Skis to bikes

Do you ever get nostalgic? I think I’ve become a chronically nostalgic person, at least whenever skiing crosses my mind.

I just reread my last blog post from , and it was a serious blow to the feels. It’s harder to be honest with myself than it is to be openly honest in writing, or speaking directly with people. I think conversations and stream of thought writing allow me to better convey and express my thoughts than my internal dialogue does because I don’t manicure things as much. Of course, I do edit my blogs (or at least try to) before posting, but I’ll always maintain the essence of what I initially wrote – I usually just turn the emotion down a couple notches and make things more politically correct, if necessary… As of late, I’ve actually found rereading some of my old entries here to be very insightful and that they have given me some much needed perspective on exactly how I felt at some key points during my ski career. I had the blog on private for a while, because I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue with it, but I think I will, even if it’s just the occasional update or thought bank.

So, why reminisce?

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Well, because I’ve quit skiing and there’s a lot of great memories, people and opportunities I’m parting ways with. Of course, the memories and people will always be there, but they’ll be there while I go somewhere else. Yah, so the aspirations to be a world class skier have ended – I’ve decided that it’s time to put the final nail in the coffin, say “thanks for the memories”, and transition into what I hope will be a fruitful career of staying fast enough to scare people who still train full-time for skiing. I could lament literally all day about how difficult skiing was for me for the past two seasons, but one thing I become much better at during that time is shrugging things off. Everyone has their battles, and the battle I was fighting to become a world class skier was almost entirely in my head, and it wasn’t a battle worth fighting anymore, so I gave it up. I learned so much about myself, especially over the course of this season past, and I think it’s going to be key in what I take on next. I’m happy to have almost completely come to terms with ending my ski career.

So, what next?

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Well, I’ve picked up a cycling habit. Maybe habit is the wrong word, I’ve taken to calling it a hobby, but I think it irks more people than it makes people laugh… I think it’s sort of funny, but I mostly think riding is fun.

It’s been a bit of a shock, literally and figuratively throwing myself (unfortunately) into mountain biking. Physically, it’s been a matter of trying to find riding legs in just a few weeks to try and compete with people who have been logging miles for months this season, and years in their careers. Things are coming around though, now that I have few thousand km’s in my legs they’re actually starting to be become effective and not just lead-weight! Technically, it’s been basics – filling in skill gaps that I honestly didn’t know existed (but all make sense – you don’t know what you don’t know, right?), and tempering a blend of calm confidence, nerves, and a hint of caution-to-the-wind to make sure the send-o-meter reading stays within an acceptable range. Culturally, it’s been a lot of learning and a bit of adjusting. I don’t want to be a disrupter, but I also want to stay true to what I know as an athlete. There are a lot of similarities between ski and bike racing culture and philosophy, but beneath the surface, there’s actually a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle differences I’m still not totally in tune with yet. Mentally and emotionally, it’s been a little whack, but I think I’m coming into a good place with it now. Finally setting some goals, and taking the level of seriousness up half a notch.

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In terms of what I’ve actually been doing this spring, now into summer… Just living the blue collar 9-5 and getting a bit of training in around that ;) . I’m working at Bikeland, in Barrie, again – so swing by if you have a flat or your chain falls off, I’m qualified to do those repairs. I also raced some Canada Cups – two in Quebec and the others right here at Horseshoe Valley and Hardwood, and was honestly a bit flabbergasted with where I found myself at times in these races. In the three races I finished, I was 8th, 4th, and 7th. The one race I DNF’d, I was in the top 4, trailing 2nd and 3rd, and riding super well through halfway but then psyched myself out and the rest was a history not entirely worth repeating… I’ve already dissected it enough, learned, and shrugged it off.

It’s hard to really say much about how the mountain bike “season” is going because there is no context to what I’m doing, and I don’t have any expectations of myself with it. Which is totally liberating compared to where I left off with skiing. Right now, I’m psyched to put in work and become a better rider. Between cruising the amazing trails around Oro with friends, fixing and working on the entire spectrum of bikes at Bikeland – the best, the worst, the bizarre… learning how to ride and race, and getting Andrew-approved race lines from coach Watson, crushing rise-and-grind rollerskis with Ryan, enjoying the new house and spending time with the family, everything is pretty good right now. I don’t currently have any long term plans for athletic, academic, or career pursuits, just a few ideas. For now, I’m biding time, putting hours in the training bank, and punching the time clock, setting up for whatever opportunities present themselves next.

And that’s all I’ve got. Not too bad for being out of the blog-o-sphere for so long. More than enough of my rambling for most, I’m sure… Anyway, I’ll toss a few pictures from races this spring down below, thank you to Hannah Clarke, Nicola Wenn, and the bromigo for being out there and getting snaps!

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Kingston OCup #2 – more mud than I ever needed or wanted to see in one place

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Mont Tremblent Canada Cup – another muddy day, survived my first elite race

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Hardwood Canada Cup – takeaway race motto: fake it ’til you make it

 

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