Canadian National Cyclocross Championships

Sorry for the delay in writing about the day of racing at Pine Point Park in Toronto on Saturday… Had a long day that was capped off with some non-cyclocross racing entertainment. Yes, I’m going to take a moment to brag about my little brother – you might know that my brother Greg Thomas is a professional actor… and on Saturday night we were fortunate enough to watch him perform as part of the Buzz Festival at Theatre Passe Muraille. So after a day of cheering, racing, and deep thinking we blasted into downtown Toronto to hang out with some fine folks and watch my brother do his show. It was a great way to unwind after a day of ups and downs (literally and figuratively).

But, we’re home now so you’ve got my undivided attention and it is time to tell you about my race. Chances are you’ve already browsed Pedal magazine or Canadian Cyclist so you’ve seen the results down on paper… Not the best day for me. In fact I would have to chalk this race up as one of my sub-par days. Can I point to one thing that went wrong or didn’t come together for me? Not really.

As you know I’m not one for making excuses for how and why things didn’t turn out the way I wanted. Nope – the reality is – I had a not great day on a course that really highlighted my deficiencies as a rider – combined with a terrible start and some serious mental battles during the race and I ended up 16th on the day. Not proud of it. But it is what it is.

There is no hiding on a course that involves a lot of climbing and the need to be able to accelerate when already at your perceived maximum effort. I am not good at riding steep short climbs. In fact I’ll state it here – I’m very bad at this skill and I’ve been hiding from this reality for some time by being able to compensate with my power. Well, this didn’t work for me on Saturday. I had to dismount and run the two steep pitches that everyone else was able to ride… This cost me – in time and mentally.

I’ll be completely honest here – I let myself and you down on Saturday. I gave up on the bike. I decided during the race that I was done – that I would scrap my ticket to Belgium, the car rental, the house arrangements, and the racing plans – all because I wasn’t having the ride that I believed I should be having… Yes I was in a very bad way and I only have myself to blame. I quit on myself when the going got tough and things weren’t happening the way I wanted.

You see, I believed I could get a top 10 – heck I had this delusional idea that I was good enough for a top 5! Yes, even with not being able to ride what every other rider in my race was riding. Now this belief wasn’t because of an inflated ego – nope it all came down to wanting to go to the World Championships… I took a bunch of my eggs and shifted them into a basket that all season hasn’t been part of my plan. I believed that somehow that at this race, I would have the ride of the season and pull out skills that I’ve never had before…

Yes, pretty darn silly. But this is the truth. I’m not proud of it. But this is what happened. So take some misguided self-imposed outcome expectations, combined with a very bad start, a course that didn’t have much space for putting down monster power efforts, throw in some steep climbing – and I quit on myself. If you were at the race and saw me (thanks for the cheering) you likely saw my facial expression – I was angry and just plain old not having fun. Sure I did some things well – my cornering was pretty good, I lined up the twists and turns well, I let the bike run on the downhill corners and I was standing up and accelerating out of the corners – but it wasn’t enough.

As a bike racer it can be very challenging to have such a day. But it happens. As Marc said yesterday, the easy route would be to quit and give up. And this is not the route for me. Nope, I’ve already got training sessions arranged for when I arrive in Belgium with some good coaches so that I can fix and improve on my weaknesses. I felt sorry for myself for a good part of yesterday and Marc had to really give me a shake to help me see that I was actually being rather dumb.

Today, I still feel badly about the race but not the same way as I did on Saturday. Today I have feelings of regret – why didn’t I go out and get the help and coaching I needed earlier in the season to address my start, acceleration and climbing issues? Why didn’t I do this? It took a big race for me to clearly realize that I can’t rely on a few tricks – I need to be a more well-rounded racer and athlete.

Alright, enough negativity… A big thank you to Marc for his patience, support, intelligent words and understanding of what I was going through. Huge thanks to my dad for driving down to Toronto and being there all day to take photos, cheer us both on and to simply be part of the day. More thanks to all of you for the cheering out on the course, for the photos, for the emails and comments – I really appreciate it and wish I could have said hello and thank you to more of you in person.

I’m super proud of Marc and his ride on Saturday – he finished third in the Masters 40-49 race. He had a very good ride on a course that really wasn’t for him either. But he rode to his strengths, kept his head on his shoulders and dug deep for the entire race. Super proud of him.

Thanks as well to the organizers, to Alex Sanna for his expert help in the pits, to Peter Mogg for his words of wisdom, and to the young gun moustache/mullett-crew for putting a smile on my face.