Canada Games wasn’t quite the experience I was hoping for. That being said, I’m grateful for the opportunity. And the highs were worth the lows. Needless to say, I’m glad I went.
Really, there was only one low, but it was a lingering low. The night before the time trial, I published a blog post about my pre-games thoughts. While I had no intention to offend, I obviously offended some readers, as my coach received some complaints.
Complainants were concerned that I had given away our team’s game plan by claiming that I was a weaker rider, and would not be one of Manitoba’s medal hopefuls. It was argued that teams might read my post, and then know that I’m not a rider they need worry about. I also mentioned in my post that I found it a bit difficult to be there in the position of a support rider and not a medal hopeful. It was not the role I had imagined for myself the year before. Some people, I understand, were concerned that my competitive spirit may get the better of me, and I wouldn’t ride for the team. Others said something about me being there just to experience the games, and that I would not put any real effort into the races.
This was all a bit surprising; I had carefully worded what I wrote to try and explain that although it wasn’t the role I had hoped for before I had stopped riding back in winter, I had no intention of letting anything get in the way of me putting all I had into the races for the team.
I also felt a bit offended that readers had chosen to complain to my coach rather than approach me directly. Perhaps they didn’t respect me enough to voice their concerns to me directly or perhaps they were more comfortable enlisting a messenger. It was requested that I delete my post, which I did (from Facebook. It is still on my site). I let the episode get to me, in part because I had written my blogs through-out the season to work through my worries and anxieties. I felt that I was in a pretty good place before Canada Games. The Canada Games blog was part of the same exercise. But that particular blog had made the situation worse. In addition to being anxious about it, I was also irritated.
The next morning, I started the time trial in a pretty bad head-space. I was angry with myself, and at several people who didn’t appear to have made an effort to understand what it was I had said or think about either their misgivings about what I had written, or how to approach me. No matter how hard I tried, it was all I could think about during the 30 or so minutes that I was out there on my own. I couldn’t focus. I was full of negative thoughts. I rode terribly, and finished 19th. In part my frustration stemmed from my willingness to be pretty open in my blogs versus the complainants’ lack of openness.
I rode on my own from the venue to Bryanna’s house instead of going with the team back to the village. It wasn’t a wise move if I intended to show that I did in fact have team spirit, but I knew what I needed to do to clear my head. I rode hard for the 30 km to her house. I put out the same power I would have in the tt, and might have yelled profanities every five pedal strokes to rid myself of my anger. The ride was fantastic, and the time I spent with Bryanna and her dad really made me feel better.
Two days later, I was in far better spirits for the road race. The racing started with attacks left and right from the first kilometre. We took turns covering moves, until I found myself off the front with one other rider. We lasted a few kilometres as we started the second lap, and then were swallowed by the peloton as a counter attack went. Eventually, that attack would form the lead group, which swelled to around 16 riders. Four of those riders were from Quebec, which was by far the strongest team. Three were from Manitoba. The only Manitobans left in the peloton were Danick and I.
I waited until the gap was around 25 seconds before trying to bridge on my own. I made it within five seconds of the lead group as we went through the start/finish. Right then, I saw the orange helmet of a Silber rider riding for Quebec look back, see me, and then accelerate, not interested in having a fourth Manitoba rider in their group. The group in front of me followed, and the pace was too high for me to make contact. I rode in no man’s land for a while before rejoining the peloton.
It was shit watching the race ride away from us. As pissed as I was, I knew it was harder on Danick. In an effort to lighten the mood, I joked about the peloton stopping and taking a break at the beach, before agreeing with Danick that we should get a proper training ride in, if nothing else. So the two of us spent the day at the front of our group, setting tempo. We weren’t chasing the group ahead, but were simply trying to control the gap, and prevent anyone from trying to attack (although an attack would have been useless). I decided to try and contend the field sprint, and somehow beat everyone in our group to finish 14th. It wasn’t an impressive result, but I still posted up and pointed at ‘Manitoba’ written across my chest, proud to represent in front of a (small) home crowd.
The last event was the criterium. It was a points format crit, which meant that there would be a sprint every fifth lap with points awarded to the first three to cross the line. This meant that whoever had the highest accumulation of points would win, and the winner wouldn’t necessarily be the first rider to cross the line at the end. I had never done a race like this, and was in for a real treat.
From the gun, the race was full-out. I tried to attack off the start line, but I think several others had the same idea, as it was a full-out four up match sprint to the first corner. I slotted in second, and tried to attack before the 180. I couldn’t get away, and the pace never eased up. By the second lap, nearly half the field was dropped, and I almost found myself caught in the split. I barely bridged to the lead group.
Quebec controlled the entire race. No one could challenge them. I did my best to help Kurt out, as our designated sprinter, but even he was struggling. I crossed the line in 6th, but finished 8th as I had no points. Unanimously, the team agreed that somehow, that was the hardest crit any of us had ever ridden. It was full gas for 75 minutes. It was relentless.
The team had some strong performances, but we left with no medals. That certainly wasn’t the expectation of the games, but we definitely rode hard and well. I was pleased with my performance in the crit, as it wasn’t an event that suited me, with it being flat and full of sprints. I was obviously disappointed with my time trial. I was happy with my sprint (I know it was for 14th) in the road race, but really wished I had been in the front group and finished higher up.
This winter I plan to work on time trial focus. This will help me deal with a mind that tends to wander. The key to a solid time trial is focus. You shouldn’t be thinking of anything unrelated to the task at hand. No matter what might be going on, you need to give your performance undivided attention. I need to train my mind. If anyone has any tips on time trialing, I’d love to hear from you!