Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Back to racing 2015 - struggles of the first big race

This year in Canada (especially in Kingston - why did I move here?) we've had a drawn out and cold winter. I managed to get down south for some road bike races with the Queen's road cycling team (not really a focus of mine, but nice to get onto moving bikes outside), followed by an amazing race called the Uxbridge Icebreaker which was the first real mountain bike ride of the season for me!

The weather down south wasn't much better (this is Boston) -Philippe Tremblay photo

The trip to Vermont was amazing, thanks UVM for hosting me!
Second mountain bike ride of the year - Uxbridge Icebreaker - Hannah Clarke photo

There are a few reasons that I didn't cover these races on my blog - school (I've been working so much here that I ended up growing a "paper beard" that I wouldn't let myself shave until I finished a paper)
A quick selfie in my office at Queen's - what do you think of the beard?

And because I wanted to give some coverage of the exciting new team that I get to be a part of; Team Progressive powered by  Superfly/Maverix Racing! Small bits of info and teasers have been coming at me all winter from Jay, our main man/team manager and it all came together for me when last week I was invited to a nutrition seminar at the Progressive Nutrition headquarters. I met half of the team there (some of them for the first time), and was greeted in the parking lot by Jay, who had some important things for me. Firstly, he had a burrito, the Jay E. (he's kind of like Jay-Z) special from Mucho Burrito (you can ask for it anywhere in the country, I like mine with a little extra spice), next he had some fresh kits (what bikers call uniforms), and finally he had some AWESOME swag fro POC.

A hood full of awesome new things (good thing for THULE to make my car an SUV right?)
The nutrition seminar was great, but at the end I had to ask "So how big is my shopping list if I want to get all of these things?", apparently everything I need except DHA and EPA fats (which I can get in fish oil) come with 1 shake per day of VegEssentials - not bad. I'm pretty excited to be working with Progressive Nutrition because for a guy like me who's always busy and doesn't exactly have tons of time for shopping and cooking, it's nice to just have a shake and worry less.

Missing tons half of the team here unfortunately

We got all set up on the Saturday of the weekend with a new tent/expo area to hang out under, and it was great to have such support at the race. Saturday a few of us Maverix guys took groups out riding on the course to build confidence on the trails, and I was really enjoying the beautiful day - I really didn't want to leave (and spent a bit too much time in the sun).

Riding with these guys was a treat, So great to see their improvements after just one lap!

On Sunday, I showed up with a perfect bike, but 5 minutes after I got there I had a flat tire, and then a brake issue. I put my bike into the stand under the tent to get to work on it and I was almost pushed out of the way by our MVP this weekend Simon, who fixed and cleaned my bike.

On the start line I was calm and ready, I had trained harder than ever this winter, and some some pretty great fit things - time to reap the benefits. The race start was fast, but not out of control fast until we reached the first steep climb of the lap, and that was when it started to really hurt. I told myself that I would settle in, and that I could do these efforts, so I pushed it hard to keep my position in the pack. I was gasping for air and definitely not going as fast as I thought I should - but I pushed, thinking that the efforts would feel more reasonable once I had raced a bit longer.

I really couldn't manage a smile - not feeling good at all (Thanks Elissa for the photo)

By the second lap I had been passed by more and more riders, and I knew that I wasn't feeling good. My back seized up, and I really contemplated dropping out of the race. What was the point of all the work that I had done if I was even slower than last year? I started to think about all of my goals for the year and how they were all so unlikely now, and really got down on myself. I knew that I was racing for dead last, and it was painful that that became obvious to me in the second lap of a five lap race, but I stuck it out. I thought that maybe all that I needed was to train at the super high heart rates that a mountain bike race brings on, so at least I would be "racing into fitness" (using races to get performance gains). Besides, I'd rather finish DFL (Dead eFfing Last) than have a DNF (Did Not Finish) beside my name, at least I'd finish with my integrity.

Even my hoverbike didn't help me that day (Thanks Elissa for the photo)

Maybe a smile would have made me ride faster? Probably. 

I tried not to show how unhappy I was and be a good sport, but all of the pictures of me in that race I have this same dumb unimpressed look, sorry guys.

This is what grouchy Chris sprinting on to a lonely sprint finish looks like:

I'm convinced that I will be racing a lot faster in the future, and that this is an isolated incident (I was in bed for the day 3 days later with the flu). Thanks Mom too for coming to watch me race and hand out water bottles, love you! I'm planning to be back on top of my game for the 8 hour race on Saturday at Mansfield. It's my birthday and 8 hour races are almost like bike festivals for the day, so I invite anyone to come out and race a few laps! Mostly it's a great social event to get out, try a race course, and meet lots of people.

PS throw my new team some "likes" on Facebook and Instagram, we've got some great media and love to see the support!

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