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

A Toque Coaching Experience

To sum it up; “The Coach Who Cares”!  Every thing I read said to find a coach who cares.  Where else will you find a coach who cares about an OLD Masters rookie, has the patience to coach a novice, reads every training note you care to write, provides a weekly one on one personal training review, offers a comprehensive training philosophy and all the training plans, logs, gym workouts, stretching exercises, general health articles etc, etc etc:  It’s a long list.  And; do all of that while having a fantastic 2012 season and becoming the Canadian National Crit Champion — That would be “Coach” Ben Chaddock, Toque Coaching!


Three months of landscaping our new home in Greenville SC didn’t leave much time in my schedule for cycling this spring.  Luckily most of that was finished before the brutal South Carolina summer arrived – at the May 2011 US Pro Championship, I believe it was Quinn Keogh who described our beautiful southern weather as “a zillion degrees with a kazillion humidity”.   Since July I am back to 125 / 160 miles a week and enjoying every mile of every ride including the conquering of Paris Mountain.  Not many of those rides go by without a recollection of something the “Coach” said or did, and the habits he engrained are part of everything I do whether on the ride, in the gym, or even reading about or discussing cycling.



Just to list a few:

  • Did I get enough sleep last night?
  • Am I ready to ride?
  • Have I got the right clothes to be comfortable?
  • Do I have liquid and food to match the ride?
  • Should I ride or take a rest day?
  • It’s OK to do a recovery ride today.
  • How’s the cadence, throw in a couple of HC or LC drills?
  • How’s the heart rate, deep diaphragm breathing to control.
  • Am I going to do a zone ride today?
  • Think form – focus.
  • Do some standing drills.
  • Min-Min / relax; or, crush some tarmac?
  • Record the ride in my training log – not only what I did, but how I felt.
  • Don’t forget “MY After” chocolate milk (from Toque Torque Cycling long before the commercial was chic)
  • Post ride stretch / massage.
  • Maybe cold shower on the quads (sorry Coach – no ice bath for me, it’s an age thing).
  • Repeat 5x – Ah, wind in your face, It’s great to be a teenager again.
  • Take a nap – Age reality and necessity sets in — until the next ride

With Toque Torque Cycling I ride stronger (my coach didn’t want me to talk about speed / pace but it’s about 10-15% improvement), with the right frame of mid, with better form, and most importantly more enjoyment – and “Coach”, not only did I conquer Paris Mountain, I seldom let a week or two go by without a ride to the top, both directions and multiple times on some days.  As I recall, the fear and challenge of climbing is why I called Toque Torque — Thank You!

Rainy Sunglasses

Out from under the soaked brim, my ill-chosen sunglasses darken the dim daylight further. Shielding my eyes from the unwelcome spray of a closely passing semi-truck, my dense gloves grip my rain-washed handlebars, stiffly steering my black tire and front wheel on a path forwards and to the right in anticipation of the “suction” wind gust. 
Cocooned, Stifled, Bound.
Out from under the soaked brim, my ill-chosen sunglasses darken the dim daylight further. Shielding my eyes from the unwelcome spray of a closely passing semi-truck, my dense gloves grip my rain-washed handlebars, stiffly steering my black tire and front wheel on a path forwards and to the right in anticipation of the “suction” wind gust. My black rain jacket hangs over my skinny arms, rain drops beading down and forwards, cascading along one flow of my arms, hands and then handlebars. Ahead, the slippery surface of the soaked asphalt melds with the glassy wetness of my upper body. Cutting through puddles splashes of wet bombard my boots, forming small pools between my toes. The dull cold ache in my legs returns at any red stoplight, mashing on the pedals after which to regain warmth and fluidity. But I feel.

Fresh, Bright, Alive

Up, out and away from the busy road, it is the day’s first climb. Jacket unzipped, it flaps slowly alongside my  torso as I grind and bob my way up the slippery grade. Flipping my glasses off, I perch them along my helmet’s brow at the road’s first respite. Lighting the day, I can now make out the details of the road’s surface, a stippled path of worn chipseal or pitted ashault I can never tell. Protected under the canopy of the climb’s roadside forest, the rain turns to drizzle. Water accumulates slowly along my cap’s brim, beading out to it’s edge, waiting, waiting, and then finally falling to a quiet “blop”.  As I climb up out of the saddle, pulling with my arms and pushing with the opposing legs, my shoulders sway just the smallest of amounts and tip the level of the brim. Left, right, then back all the way to the left before dropping off the brim’s edge. How many times can the next bead of water hold on, how long can it live at the edge? A rollercoaster ride of extremes; left, right, left, blop. Ha, it’s almost in sequence with the beat of the music in my ear. The smoother I pedal, the longer the beads avoid’s it’s splash. The hill is steep but I feel.

When riding in the rain anything can happen. Conditions can change rapidly, incidents ahead are harder to avoid, roadside moss ever more treacherous. But we you ride in the rain you can feel every element of the experience at any given moment, now matter how awful it may be. In the truest sense, you are alive.