[Updated: April 22, 2012]

This morning I got out of bed at the hotel room in Calabogie and I have a feeling it, I know not why, I would be involved in a crash at the race. I put the thought aside and forgot about it. I was set to race the Calabogie Speedway for the second OCUP race of the season in Calabogie, ON

It was the first time racing the Calabogie Speedway. I skipped the race last year. My rule is never race a course you have never ridden, so I managed to sneek into the course before the race for a lap. 20 turns is a technical course, but with no yellow line or yellow line rule, there should not have been a problem. Of course, this is M3 and the pack is filled with seasoned racers that just haven't podiumed to the guy that just got a new carbon bike and freshly minted racing license. That said, it's the catagory I am in. Coach Veal today told the S3 team while I was standing around to get used to the bumping and wheel bashing. That's racing. I have also been told in Europe, agresive racing is the norm. 

The race went well. I planned to stay sheltered in the pack until the last two laps and then move up to the front staying at the front over the last few turns of the race. My only regret was I didn't do what would have done last year and just have gone to the front. Stay 1-5 guys back, and hammer it to the finish. I didn't stay close enough to the front...and the result was in this shaky race was a crash. A guy (#145) just off to the side of me on the inside clipped the wheel of the guy in front of him (#102) and in the process took out 6-8 guys. The end result was two bikes (including my new Red Vitess) broken and the race pretty much over for the rest.

On Saturday, April 14 I drove out to London, ON for the last race of the winter/spring season at the Forest City Velodrome. I put on my fancy new RealDealRacing/LaBicicletta skin suit and shoe covers. I was ready to get areo (except I forgot to shave my legs and face).

The race night called for my favourite race to be up first: this miss and out aka the Elimination Race. This race is won from the front as every three laps the rider that crosses the finish line last is eliminated. I discovered back in January that the way to finish with a good placement is to get to the front of the pack and stay there preventing ANYONE from coming over you. It's a harder way of racing because you spend 8-10 mins pushing wind. However, it works. I usually finish in the top 3 or 4. This time I was a bit luckier. When the race started, I came over the entire group and grabbed the front. I ramped the pace up which stretched the pack out. I listened to the announcer as people got popped off the back. It was down to me and two other riders. I was impressed. At this point, usually the left over riders manage to come over me, but that didn't happen. The 3rd ride got picked off and left on the track was me and one other guy. Apparently, he had been on my wheel the entire race drafting. At the last corner before the sprint he came over me, and I had absolutely nothing left to get out of the saddle and sprint. He won by a 10m margin. So, I spent 8 mins off the front of the pack going all out and came in second.

They say all good things come in threes. Well, it happened this week.

Saturday night I raced the Forest City Velodrome and won my first race ever. I got to carry the Canadian flag for a victory lap. The race was Last Man Standing. So, from a standing start, I have to go all out to catch the rider in front of me and go over him. I marked him from the start, and told myself I needed to give 110% to not get lapped myself. I kept giving 110%. Last Man Standing is an all out sprint until its over. When it was two of us left on the track, it took all I could to attempt to sprint past the guy, but I just couldn't go it. I had to wait for him to burn out (or give up)....which happened, but not after some 5-6 laps of trying. It took 10 mins afterwards to recover from this race. However, I managed to win.

Saturday morning, I met with Julian of Vitess. He helped build up my Vitess Red and replaced the cables housings in white. I provided the new chain, bar tape, cables, etc. Julien built up the bike for me and did a quick check fit to make sure to the seat was set correctly. I broke the frame of this bike a while back and I am glad to have this bike back in action. I rode it this evening to break in the new cables. It is quite a difference from my Giant TCR Advanced 2.

Lastly, today the new bike kit came in and I went over to collect it. I finally have a real TT Skin Suit. Check it out. I'm ready to race this season under the Real Deal Racing (ie. Ed Veal's Team) banner.

Over the last month of so, the topic of "Hard" in relation to training has come up a fair amount. I've encountered a  fair number of athletes that really don't know what hard is or who give up too easily. Training to be a top notch athlete is all about learning to cope with failure. One must fail over and over again and learn from the experience rather than though the hands in the air claim one just can't do it. It is part of the journey.

I have posted in the last month how I have managed to drop some 80-90lbs and be able to ride a bike faster than I could ever imagine. I have learned to ride the Donut Ride without getting dropped. Three years ago, just making it to 15th and Keele St on the Donut Ride was an achievement. I have learned to race the track in London, and I have gone from never finishing a race, to almost winning a few. I still have issues keeping up for 4-5 laps in the Morning Glory Ride, but racing a 5km circuit with a 16% grade hill in the middle will still take some time to tackle. I still can't sprint well - I need to see 1300-1400W to win races, and have issues at 1100W. In time, I will get there.

The point I'm trying to make: I have come a long way. I still have a long way to go. But the experience of remembering where I started also reminds me of a major crash along the way. I found some photos recently that bring back memories. It make me think of the whiners that give up to easily. They really don't know hard.

