Tour of Alberta finished up a few days ago and with that started my off season. It’s a little earlier than late October, what I had become used to racing in France, but a little rest is welcome before gearing up to next year. I thought I’d share my tales from track nationals and Alberta before heading into hibernation for a few weeks.
Following Canada Games I hopped on the velodrome in Dieppe for the first time in years. At first it was pretty awkward riding a bike with no brakes and the inability to coast, but soon it came back to me and I was able to get in some decent training rides leading up to the National Championships. That all changed when Nationals actually started. When we finally got on the track after days of waiting for the weather to cooperate, it felt like I was brand new to the sport of bike racing. Track is insane. It’s so fast and technical, so much going on at once and so little time to react. It’s like the last few kilometres of a tricky road race the whole time. Needless to say, competing against an Olympian and other highly experienced track racers, I was just a novice out there trying not to kill myself or others, but it was a ridiculous amount of fun and something I’d really like to do some more of.
Photo by Don Ricker – check out all his awesome pics @ www.donricker.smugmug.com
Another pic by Don – www.donricker.smugmug.com
Following a very full day of racing at the track last Saturday (cramming the entire omnium into one day because of delays earlier in the week), I quickly packed my things and got ready for an early flight to Edmonton the next day. It was a tight turnaround to get out west for the Tour of Alberta but definitely worth it for the level of racing I would get to experience for this race. The tour featured riders such as Peter Sagan, Cadel Evans, and more of the world’s absolute best riders.
Alberta consisted of an 8km prologue in downtown Edmonton, followed by 5 road stages winding our way down to Calgary through some very long, exposed roads which surely meant the wind would be a deciding factor to the race. For the first few days of racing my legs seemed to be pretty empty, probably from a long travel day immediately following the track races. The prologue was certainly a painful shock to the system but the legs did gradually get better. Following a few very fast stages where it was mostly a lottery to find the right break, the incredibly strong winds on day 3 finally shook things up and set the overall classification. I was pretty happy to survive the first section of gale force cross winds and make it in the lead split, but unfortunately I was at the very back of this group and we would soon find ourselves fighting for every inch of road in another crosswind section. I came off the back with a small group while the race was really forming, with 18 riders going off to fight it out for the stage and the overall, taking close to 20 minutes lead as the rest of the field settled in for an easier ride to the finish.
It was disappointing to miss out on that stage and the general theme for the week seemed to see me not feeling quite at my best. At this level of racing I really needed to be at my absolute best to make the most of it, but it was a great experience nonetheless. The crowds on each day were impressive and it was really great to race at such a level in our home country.
As I said, that was my last race for 2013 and I’m now taking a little break to fully recharge before next season. I want to thank everyone involved with my season – my family, coach Brian, the Hagens Berman Cycling Team, Cycling Canada, Team New Brunswick and Global Relay for all the effort and resources they put into my goals. I’m a little sad to see the season end but certainly have some great memories and I can’t thank all everyone enough. Now I can’t wait to get things going for the 2014 season, my last as a U23 and an important year to get some bigger results.