• Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, MI

  • Racing the Provincial's Crit 2014

  • Forest City Velodrome - London, ON

  • Larkenville Challenge, Buffalo, NY

  • Winning the Sprint at the ForestCity Velodrome

  • Track Nationals 2014: Keirin

  • Track Nationals 2014: Points Race

  • OCUP #1: Feb 2015


It's been some four years since I started taking training seriously and the hardest part of the training has been conditioning my mind for competition. While solving problems and working hard comes naturally for things involving computers, it doesn't come natually for things involving bike racing and other sports related activities. Learning the meaning of "Rule #5" and "HTFU" have been and are hard. In fact, I had no idea about anything of the sort until last year. If I recall correctly, I tweeted "Bike is 50% mental" and I got a response from Mike "The Gorrila" Mandel from Real Deal Racing that is is 99% mental. He was certainly correct.

One of the things I learned last year while training with the Real Deal Elite team was about giving up - and why you can't do that if you want to win. However, I also discovered that showing up to a race with the "gotta win, gotta win" idea rolling through my head has a negative affect on performance. The anxiety and stress from those throughts tends to cause me to make mistakes, miss opportunities, and generally under-perform. I have thus taken on the "it doesn't matter" attititude when showing up for a race. I tend to do better when I have no expectation from the outcome. However, that does not mean I do not give 110%. The mental training is still put to the test during hard efforts, attacks, and the sprint for finish, but after it's all over and I pack up and go home, I am not worried about not making the podium. This is the reason I put "having fun" as the first goal for this season. Because I am not being paid to race a bike, the moment racing and training becomes work, I need to rethink why I am doing it.


What do you think of when you think of a cycling "studio"? Lots of people strapped to their own bikes which in turn are strapped to trainers with someone (maybe a computer) calling the shots. Zone 3! Zone 4! UP! Out of the saddle! Sit. I have been there. I had to admit, I do not get much joy from sitting on a trainer in my basement and thus the thought of spinning in a group doesn't give me much joy either. 2-3 hours of riding a trainer in a room full of sweaty people all griping about how hard the workout is isn't my idea of fun. A little over two years ago, I joined the Forest City Velodrome in London, ON largely to get away from "spinning". I think I've done two indoor group rides since.

So, when Coach Veal put "Join indoor training camp day 3" on my training plan, I almost cringed. First, you have to understand Ed Veal and Mike Mandel started Real Deal Performance (RDP) in the back of Gears Bikeshop in Leaside (Toronto, ON) with a setup of 10 Racer Computrainers. Both Ed and Mike are experience elite bike racers. I have popped in to look around, but never bit the bullet to actually ride. I have done computer trainer workouts before. Before I joined the track, I bought my own Tacx computertrainer, and I have ridden up Alps d'Heuz, trained with Andy and Frank Schleck, etc.. but that thing has largely sat unused since. I have also been to one of RDP competitors some time ago as part of the Morning Glory Cycling club.


I was asked today why I train/race/ride. I spend a lot of time and effort getting faster, working hard, etc.. Let's face it, at age 45, I'm not going to the Olympics or even the Pam-Am games. It's not unheard of for someone 40+ to make it, but everyone else has been training their entire life, and I started 3-4 years ago. There are masters categories for the provincials, nationals, and worlds, but I still have some work to do to reach the world class calibre even in the master's divisions.

I think this photo sums up why I spend so must effort:


(Press CLOSE INFO above, left to see the whole photo) 


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