Toon’d up!

Haha, I actually think that was kind of clever… I think I’ve been excited for the Tour de Toona ever since I saw it on our JAM Fund calendar. Even when the race got shortened from 6 days to 4, I was still excited. I wanted to work hard and build some good fitness, like Fidea riding the Tour of Qinghai Lake…

Maybe I was getting a little ahead of myself. I seem to have to keep reminding myself that I’m really still building my base fitness while many of my peers are in need of their mid-season breaks… Kind of weird…

Altoona, Pennsylvania doesn’t seem to be the most interesting place in the world, but I’m not one to complain so much as to see how other parts of the world operate and think about why and how they live. I was super excited when we rode the ITT and Crit course. It was just a cool-looking race. I also like coming to events like this where cyclists almost take over the city. It’s not really nice the way we often do it, but I do think it’s cool for the community and I hope kids see us and want to ride bikes and try out racing when they see us. I remember pre-riding the nationals course in Edmonton last year with Sarah and meeting up with Spidertech and KBS and pretty much just taking over roads with 15 people that would be sketchy with just one rider normally. This was kind of like that. I’ve experienced similar situations in Mt. Hood, Abitibi and other races as well. For a day or a weekend, I think it’s cool. I hope the communities recognize it and appreciate it and that we can turn at least one person on to cycling, if not racing!

I was also having a blast in the managers meeting, listening to the promoter and thinking about what I want to do and how I want to do things to be in cycling, to improve people’s lives and help people find cycling and have life experiences through it all. I could be a team manager, I could drive the car, I could race with my athletes, I could organize races and events, I could pass on everything I’ve learned and bring cycling to more people! That sounds spectacular!!

But back to the race. As per usual, I was over-thinking this short ITT that I wouldn’t have won or even finished in the money in, not matter how much I thought about it… So I rode a little conservatively in the tough first half, and couldn’t pedal hard enough in the technical second half. I could tell, just seconds after crossing the line, that I didn’t go hard enough and didn’t leave it all out there. I also may not have warmed up enough or hard enough, but either way, I did not leave it all out there!! 

The disappointment continued into the road race to Blue Knob. I had started to feel better and wanted to work hard and help out my team and put everything out there. I wanted to go with the early move, which proved to be a bad idea and to which Adam responded, “sometimes you don’t think”… true enough… so I go from thinking too much to not thinking at all?? Yup!!

Unfortunately, my short-lived early break got brought back on an early little climb and I just kept going backwards… oh boy! this is not good!! So of course, you chase for a while, but you don’t make any ground… now what? Turn around and pick up the car? I’m not sure where the keys are… Try and find a short cut back to Blue Knob? I guess nobody in Altoona knows what roads go where or how to get to Blue Knob… Finish the stage? I guess that’s the only way to get home…

So I finished the 117 kilometers and I uploaded my power file. Turns out I really shouldn’t have tried to go with that early move, new 5′ power in the first 20′ of “the first stage of the hardest stage race [I've] probably ever done” and the 5″, 10″, 30″, 1′, 2′, 5′, 10′, and 20′ peak powers for my day all came in those first 20′… I need somebody to call me an idiot and tell me I know better!! Because I certainly do know better!! I just sometimes think I’m better than I am or at least wish I was better than I am… I did continue to feel better and better as the day went on and actually made pretty good numbers for the day! If only I had not been dumb and just sat in the group, I probably would have been good.

I guess you just get up the next morning, put your pants on one leg at a time, learn from your mistakes and be better today! Right?

So what next?? Sitting in Starbucks with Evan, wondering what is next. Maybe Iron Hill tomorrow? Maybe New Britain on Sunday? Maybe home to Amherst? Maybe training with the JAM Fund boys? No matter what, I will learn from my mistakes, take each experience as it comes, and enjoy as much life as I can with a smile on my face as much as I can!!

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On a whim

Oh man! So hot right now!

With the Fitchburg Crit being canceled this year I wasn’t sure what I was going to do on this holiday weekend leading into the Tour de Toona. Luckily, Mr. Burkhart et al. from the bikereg.com team decided to race the Coatesville Classic Omnium. I was able to get a ride with him and stay at the home of newly crowned US Elite National Champion, Max Korus! That would also cut off a bunch of drive time on our way to Altoona, PA. And I sure do love my bike racing…

I was feeling pretty good, but up until I really started getting kitted up I had almost forgotten why I was here. I was having fun and experiencing the world and life and enjoying it, but I didn’t really feel like going to a bike race. It turned out to be quite alright, although when we got here, it was HOT!! I thought I had acclimatized myself to the heat and humidity here, but I guess not…

The crit on Sunday night started off alright. On the start line, just listening to the guys around me I got a little scared. Not because they sounded fast, but because they sounded sketchy… perhaps not unlike me at my first big crit in BC Superweek or Mt. Hood, but I knew that meant I needed to get to and stay near front early on and avoid any unnecessary braking and/or crashing.

That worked… At least until some guy crashed just going straight down the road… what’s up with that?!? I avoided it, but was off the back and didn’t think to go into the pit until after I had already gone by it… oops. So I chased and chased and chased and stayed close to the group, but was working really hard and not really making any progress. The heat was really getting to me and I figured even if I did get back up to the group, I wasn’t going to be able to do much there. So I pulled out and decided to save it for Monday’s road race. I was disappointed, especially as the race looked like it was turning out to be fun and the course was really cool.

I was feeling decent again for Monday’s road race, but I was wishing I had a few teammates. I couldn’t really figure out how the race was going to happen or how I was going to get myself a result. I decided to wait and follow Mr. Soladay of KBS and bikereg.com and Boston Bicycle School. That worked, until the break that everybody liked and the field pretty much sat up. It reminded me of nationals last year and I didn’t want to have that again, so I just went out and started working hard. Tom asked me if I was attacking or chasing, I said I didn’t really know. So we just kept turning on the front with a few other guys. Unfortunately a few more attacks came and I had already blown my whole wad. So I rolled in and called it a day.

After the race, I introduced myself to Tom and talked to him about racing, tactics, training, etc. Super nice guy!!

We got back to the Max’s house, cleaned up, and decided to head out for dinner. Evan and I had an adventure driving through Philly, getting a little lost, a little scared… but we did find some decent pizza at The Couch Tomato in Manayunk. There was no beer there though, so we walked around for a bit trying to find something. We tried to find the Manayunk Wall, but didn’t know what road it was for sure. Either way, it’s a pretty cool area. I asked Adam where the good beer was and he said we weren’t far from The Belgian Cafe, but my phone was telling me it was 20 minutes the other way. We decided to drive back and stop at a grocery store or something to pick something up. No luck at all. Dang! We did have some more adventures getting lost and scared in the city. Shoulda just gone to the Belgian Cafe…

This is a little late, but we started driving to Altoona and at the Blue Knob Ski Resort, we have no wifi… The posts will keep coming, just maybe not in such a timely manner for the next little while…

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Happy Canada Day!!

Ok, ok, I’m a little late… but what else is new?!?

Or maybe I am becoming more American and it is Independance Day tomorrow??

But it was nice to talk to my parents and hear about the Canada Day Crit that I have missed for a few years now and that was one of my first road races back in 2002!

I did get to race on Thursday night in Exeter, another new race for me and the JAM Fund boys in New England. I was excited to race and learn and have fun. Steve was kind of enough to drive me and the Evans to Bikereg-mobile. It was a cool course, with some nice tight corners, some potholes, and a little descent and climb. There were about a 100 guys and I was just excited to race. I felt good and I think we raced well as a team. There was a crash in the last corner and our lead-out didn’t quite work perfectly, but got Evan in 4th and Al in 8th. With a few primes between us too, it wasn’t a bad day.

I got to see Adam and talk to him. I realized how much I miss hanging out with him since the fall…

Sorry, maybe I’m kind of tired or maybe I forgot everything interesting about the day, but the goal is to write on here more regularly and keep everyone up to date on what’s going on in my world. So I guess that’s it for now. See you again soon.

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A Month?!?

I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a month!! It has just been crazy!! Sorry I haven’t kept you up to date, but I certainly haven’t been doing nothing… first I was busy and life was just hectic and then I started having so much stuff to tell you and didn’t want to leave anything out that I just left everything out… sorry.

