• 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

Cycling

When I started with racing a few years ago (three?), I had no idea where it would lead. I was informed by a friend prior to getting into racing that it takes three years to build the fitness to be able to race. To me, the whole idea of blowing $50 (or more) and not being able to at least finish with the pack, seemed like a complete waste. My first year at it (2011) I was blow away by how "easy" it was to stay with pack. This year, my second year of doing the Ontario Cycling Association circuit, I hoped to take racing to the next level and see the podium. While that never happened, I learned something about racing and myself. I learned about the mental aspects of racing and the necessity for mental toughness.

Once the body is sufficiently trained, whether one makes it first to the finish line has more to do with the mind not only believe it is possible, but willing itself to keep going even when the body is in such pain that it wants to shutdown. Tactics play a part as well, but that only plays the part of getting properly positioned for the last 500m in a road race or the last 1-2 laps on the track. It is ones ability to go all out after hours of intense riding on the road, or enduring the endless attacks/accelerations (the jam) on the track or a crit, that determines the winner.

As I recovery from my broken collar bone from the crash in the Tour de Terra Cotta race on the August long weekend (yea, a month ago), I've had time to reflect on how I got to where I am. Of course, it helps to be asked by the Heart and Stroke Foundation for my story and, now, Bicycling Magazine has asked for the same. I also have friends, that while cyclists, still struggle to lose that last 10-25lbs. I thought I would offer some of the "Pearls of Wisdom". The basis premise of this post is you have to make diet, exercise, and training a habit - something that requires little thought, but is something you just do.

Exercise as a Habit

First, my transformation from a fat guy at 265lbs to my now 185lbs frame didn't happen overnight. It happened mainly because of my desire to change which lead to the creation of new habits. There are a lot of diet and exercise programs out there that claim to be a quick fix. There is no quick fix. It takes time and a lot more than will power. When I started in the dead of winter back in 2008, I bought a trainer for my mountain bike, set it up in the basement, and told myself I would do 20 mins every morning before work on weekdays. I got up 30mins earlier to get ready and on the bike. I never missed a day. Before long, it became second nature to get up, change into the bike shorts, go to the basement, and spin for 20 mins. I have to admit some mornings I didn't want to get up, and after 20 mins I was completely wiped, but I kept at it. But, my rewards was I was losing weight. Eventually, 20 mins in the morning led to 30 min rides outside in the morning. 5km in 30 mins. Eventually, those rides got longer. 8km. 10km. 15km. I had to start riding after work because I ran out of time in the morning. Eventually, I hooked up with a friend and we started riding "long" regularly. Our longest ride was 60km. A new road bike soon followed as did joining a bike club. That was 2008. This past weekend I rode some 300km including 80km in Blue Mountain, ON - some of the longest hills in Ontario - all with a partially broken collar bone because I just can't stand to sit still anymore.

First, thanks to everyone for your support, emails, twitter posts, words of encouragement, etc. after my shoulder met the ground in the Tour of Terra Cotta and I broke my collar bone. A special thanks to my friend, Roger Spackman. He is visiting Toronto from the UK this month. Roger, who has not driven on the right side of the road for some years, managed to find the Georgetown hospital, and stayed with me to eventually drive me home. Also, thanks to friend Robyn "Tailwindz" Meredith, after finishing the race, came back to help me out, find Roger, etc. and later came to Emerg to cheer me up. In case you don't know it, Robyn got 3rd overall for the Ontario Cup for the Masters B Women's division. Someone at the crash site asked her if she was my wife. She said no, but probably felt like saying something like "Ah, hell no, but he keeps asking me to go out with him and I keep telling him I won't even consider it until he wins a race".

It has been about 11 days since the crash. Of course, the crash took out the use my right arm for a few days. It took a day to be able to figure out how to sit at the computer and type with two hands. So, I was only off work for a day - which was a good thing because the pain killers kept be mostly asleep all day the day following the crash. I still can't brush my teeth properly - try telling that to the dentist whose appointment I had on Monday this week. Floss you say? Huh? You try that with your left hand.  I spent until this week working at home. My office just told me to stay there. It worked out. The pain killers and everything I needed were here at home.

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