I honestly cannot believe how fast time is flying by! I guess the saying is true…”Time flies when you’re having fun!” I’m going back about a month and a half now, to my very first world cup. It was quite the experience having been one of my biggest challenges to date, from the 13 hour drive to the very fast but difficulty race course.
From the moment I arrived there was a different type of feeling in the air. It was the feeling of accomplishment although I hadn’t even competed yet. There is of course, the ultimate goal of representing Canada in the Paralympics. I’m not there yet but you have to remember to stop and smell the roses along the way. These roses are those milestones or short term goals achieved. Many athletes don’t get the chance to compete on the world stage and it was quite an experience lining up at the start line beside countries like China, Italy, Korea, and more. Seeing my buddies all decked out in their Canada gear was a great reminder of what I am working towards.
The TT was first on the Thursday but not after being re-classified into a class with some of the fastest riders in the world! Our classes are divided up based on level of ability. Basically the more function you have going lower down, the higher your class. For the past 4 years I have been an H3. I believe that the changes I made this year with coaching, training, nutrition and everything else allowed me to simply get stronger. With getting stronger there were some weak muscles that just weren’t firing before. They are now firing and what that means is that I am now an H4 with newer and faster standards to make the Canadian National team. People asked me how I felt about this and if I was pissed at the classifiers decision. I simply said “No, it is what it is. If I have the ability and function to be in the H4 class then that’s where I should be.” (Classification is a very touchy subject throughout the world of disabled sport)
As far as I was concerned I just needed to get ready for the big ass hill. I had to climb 2 times in the TT and 6 times in the RR. It was a race like any other getting ready for the TT. That was the approach I took just so I wouldn’t trip myself out and have a panic attack 4 minutes before the race began and puke everywhere! Being at a world cup is a big deal! It started to rain and was looking quite gloomy for the start. Warm rain is not that bad, but this was not warm rain! After my warmup they corralled us 15 MINUTES BEFORE OUR START! I had just finished my warm up inside, sweating quite a bit and then went directly into the cold rain where I just layed there! Because I was alone at the race and unsupported, I was the only person in my class without someone standing over them with an umbrella! I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t upset, I was just thankful and taking in the experience! Seventeen minutes later my wheels were spinning as I left the start ramp and flew downhill hitting 78km/h into a fast left hander. The course was about a 9km loop with a killer hill about ¾ of the way through the course. On my second lap I barely made it back up the hill! I finished the race and immediately started looking for more gears! I finished 9th out of 10 and I was happy that I didn’t come last and finished the race!
With more gears and my arms feeling ready for the road race I went out feeling really optimistic and strong. Well, the best in the world will humble you real quick! I was with the main pack until the course started to go up! It was at that point where as they say, the men separated themselves from the boys. I spent the next 4.5 laps in no man’s land (all by myself) until getting passed by the lead group only a km from crossing the finish line and being able to complete the road race. Instead I finished a lap down. This was not at all a bad showing. Those gears saved my ass. This was an amazing learning experience, one that I should have had last year.
I know though that, everything happens in it’s right time. This is something that lately, I have been realizing. Patience is indeed a virtue. The gains that I have made this year show me that I am truly capable of achieving the end goal of one day representing my country on the world stage. As they say “back to the drawing board” or the weight room and long hours on the bike. I’m strong but on a scale of 1-10 I’m sitting around a 6…maybe 6.5! I have some work to do and with that being said I’m outta here!