But, I guess we’ll have to jump in somewhere, eh? (Yes, Evan, you can laugh at me now because I’m Canadian…). Life in Amherst, Massachusetts has been good. Everything here is pretty beautiful, kind of reminds me of Victoria, BC. Good rolling, winding (not Alberta flat and straight) roads. Trees. Farmstands. Good people. Good food. Good beer. Warm sun. Humidity. Rain. Yeah, the Pioneer Valley is good.

But what has June been like for me?? Well, Jeremy Durrin picked me up from the airport on a Thursday night, we had some fun fitting my bike box and all my other stuff in the back seat of his car. He took me to the warehouse to meet Al and get all my team stuff. It was like Christmas!!! JAM Fund/NCC Clothing, a Focus frame, FSA parts, Rudy Project helmet and glasses, Fizik saddle and bar tape, Clif Bar food, Lake shoes… yup, Christmas!!

The next day, I built my bike and went for a ride with Durrin. Luckily it didn’t feel too weird. And then I had to remember how to pack my bag for a bike race and try and get some sleep before we had to wake up early and go to the Killington Stage Race. I drove with Al, conversing with him for the whole four hour drive (Thanks Al!). The race was good, I felt comfortable and strong and fresh. My back started hurting pretty bad and about an hour and a half in, everything inside of me just shut off and I got dropped mighty fast. I wanted to quit pretty bad, but I knew that I needed the training and that I could help the team over the next 2 days. Of course, I then flatted. Now what? No more wheel cars, nothing to fix it with, hmm… I waited a for a while. Luckily, some cat 4 guys checking out the TT course had room for me and drove me back to the start, thanks guys!! Of course that meant I couldn’t finish the race. But I did ride with the guys on the pre-TT morning spin and continued on my own, doing about 4 hours along most of the road race course. And then I drove Al’s car around during the road race and did the feed zone thing. It was kind of fun, though not nearly as much as racing…

Back in Amherst, I started training in earnest. I also moved my sprawl of belongings from Jeremy’s basement with Evan Burkhart to our own rental house about 5 minutes away. The house was kind of a disaster when we first moved in, but now it’s ours. And it’s a little more comfortable. I still can’t believe it’s already been a month!

The next weekend was the Lake Auburn Road Race in Maine, and I got to see my old friends Adam and Janice!! Unfortunately when it came to bike racing, I again found myself feeling great for about 90′ and then… poof! Which meant that I spent far too much energy and had nothing left to simply finish… oops. So I wasn’t really helping the team, I wasn’t learning how to race, I wasn’t getting any training, and I was spending money… not a good combination for a poor bike racer.

The next week was full of much anguish and stress as my powertap died and I had to send it in for service (luckily Saris customer service is spectacular!!). I was heading into a big and important week of training and I hate training without collecting data (although if you’ve been coming here for a while, you probably know that), so I put on my race wheel. Two rides later I flatted and cracked the rim, which led to a very long walk/hitchhike home in the hot sun. That was followed by more anguish and a lot of unquantified, but good (I think), training. At the Purgatory Road Race my goal, and JAM’s goal for me, was to finish. Yes, that’s all. And finish I did.

Another big hard week of training led into the Housatonic Hills Road Race. I found out after the race that it’s probably one of the hardest race in New England… Oh, so I shouldn’t have done a huge week of training and only one rest day?? Suffice to say, I didn’t finish. But I did get to rebuild my powertap the day before and have the data to prove how hard the day was.

My rest week was timed well with cool and wet weather moving in. I had a great massage from Deb Augusto on the recommendation of Jeremy Powers. I was coming back to normal and getting back on top of my routine and work.

Yesterday, Evan Huff and I headed off to the Keith Berger Memorial Crit, a very fast non-technical 4-corner crit, where we raced well, but neither of us came away with a result, nor did we come home with any money.

So that’s it. My first month in Amherst with the JAM Fund/NCC team. Of course I left out many good details and all my pictures, but they will come in time. Be patient. Don’t worry. Smile. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

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Seize Life!

Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with robust heart.
Oh yes–God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neighter work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

Ecclesiastes 9: (The Message)

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Oh yeah

Nope, I didn’t forget about you. I just had some other things to do and catch up on. I was doing a lot of thinking (yeah, I know, what else is new?!?), but I’ve come to some revelations and had many brilliant ideas. Hopefully I can bring at least some of them to fruition… I’ve also been dealing with some tendinitis, setting me back about a month (not as bad as it could have been) after a much-needed reprieve. But I am back. I have a week of “training” under my belt and am on my way. I feel like I have so many things to tell you and I have no idea where to start?? I guess the beginning is a good place, eh? Let’s just say I haven’t forgotten about you and I hope we can spend more time together in the near future!

