Thunderous Call Ups

December 11th, 2011:  After a long but “interesting” day on the Greyhound bus, I arrived back in Canada after 2.5 months of hard zone 2 training in Walla Walla, Washington. Although not quite home, staying the night in Vancouver on a friend’s couch, I head down to the coffee shop to find some internet.  Breathing in the fresh winter air and squinting against the rising but low-angled sun, my ‘greyhound’ lungs clear and my eyes gently tear.  Starting to feel human again now two days after my last real training session, I’m optimistic that I can bounce back from tomorrow’s dental surgery. It will be an operation that will pull me off the bike for 3 weeks, an operation that has single-handedly structured my entire off-season. My career depends how well I come back from tomorrow and how efficiently I can regain my fitness in January.

The thin paper cup of hot chocolate cradled in my hands gently burns my finger tips, and tingles against the roof of my mouth as I take the first gulp of ‘comfort’ food in months. Becoming lost in the over-sized leather seats adjacent to the cafe’s fireplace, I settle in and let my shoulders and low back slouch into the plush support. Wrapped under a thick winter top and covered by a grey toque, knowing that two months of hard work is “in the bank”, I relax and exhale.

Opening my laptop I surf through the usual social media and cycling news articles. The “regular” articles are there, scandal and words larger than legs. Then I see it! Gastown returns! Global Relay is pumping a big interest into our sport! Immediately I email my teammates…”WE HAVE TO GO TO THIS RACE”.
The next day I went into surgery with a goal, a goal made even more crystal clear by the news that Gastown, the biggest 1 day race in Canada, would return after a four year hiatus: I would be the national champion come its start line. #make it so.
BC Superweek 2012: Gastown GP: 30,000 spectators + 25 year race history = Best Call Up of my Life

Home Race

I’ve been extremely fortunate to race at many different venues across North America over the past 3 years, but there is something special when the ones you care about the most are right there on the sidelines. Instead of guestimating the intensity of the closing laps, the thunderousness of the crowd’s cacophony, or the oppressive heat of the sun through the wonderful albeit stifled experience that is online-streaming and/or television coverage, a home race provides the chance to connect and translate just how amazingly complex and interesting this whole sporting thing can be. It makes you want to push the limits even further.

Whether it is that quick moment to make a funny face as you pass by, or the increased pressure to leave everything on the course and achieve a worthy result, the pressure of home is a powerful performance enhancer. But just like anything though, it can overcome the unconditioned. Touching back on a mentality I first discussed at Cyclingintoque way back when, if you are confident that you are doing the right thing at every given moment, then there is no anxiety, only an open door to walk through. Of course at a bike race, those doors take you into larger and larger rooms filled with physical pain, but eventually you hope their is a finish line and maybe a beer awaiting you.

However the question remains not if you’ll make it to the finish line, but when you do that you cherished the journey as much as the summit. So take a breathe, relax, tuck down and enjoy that leadout because before you know it it’ll be your turn to lead and the finish line will come and go and journey might be over before you even noticed.


brenco-2012   leadout