It’s been so long since I posted anything. Which is a shame cuz I actually wrote several drafts last year that I didn’t get around to posting because I meant to add some photos, or edit before uploading, and then I just never got around to it. There were a few race recaps and a diary of my trip to Northern Ireland for the Giro d’Italia that I just got so sidetracked, and put off for so long, that it seemed outdated. Maybe I’ll still add them.
So what happened? What could possibly distract me from such an enthusiastic first half of the cycling season? I guess you could blame it on my love of good food! In June I finally started a project which had been a long time dream of mine… to build a wood-fired oven in my back yard. Initially I thought I could complete the job in about 6 weeks, but my wife had been on Pinterest and my original brick oven plan turned into a pretty extensive back yard makeover with an entire new patio and roof structure. Before I knew it I was getting building permits, designing trusses and demolishing barns for salvaged lumber. And the problem with concrete and masonry work, is that you can’t just put in an hour here and there. Once you mix a batch of mortar you’re committed to using it all and cleaning up afterwards. Before I knew it, all my free time was spent in my back yard instead of riding my bike and it was November before I was finished.
Ok, so back to the cycling. My second season of O Cup actually started out well. Andy had upgraded to M2 and I was on my own. It was kinda lonely as I made my way to Ancaster for the Good Friday Road Race, but I had trained hard and I wanted to be more competitive in 2014 than I was in 2013. I had joined a gym and worked hard all winter doing regular spin classes as well as cross training and resistance work. My weight always goes up in the off-season but I was on target come racing season, actually averaging a kilo less than 2013. My results were an improvement over the previous year too… finishing with the bunch in all my races, and achieving two top-ten places. I did however experience a couple of mishaps in two of the races… getting caught behind a crash at the end of the KW Classic and then crashing out in the sprint at the Provincial Sportif.
In addition to the training, I made a decision to change my goals for non-O Cup events like the Tour de Waterloo, Tour de Terra Cotta etc. Instead of doing the longer distance races and competing against the elite guys like Roth, Varabei, Fillion, Veal etc., I signed up for the shorter races in the hope of being more of a contender. I mean, come on… I’ve never even finished in the top 10 of an M3 race so it made no sense to race against Elite. It’s ok to start at the bottom and work your way up and I think that realization changed my whole outlook. My mentality was no longer to try and not lose by too much, but to try and podium. At times it felt like I was not going to get my money’s worth, or like I was swallowing my pride. I even signed up for the beginner race at the Kitchener Twilight Grand Prix, a decision that branded me a sandbagger. But up until then I had never even finished a crit… my last attempt being a waste of time and money when I drove 5 hours round trip to ride the Tom Jehlicka Memorial in Coburg. I brought my wife and four kids to cheer me on and was lapped and pulled from the race within 15 minutes. That was not fun. I want to compete and to push myself, but I also want to be able to actually race. The Kitchener Twilight crit did prove to be my best result (7th place) but it just abut killed me and I was competing against the same racers who beat me in O Cup all season long, so I’m not ashamed as long as I’m being challenged. The fact is, I’m a Master 3 rider trying to upgrade to M2… and the competition is fierce.
So now it’s 2015. I didn’t think I would race this year due to all the time I missed on the bike in the second half of last year. Plus I’m 44 years old and hurting all over… mostly because hockey is kicking the crap out of me! But there’s something about the challenge of a bike race that I can’t seem to resist. I want to improve… and I want to know if I can. And there’s really only one way to find out.