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A Creator and His Work Are One

“A great creator does not see his work as something apart from himself. What the creator makes is a statement about the creator, and a manifestation of their sensibilities, which is one with their experiences. Our modern buildings, our strip malls and stripped down buildings say of our culture we are one with efficiency, with selling goods and services. Was God being efficient when he created a woman, or was He being extravagant? Is a cloud the most efficient way to water crops, or is it functional and aesthetically brilliant? Are the sunrise and sunset more than a functional way to dim the lights?”

-Don Miller

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Ash Wednesday

James 4

Submit Yourselves to God

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

 

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My time in Belgium

Now that I’ve been home for almost 2 whole weeks, I figure I should write a summary blog post of my time in Belgium. That, and I knew Scott was going to give me a hard time at church this morning if I didn’t write this thing…

My cyclocross season was a really long one! And I am mostly glad that it is over. In 6 months, I managed 42 races covering 2 continents, 6 countries, and 8 states! Some were good. Some were bad. The results sheet doesn’t lie; I had good days and bad days, good results and bad results. But what the results don’t show is how much I learned, how much I improved. It was also pointed out to me that in some of those big races I probably had some of the rides of my life, but when those guys are so much better it can be hard to tell the difference. I also don’t want to simply ramble on about how I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to, but it’s ok because of how much I learned and improved…

I look back to when I was thinking about the opportunity to go to Ottawa, then to go to Boston, and then Belgium; Adam pointed out that I didn’t go away to school like so many people do and may have missed out on that life experience, so to think about this opportunity as life experience not unlike that of going away to school. And the simple truth is I did that. I did what I set out to do, I went to school. I know that every experience I had and every person I met will make me who I am in the future and I hope will make me a better person.

People kept asking me if I would be coming back next year. Yeah, I would like to. I would like to race the World Championships in Koksijde. But I would probably be alright if that’s not where my life took me. The things I’ve seen and done will change me forever. But simply put, I don’t want to come back to Belgium and race again at the same level. I want to do what it takes to improve and to be a much better bike racer. I want to continue to learn and always be striving to be better. I’m not sure how I will know what I’m supposed to do, but I believe it will come.

I got to do many cool things, most of which I didn’t write about on here and probably won’t make it on here now. But I got to see some WWI trenches, I got to see the Tour of Flanders Museum, I got to ride the Koppenberg, I got to see much of Europe and ride my bike on so many different roads. I got to meet so many people and had so much support I couldn’t believe it sometimes! A big thanks goes to my parents, my sponsors Cycle-Smart, Van Dessel, Verge, Lazer, Challenge, Easton, CycleOps. I also owe huge thanks to the advice and emotional support of my friends and family who talked with me, prayed for me, and just kept up with my adventures and the help and support of Adam, Carl, Dennis, Marc and Vicki, Lyne, Gabby, Hans and Jolien and family, Craig, Jeremy, Luc and Johnny, Dan, the Boulder Cycle Sport crew (+KP), Gregg and Holly, Stef, Helen, and Ian, all my other Belgian fans. I am incredibly thankful for everything I learned from you, whether you knew it or not! Thank you! I realize as I’m making this list that I have most certainly forgotten people. I don’t want to leave you out, but I think you know if you made a difference in my adventures and I thank you!

I look forward to what comes next, and no, I don’t really know what the next 5 years hold. It’s scary, but if it’s anything like the last *almost* 25 years have been, then it will be great! Thanks for listening and I hope the adventures continue and you keep reading.

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My dilemma

My dilemma is that I like nice stuff and I want to support people who do good work with good materials, who treat people well and who simply care. That’s all well and good, but sometimes I can’t or don’t need to afford to have nice stuff and support those people/companies. When and where do you sacrifice quality and care for cost?

Do you buy one pair of Naked & Famous jeans, made in Canada, sold at High Grade or do you spend half the money and get one pair of Levi’s, made in Mexico, on sale at The Bay?

Obviously I want to the Naked & Famous jeans, but do I need to afford to make that decision in this situation?

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