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Pre-Games

I’ve been pretty busy during the approach to games. Putting in my last group rides to complete my two months of riding before the competition, running around finding loaner wheels and gear, travelling to Winnipeg, and now keeping up with the busy life of an Athlete’s Village.

I planned to blog while infected road rash kept me off the bike for a week, but sleep filled any time I thought I would have had for writing. I thought I could write on my way to Winnipeg, but again, the plane provided an opportunity to rest which was too valuable to pass up. Upon arriving in Winnipeg, I’ve been going non-stop trying to complete the final details in my preparation, and taking in all that the Games has to offer.

But I’m here now after a long journey. Maybe the journey started four years ago when I didn’t get to go to Sherbrook in 2013. Maybe it started in 2015 after Westerns, when I switched my sights to Canada Games. Or maybe the journey really started in March, when I thought I was walking away from cycling, and was certainly moving in a direction opposite to Games. Either way, I’m well aware that the journey I’ve taken to games has been less than direct, sometimes directionless, and definitely not ideal.

I’m here with different goals than what I imagined I’d have when I dreamed of being here. I realize that I’m not in the form that I had planned to be in last year, when I was having the season of my life, and thought it would only get better, continuing on a trajectory that would prove unsustainable. I’m not here with the expectation that I’ll get a medal. No one has that expectation for me. And I think I’m okay with that.

It’s not always easy at the team meetings when we discuss our medal hopefuls, and I’m not one of them. It’s simply not what I expected a year ago. And of course, not what I want now.

Something I’ve been working on is eliminating the envy I feel when my peers succeed. Often, I feel sorry for myself instead of proud of them; stuck wishing that I was the one winning races, or in a position to do so. Maybe that’s part of being competitive. I need that desire in order to find myself in that position again one day. But it’s not nice to catch yourself almost hoping your friend doesn’t win a race, just to spare you the jealousy. It’s almost toxic. It’s something I’m fighting.

But on that note, as I said before, I think I’m okay not having the expectation to medal. Instead, it’s expected that I will race for my team mates, and help them to medal. I wonder though, how will I feel after the races, if they do medal, and I’m left with 20th or something on the results page.

My goal for the races is to pour my heart into them. A team victory is still a victory. Jealousy has never gotten in the way during a race, only after. Jealousy aside, I’ll do what I came here to do. I’m not in the position to have the team behind me. I know that. So I don’t expect it.  Nor do I want that pressure right now. I’m here to ride for Team Manitoba. That’s just what I’ll do.

Me, Kurt, Danick. Heading to the village. 

Me, Kurt, Danick. Heading to the village. 

Apart from the races, I’m also here to experience games. Meet new people. Hang out with friends from around Canada. See family and friends from my hometown. Soak it all in, and have a good time off the bike. Racing isn’t only about the races. I’m here for it all. If I happen to have a bad race, it won’t ruin my week.

So far, it’s just been a lot of eating, trading pins, and helping my team mates with their Tinder game. A lot of swiping right has taken place in these past two days. The guys need to work on their pick-up lines a little, but they're getting there.

We met with a sport psychologist as a team last night as well. We discussed the certain pressures and potential triggers of multisport games. I can’t help but think my coach organized that with me in mind. I’m grateful for that. Canada Games has actually done a lot to consider the mental health of the athletes, with dogs coming in every evening from St John’s Ambulance as animal therapy, and sport psychologists available around the clock. It’s uplifting to see that level of awareness and effort.

We start the competition tomorrow with the time trial. It’s a 21 km race against the clock at Birds Hill Park. The racing starts around 10. If you’re in Winnipeg, you should come check it out! My plan is to ride hard. Really hard. We’ll see how it goes.

Before the competition starts though, I have some people to thank for getting me here. The Manitoba Provincial Team Committee has given me the chance to compete, despite clearly not being the most ideal candidate. They’ve given me an opportunity, and put faith in me that goes beyond letting me compete. The belief in me has motivated me in my training and racing leading up to Games. I know I might not have been a favourite, but I am so grateful to be here.

I also need to thank anyone who has read my blog. Anyone who has commented or wrote to me to encourage me on the way. Thank you for joining my team. Thank you for riding with me.

To all the volunteers at Games, all 6,000 of you, thank you so much! It’s uplifting to see the energy of so many people here feeding us, keeping us safe, putting venues together, and doing all the things we don’t see as well. Volunteers make our events possible, and without you there would be no games. So thank you.

Several people have also loaned me gear, so thank you John Holland, Erin Attwell, Chris Graham and Danick.

My point is, I didn’t get here alone. I’ve realized that I don’t have to try to get places on my own anymore. I’ve never been alone, it just took me a while to figure that out. I’m happy to be here, with a massive team. I hope to do you proud!