Success is prepared for with a personal commitment, effort and knowledge. Success is achieved when you have a team which can help each other reach your best potential.
Earlier this summer I was fortunate to connect with my local bike store Martin Swiss here in Montreal. They have group rides and an amateur team riding at a high Provincial level.
Finally the time has come to let go of my Mountain biking roots and migrate to the road. To be short and blunt, the MTB scene in Montreal basically sucks. There are no close hills or mountains, and riding in Mt Royal is an exercise in stress and frustration.
I have already had a road bike for several years now, initially purchased for cross-training for MTB races. It’s not something that I had planned, but it just worked out that the open road had some pull over me. It became apparent very quickly that there were a lot more places I could get to wheels rolling from my door on a road bike.
So this spring when I returned from Trans Portugal I set about to not only improve my confidence on the road but also to learn from my soon to be roadie friends how to improve my overall fitness and bike handling skills in general.
It’s amazing what a difference it makes to your actual effort level to be riding with strong guys in a team environment vs training on your own. I guess I finally learned that the only way past my plateau was to ride with stronger guys and be forced to dig deep or be dropped.
This summer have made so many new friends, had so many great riding experiences on the road with these guys. From short flat early morning team time trial efforts, to hill reps, to long distance group rides it’s really been time well spent.
Clearly there’s a lot more to riding road than just a different type of bike. I had to learn to drift instead of avoiding obstacles. I spend more time looking at the horizon on the road than on the obstacle ahead of me. It’s clear that shaved legs just work much better on the road that hairy legs, and baggy shorts are absolutely out! I also had to learn how to handle my energy in a peloton, when to push, how to push and why half wheeling the guy in front of you is bad.
I spent more money at Rapha on lycra than anything else this summer kit-wise but it was totally worth it. Have learned good kit eliminates so many body reaction issues – chaffing, saddle sores and so on. The good news is that is works with my MTB as well!
I’ve also learned a road bike is even easier to dismantle to travel with, having taken it to California and Hawaii on trips this year. No need to remove the derailleur and it weighs a good deal less too, so fewer bickering sessions on check in about the weight.
Most of all I’ve learned that having teammates and friends on your team to ride with is incredibly motivating. It’s not simply about being competitive or reaching your own potential. It’s about the pleasure of sharing your knowledge as well, and helping out others to reach their potential too.
This week I’ve been under the weather but I managed to make it out for my recommended ride on Sunday to hit personal bests on Camillien Houde – our local cyclist hill mecca. I felt rubbish, fighting some virus but managed none the less to get going for one big pull. Think of the effort like a three stage rocket.
First I towed the guys up the initial grade, which is more suited to my riding style since the initial grade is pretty shallow but still long enough to burn. 500 plus watts for a minute and a half gets the group safely across the flats to the second hill, where Andre takes over and pulls Sean up through the long S turns to the final hill, where he can blast off for the line. I make it round the corner in time to see them cranking for the top. It’s great to spin up the hill a couple minutes later and find out he hit his PR. That’s the kind of team work I really appreciate and one that leaves us all feeling good for the rest of the day.
This winter it’s going to be a focus on indoor training, which should be interesting. Until then we’ll have fun with a few final race efforts and hopefully a couple of long rides to end what’s turned out to be the best season yet.
Admittedly I miss the back country mountain bike adventures with my friends in BC. The good news is that we’ll all be doing Stagecoach in Feb 2018 which I’ve wanted to do now for a couple years. Hopefully all my road riding and training will stand me in good stead for that adventure too.
For now it’s time to set some new goals, and plan some road racing for 2018. Looking forward to a new role as gregario super-domestique!