Ski season is here… And it’s strange to not be winding up for the pre-Christmas NorAms as I have for the past 7 years. As much as I loved coming out west for the early snow in the mountains, the racing never seemed to go very well for me. I still don’t really know why; maybe the altitude, too much training fatigue still in the system, not enough on snow time, nerves and mindset… And as with many things, it will remain a mystery.
I’ve still managed to find my way out to Silver Star, BC for
vacation, ahem – a training camp. With the bike industry coming into a lull as winter draws near, the inevitable layoff came and I suddenly found myself with a staggering amount of spare time with not much to do. We did have a shock storm roll through Oro Medonte on November 9th, bringing with it about 20cm of snow. It was enough to get everyone thinking about skiing, and even enough for me to spend a few days shuffling around on the rock skis, but real winter is still a ways off for Southern Ontario. Once it does arrive, I’m looking forward to sliding in to work ski sales/service and coaching/instructing for the season.
Piecing together a plan for the winter to try and get as much faster at riding a mountain bike as possible by next spring has been interesting. Progression and growth in endurance sport is a real peak-plateau model. The peaks represent improvement in absolute ability, and plateaus represent an established consistency at that level.
I’m pretty curious to see how much, if at all, better I’ll be next year… It’s easy to say: “Look how quick you caught on and how well you did right off the bat”, and insist that improvement will be inevitable given how little time I’ve spent on the bike. Yes, there are definitely a lot of fundamentals to hone, big-feature skills to realize, and cycling specific training to be put in, not to mention just plain old experience to gain… but I was on such a huge upswing in performance and ability over the course of last summer, that expecting to maintain the same upward trajectory is pretty ludicrous. Honestly, I think the most valuable improvement I could see is in consistency. If I could be the best of what I was this past summer
almost all the time, I think I’ll be markedly faster. Showing the potential to be excellent is one thing, but being able to show up and be THAT good on a regular basis is what separates.
All that said, in terms of a critical point in my “career” (quotations because, well, is it even such?), being faster next year is pretty essential if I’m going to find space to thrive in the sport. Despite having made a pretty loud entrance to mountain biking with my results as a U23 at Nationals and the Canada Games, they still only stand as two races. It was a show of potential, but I think a lot was left hanging after DNF’ing in Mont Sainte-Anne and subsequently not being able to compete at the World Championships. Almost every day I think about how badly I screwed up by smashing my kneecap in MSA. So much opportunity went out the window in that moment. Overall, I definitely lost out, but one place where I’m fairly content to hold firm with is the realm of the unknown. Still being new to the game and not having any expectations or references on how I might stack up at elite national or international level competitions holds a certain comfort. Ground zero still hasn’t been established yet, so this winter will be about setting up a foundation to launch from. Hopefully it’s solid and the forecast clear.
Anyway, thanks for checking in for the update and thought catalogue. I’ll be in Silver Star for the week for some on snow miles, altitude, catching up with ski-amigos, and just breaking up the work-life routine a bit. Give a shout if you’re out here!