Mark XRay Jun 23, 2009 Mark XRay Oct 1, 2009

Motivation. It is a hard thing to maintain. Since taking up track cycling and racing, I have come to the realization I have no off season. The "off season" for most encompasses some time off the bike and then a return to the wieght room and intervals on the trainer. 

For me, since am riding and racing year round now, it is sometimes hard to stay motivated. I started with FITS Toronto back in the fall for two reasons: I needed to get my right leg which I broke in 2009 back up to the same strength as my left leg and for increasing power generated on the bike. I spent the fall going to FITS weekly, and ramped it up to twice weekly in December. It has paid off by leaps and bounds. My right leg almost has the same stength as the left and it has shown up on the bike by being about to push big gears on the track during race nights. Back in fall, I had a hell of a time getting over a big gear at the track and now it's not a problem. 

I dedicated this past weekend to the track - the Forest City Velodrome in London, ON. I raced Saturday night, and road hard during this sportif ride on Sunday.

The Saturday night races were set up with something different this time, or so it seemed. The B races contained no A riders which meant the pace was not as mind blowing as usual. This also meant my changes of finishing closer to the top three spots was greater - and that proved to be the case several times over.

To start off with, the race night was a sprint night. The focus was matched sprints - well, they are supposed to be matched. Normally, I ignore sprint tournaments because I am not a sprinter, but because I never really get any practice at it, I signed up on this special night. It wasn't long before the list was posted, and um, I regretted my decision. I was put into the Elite tournament where I would be been better off sprinting the women or the kids (yea, it's pathetic, but there are some 12-14 year olds at the track that can out sprint me). So, first up was Chris Singleton, Chris Veulmoux, and me. Two A class riders with Singleton being a great sprinter. Singleton controlled the pace and went slow enough that I was forced to take the lead - a position I hate before I do not have the ability to ride with my head turned. Needless to say, Singleton came over me and took off followed by Veulmoux. What happened next is something I still have yet to figure out: Veulmoux gave up on the last lap and allowed me to come over him. Huh? So, technically, I won second pace on the sprint which meant I advanced to the next round. Oh brother. So, I think I sprinted about three times during the night against some of the best sprinters on the track. It was a good experience for me, but none of them have to work hard. I just do not have the acceleration to come even close to some of these guys such as Will Simmons one of the fastest guys on the track. I didn't care - it was a learning opportunity.

Here is a good story I found in a email from Coach Veal from one of his clients:

"A bear is chasing two friends and the one says to the other "RUN"!!!  The other says, "We can't out run a bear?!?!"  His buddy replies, "I don't need to out run a bear... I just need to our run you!!!"   Last one to quit wins!"

So, one gets eaten by the bear and the other gets away. Remind anyone of a bike race? It happens to me all the time on the track. It is often the difference between DNF and finishing the race, albeit sometimes in last place. I can recall two weeks ago or so. I did a race at the track (Forest City Velodrome). It had a lot of "A" racers in it. I knew it was going to hurt. Off the starting whistle, attacks started. But, as always, when the pace pickups up, it eases up. Although this time, the easing up lasted only a lap or two before the next attack. But 4 laps to go I was done. The legs were giving out. I could see riders coming over me and the last rider slowly edging away. I told myself, I WILL NOT DNF. I didn't care if I came in last place. I was finishing the race. The bear in this case was the DNF. It was the hardest race I have ever time. 9 mins riding at or above threshold. I finished the race, and later discovered I was 8 of 10. 2 others dropped out. I know have to learn to push myself in these situations to get out of the saddle and sprint. The bear needs to change from just finishing to not being last. I know in the elimination races, I am succeeding on this front. I have work to do in the endurance races.

I will say this much. It does take practice to push yourself the edge and keep going. Over and over again. I know with racing the track, every race night is a different race depending on who is in it. It is always a test of wills. Who can go hardest and risk blowing up to make it across the finish line in the best place.  But I guess that is what racing is 50% 99% mental and 50% 1% physical.

Update:
Big Mike Mandel suggests:
 99% mental. Your mind tells you to train,race,not to quit.Bodies adapt to stress but it is your mind that gets you to the line. 
Someone at Cadbury is into track racing. Here is a advert featuring Easter Creme Eggs racing the track.

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The Forest City Velodrome in conjunction with with Vitess Bicycle Corp. is hosting the biggest race at the track in London, ON of the season on Sat. Feb.4 (this sat!). Vitess has donated a new Vitess custom frame for the winner of the 99 lap Vitess Challenge race.  Limited gears are on tap with only 81 gear inches (48x16) permitted. Normal race gearing is 88 GI and up! Therefore, the races will be more a test of endurance and everyone's ability to spin, spin, spin at a high cadence.

Come check out the event. Details are on the link HERE.
 

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