race and just under a month to the first stage race it has definitely been a difficult year to find a consistent training regime. One week hot and then one week cold, it is a cruel thing to do to a cyclist but that is the nature of living in Alberta. As an athlete, albeit, a mature one, finding the extra spark to get out training in trying conditions is no easy feat but our community is pretty good at motivating each other with indoor group rides and training sessions as well as giving friends an extra nudge to ride outdoors when it’s just above freezing.  Strava has also come in handy at motivating ourselves as we are able to see what our peers are doing… or not doing. Nevertheless, those first few rides of the year always (re)sparks the love of cycling and reminds us of why we enjoy the freedom to escape down the road. Independence, fresh air, meditation, anticipation, pain and suffering (think Silvertip climbs) and camaraderie with friends and team mates that is cycling.

This year I have a taken a slightly different approach as my goals are a little further out in the season and training has started late. I’ve jumped in to some extra volunteer work with the club and with the upcoming Tour of Alberta. The Tour of Alberta will be an awesome event and we have put together a strong group of committee leaders here in Canmore. Even the Town of Canmore has put their weight and support behind an event that will blow through downtown in less than 60 seconds. Perhaps we could name the downtown portion “gone in 60 seconds” but that is the nature of the sport. Lots of anticipation then fleeting moments. Our Town goes to great lengths to make things happen.

Cycling is more than just a sport, it’s a passionate group  of encouraging people. As I’m reminded that the sport has given me back my fitness and new friendships I am feeling the need to reciprocate a little bit more to the community. As for passion I must admit that with my daughter getting bigger, older and more able (independent)  I had secretly hoped that she too might become a bike racer (which she just well may in ten years) but at this point she is teaching us some great lessons about passion and anticipation, something I wish I could distill and put in my water bottle. Alison likes to ride her bike but she absolutely loves dancing and yesterday was her first ever ballet lesson. Now, she has participated in a few little critter bike races and has been pretty excited about them and the attention she gets but her excitement at those events was relative to the external experience.  Taking her to her first lesson gave me one of those opportunities that makes being a parent a blessing. Watching her having a profoundly internal experience that she was in love with the freedom of dance will never be lost on me. I guess we could say it was her new found experience of movement which is such a key element of development and personal growth.

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She will experience this in other ways and in other sports but the only thing that matters is that look on her face and her unbridled enthusiasm. It was special, it was magical and I feel blessed to have been there to see it. Moving on I am reminded that I must always try to find that sense of enthusiasm and make the world around us as awesome as possible or as Jeff from the Yoga Lounge likes to say… “Super Awesome.”

Lets move!

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Mid season race report

This is a post I started in early July but found myself distracted for the next few months.

Since coming home from the Mount Hood Stage race I avoided writing about the season to date. Results were mixed since the Velocity Stage Race and I was struggling to move along in subsequent races. Neither high nor low my June racing results started off with personal disappointment and quite a bit of fatigue. The last stage of the Banff Bike Fest was a tough slog that started at 7 am with cold temperatures and light, not to mention a driving peleton that had some serious firepower, I found myself looking for an exit. My own team drove the pace and set a high tempo that was too much for me after racing back to back weekends. I rode well the previous day with a double header of a time trial (TT) and criterium. I had a personal best in the TT and showed some panache in the crit by attacking off the front on more than one occasion which is a bad habit I have when my family is out watching. Going off the front was a reaction to show off for my daughter in the crowd and not really a smart thing to do but it was fun nonetheless.

Banff Bike Fest Crit 

Cycling is humbling. Full stop. Not everyone is going to win, the experience is generally painful… reality of bike racing so take in stride and take a few days off the bike.

After dropping out of the last stage at Banff I started a taper for the following week in an attempt to boost my form and be competitive for the Provincial Criterium and Devon Road Race. I was wiped out and resting was key. I landed up riding well in the crit but had great form the following day in the road race. We forced a split in the group and eventually road off with a group of eight riders for the remaining 80 km. Two hours of tempo riding and dealing with two groups of three team mates had me wondering what would transpire. Speed Theory launched attack after attack while the ERTC guys sat like docile pack rats. With the exception of Ben from ERTC the rotation of our small group was painful. Work or get caught by the chasing grupettos was the situation so it was work. I knew that if I played it right and backed off over the last 10 km I could probably work out a good finish. Surprisingly, the Speed Theory boys decided to start a lead out without about 4 km to go. Not quite sure why they would martyr themselves so far out I sat on the train while looking over my should and waiting for the inevitable attack from ERTC. Waiting…. waiting…. then bang. The other independent rider I was with in this group of eight launched a wicked sprint and had a large gap but it wasn’t the second train from ERTC that I expected. The Speed Theory riders were toast from their bizarre lead out and I squeezed around them with Ben from ERTC on my wheel, Ben worked hard throughout the race so I was pleased to see him ride ahead of the rest to finish on the podium.

With 800 m to go this was an excruciatingly long sprint. I could feel the lactate acid bubbling and after a 130 km I just put my head down and was mustering every ounce of remaining energy. With 10 m to go I was trying to propel my bike forward by pumping my arms to no avail. I crossed the line in second place but the effort in the race had me feeling like the victor. Even better was that we out foxed six team riders who had every opportunity to control the race and the outcome. Nevertheless, it was a great day and vindication from the Tunnel Mountain Road Race.

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Palmares

As the cycling season comes to an end I will miss the experiences of riding with a great club and with all the friends I made in the peleton. 2012 was a success and I look forward to a few more seasons on the bike. The dedication to race took a lot of time and energy but you only get out what you put in. Winning the Individual Time Trial at the last stage race of the year was a true highlight and exclamation point on the season.

Lets move!

 

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