Yes, this lesson finally clicked today. The faster I go, the easier it is. With speed the bumps and roots seem to disappear and flatten out. With speed, getting around a tricky corner is almost effortless. The faster I attack a steep climb the easier it is to get up and over it and prevent the mid- hill stall and fall over to the side… The more speed I take into the turns and cambers the easier it is to keep on moving forward and not get bogged down. The more speed I can take with me into the sand, makes it so much more easier to get through it without the front wheel diving down and the handlebars going haywire. The faster I let the bike run down steep descents, the sooner the descent is over and I have less time to think about what it is I’m doing on my bike.
Speed is my friend. Speed is your friend. Now I’m talking reckless riding with a “no-brakes” attitude. No I’m talking about letting the speed that you’ve worked so hard to find and amp up on flats and pavement do the work for you in the technical sections. I’m not a technical wizard but over the last few weeks of training and learning, I’ve had some major light bulbs go off.
Lessons that Marc and the young guns have been trying to teach me over the past few years are finally coming to fruition. I remember being told that each race and training session I would learn things that I didn’t even realize and one day these lessons would be apparent. Well, it seems the time has come. I’m learning. I’m catching up to my competitors with these technical break-throughs. I may not have the overwhelming power of Katie Compton or the technical finesse of Sven Nys but I’ve got a jersey full of confidence and trust in my abilities.
Each time I go out I ask myself to let the speed run more and more, to try attacking the hills in a harder gear and to sprint that much faster up the climbs. Clicking, learning, and getting it – all this is happening for me in my suburban stomping grounds.
This past weekend featured the Canadian elite road championships. I did not attend these races but I did follow them closely on Twitter and on various websites. Lots of impressive rides and some definite breakthroughs (even for those not on the podium). Clara Hughes won the individual time trial championship on Friday and on the weekend an article ran in the Toronto Star featuring her accomplishments. What stood out for me though in this article is that Hughes revealed she has a sole sponsor who is providing her with $120,000 to support her cycling season and quest to race once again at the Olympics. Here is what Hughes had to say about this support:
“He said the reason he’s supporting me is ‘I really like what you do and I like the example you set for young people.'”
“A part of my mission is to show what’s possible and also I hope to show when you support an athlete, you’re a part of their process, a huge part. The person that funds me, I send him updates all the time. And he emails me back ‘I feel like I’m doing this with you.’”
Hughes said she doesn’t think people realize the difference they can make in helping an athlete achieve their dreams.
“I remember reading about Silken Laumann,” she said. “She had a supporter, a man who gave her $10,000 when she had nothing. I think she tried to convince him not to, but he just wanted to help her and be part of her success. I remember thinking that was the coolest thing.
“I’m so lucky and I don’t feel like I should be the only one.”
In my opinion this really shows the type of person Clara Hughes is. She really appreciates the support she is receiving and even more, recognizes that not all athletes are as fortunate as her. I wonder if more athletes realized that sponsorship is so hard to come by, they would appreciate what they have that much more. Yes, this is a cyclical process – appreciate what you have, show your sponsors that you appreciate it (and are overwhelmed by it), and maybe you’ll end up getting more support or maybe another athlete will get some support. All this adds up to strengthening our athletes and giving everyone a warm happy feeling in their soul.
Okay, a bit corny I know but sometimes I can’t help myself. For my part I’m pretty sure it is clear how much I appreciate and am thankful of the support I get from my sponsors. When I pull on my cycling kit, I see those logos and I remember that these companies didn’t have to sponsor me – they chose to – so I better do my best to represent them the best I can.
And now that I’m moving so much faster, you’ll have to look extra hard to see the blur of logos as I race by! In case you can’t remember who my sponsors are, here is a cheat sheet: