I have been sick or injured for most of the year and it’s been all I can do to keep motivated. I came into this year with massive goals and found myself having to cross them out one after another rather than checking them off. I feel like I’ve been trying to row a boat while dealing with it taking on water since April as I have been spending just as much time getting healthy as I have been trying to get fit.
First it was the flu. Then just as I thought I had broken that and started training again the stomach flu hospitalized me in a hurry. Then I tried to ease back in with a fun mountain bike ride that ended up in a hip injury. And my latest woe, one of the most difficult to manage, knee problems and imbalances that resulted from trying to manage training with the hip injury. The worst part was each villain showed its face just before or during the biggest races and goals of the year. To find myself saying that BC Superweek was a goal felt like I had resorted to Plan F for the season. Little did I realize how prestigious, beautiful, organized, and exciting that week of racing is and how I somehow managed one of my biggest results in racing by the time it was all said and done.
Up until BC Superweek I had only been able to ride about seven hours a week. For most riders that’s less time spent on the bike than one spends on a rest week. With tendonitis in my knee, anything longer than an hour was risking a sunken ship. Most of this time was spent on the Hellyer Velodrome training and racing on the track or using TrainerRoad on my Wahoo Kickr. Controlled environments where I could focus on intensity and form and just get the work done while eliminating as many variables from training as possible and wasting no time.
To say I was confident headed to BC Superweek was laughable. I was determined as hell to make something happen, but I knew I could show up and have my knee flare up. I was just as confident I could be spending the week laying on Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver working on my tan while watching people play beach volleyball.
My first ride in almost a month with no knee pain was the openers I performed the day before the week of racing kicked off. Most of the racing for Speedweek was only an hour long with incredible intensity. Yeah, I probably lost some endurance in the weeks and months leading up to this race, but the leg speed and intensity was there. I told the guys from the beginning that anything short of leaving BC Superweek with a podium result was a failure and I was going to do everything I could to make it happen. Now I was confident.
I’m going to fast forward to the eighth and final race in the ten day series since it’s my story and I could write a novel about each day. We got very close many times in the first seven races. Some guys on our squad got the best results they’ve ever had and we almost got the lead-out train dialed only to see a few too many wheels cross the line ahead of ours in a number of races.
The final event was a 134km circuit with larger circuits to start ending on a smaller circuit in the closing kilometers in White Rock, BC for the Peace Arch News Road Race. It’s touted as “one of the most challenging road races in the Pacific North West” and is “one of the longest standing races in North America.” I had spent the rest of BC Superweek in a support role and was now expected to take my shot in an event where sprinters were eliminated early on due to gravity on the rollercoaster through the neighborhoods of White Rock and attrition whittled the race down to a select group of about fourty riders with about fourty kilometers remaining.
I raced a little more aggressively than I should of, half expecting my lack of saddle time would catch up to me. I had an equal partner in ambition with teammate Chris Harland-Dunaway and knew that at worst I was setting him up, but at best hoping I could sneak away from the shattered field. I was never given much of a leash and then Chris H-D pulled out his playbook from the previous year and launched his attack at the beginning of the closing circuits. It was a gutsy move and caused all sorts of reaction in the remainder of the group. Chris and his breakaway companions were in chase of 2 riders who had gotten away before the circuits but with other team’s tactics and a blistering effort, the hot day had burned them up and a reshuffle would happen.
I saw the hesitation ahead and bridged the gap solo to the Chris H-D breakaway just to have the peloton chase it down within a lap.
I attacked again setting up a counter attack over the hill on the backside of the circuit. Now I was staging my next effort in a pack of probably 20 guys coming through the start-finish. I knew I was one of the strongest guys remaining but I didn’t know how some of the other well-known powerhouses were doing.
I attacked through the start finish and was immediately chased by the remaining powerhouses in a small strung-out group. The teammates of teammates were now all shelled and it was mano a mano a mano…. It was time to attack.
I used momentum from the back of the group after I was reeled in to take off in time trial mode with my fore-arms placed on the handlebars and hands interlocked with my head down.
By the time I got to the back side of the course and hit the hill I was alone with a thirty second advantage on the chase behind me. I still had to go around the circuit two more times by myself alone if I was going to make it to the finish. The two leaders had three minutes but this was my race winning move. To place third place in this race at this junction in the race and in my “career” would be better than any win I’ve had prior. I had director’s from other teams cheering me on along the backside of the circuit and my teammates on the sideline along the start finish screaming sweet nothing’s to me. I was determined and confident and held my gap for the remaining 10km and crossed the line probably celebrating just as much as the winner Ryan Roth did. Third place and a long awaited return to the podium after a challenging season for myself and a successful campaign for the team.
Turns out all the the time spent on the track set me up well and it’s likely that the new found discipline is probably what got me through the hard times this season. Each time I practiced or raced on the track I accomplished small goals which kept me mentally strong as I found myself creating bigger goals. After BC Superweek I returned to Hellyer Velodrome to win the NorCal District Championship Points Race to add to the Individual Pursuit District Championship I had won earlier in the year.
With five months experience at the track I planned a trip to the Trexlertown Velodrome in Pennsylvania to compete in the Track National Championships. From beginner track sessions on a borrowed bike to racing against Olympic hopeful Bobby Lea for a stars and stripes jersey, I had created a fire that kept me burning across disciplines. I wrapped up my Nationals experience with two 4th place results in the finals for the Individual Pursuit and the Scratch Race. I qualified for the Points Race final but travel arrangements and rain delays kept me from taking a shot of a first year Nationals medal. This whole experience was made possible through Jakroo clothing and the #JakrooTrack team that sponsors both the road team and helped me on this new journey.
That about sums up how things can change quite dramatically when you stay persistent and determined. Opportunity is always available and the avenues to find it are numerous, but putting in the work when it’s hard to and when it’s hard to know what for, takes a lot from within and from the support around you. I’m a stronger rider and person from the ups and downs of cycling and I’m pretty luck to have a support group of riders, sponsors, and friends through the H24 cycling team to keep me going. “What’s next?” becomes a little more exciting with each obstacle and success.