Canadian Track Nationals day 3

The next morning, it was all about the team.  With only team events in the first session the day went by far faster than the other two days.  With little time between races, we only got off our bikes to change our handlebars for the different races, any other time spent was on the rollers.   

The team pursuit was up first, and we had a range of pursuiting ability on our team.  I was the team starter, and I’m very used to being a fast starter in my Individual pursuit.  I dialled it down for the team pursuit, but not enough.  My opening lap was about .6 faster than schedule.  Which is very far for me.  We settled onto a pace too fast for schedule, which didn’t help the weaker pursuiters on our team.  Of the four of us, I was to do two laps, Ethan and Quinn were to do one and tyler was to do a half.   Since I started too fast, near the end Ethan and Quinn were having difficulty holding the splits.  Realizing I was the strongest one on the team, it would be fastest if I just sat on the front for the last 3 laps.  We qualified for finals second which guaranteed us a silver medal.  

A short roller cool-down, handlebar switch and back on the rollers for warm-up once again.  We were ready for the team sprint.   Being defending champions we weren’t striving for a gold medal but a canadian record.  Because we had a slower avg speed at westerns (smaller velodrome)  we started on the back straight.  Not that it made much of a difference.   Ethan miss-timed his start slightly, but didn’t let that affect him.  Taking off eight tenths off his start from last year we were off to the races.  Tyler had a good exchange and was also a few tenths faster than the year before.  I layed off and rushed underneath, a legal exchange and finished for the team.  We hit the line with a time of 49.8, a new Canadian record by seven tenths.  We were all really happy with the ride, but still felt we could go faster.  


Bars flipped back again, and we were ready for our Team Pursuit final.  I started off slower in this ride, but the fatigue from the past 2 days of racing affected everyone’s legs.  We had difficulty holding the splits needed, and in the last 5 laps a poor exchange lead to one of our stronger riders getting dropped.  Needing three to finish, tyler, the kid who lasted longer than he should’ve had to finish. The moment he exchanged the red flag came out, meaning we were being caught so no more exchanges.  Being caught sucks, and with me on the front I was going make catching us as hard as possible, I picked it up as much as I could in the last 4 laps I was on the front.  They were still closing on us, but at least they didn’t catch us.  Team Ontario set a new Canadian Record, so we weren’t all that heart broken about a silver.  There was, however, celebrations for Tyler, we were all so proud of him for staying on we were all high fiving and smiling.


Back to the Team sprint and we were going for another record.  Ethan’s start was better and came out slightly faster than the first ride.  Tylers pull was where it all came together.  Taking off three-tenths he launched me into the final lap, where I held the same speed as ride one.  We finished 1.6 seconds faster than the other team, breaking our Canadian record and dropping it another three tenths.  


A short snack break, and the 500m was up next.  With such bright white lights and a dry 30+ degrees, just being in the velodrome is fatiguing.  We went down the stairs into the hallways below, where it must’ve been ten degrees colder.  We waited there, talking with friends from other teams and just being social while a parent or coach told us how long until u17 girls started.  Since we all knew how long it would take to warm up, and roughly how long after the u17 girls start was, we could determine when to go up. With about 45 minutes until my race I got changed back into my kit and started warm-up.  


This was one of the big events for me, and I wanted another Canadian record.  I had a long 25 minute warm-up, and a few dynamic skips, high knees, butt-kicks and A-drills before the race. With the start so important in a 500m Time Trial, I grabbed some weightlifting chalk from a small tupperware container near the ramp onto the track.   I tightened my shoes up as possible, trying to reduce any wiggle room in the shoe at all.  My start was good and intensity was high, I stayed out of the saddle for most of the opening lap until I was satisfied with my speed.  I sat down, tucked into my aero bars and continued to go max.  I crossed the line and saw my time as a 33.2, a new Canadian record, but slower than what I wanted.  Taking the time out of the picture, I was pretty happy with how the ride was executed.  My start gate timing was good, I had a good opening 150 meters, and I got into my aero position quickly.  I just wasn’t strong enough to go faster.


With the competition and photos done, I got changed into my pjs, went up into the stands and finally got to relax and enjoy watching the racing.  The madison, a U19 race only, was the last race of the competition which made for great spectating.  Once the competition had wrapped up, the bikes were packed and we were on our way home.


Canadian Track Nationals Day 2

With a clean sweep on day one and racing going well past 9 pm, falling asleep was seriously difficult.  A 6 am morning the next day made for little sleeping, and creating the famous day 2 feeling of “I don’t even want to look at a bicycle again”.


Opening event was the Flying 200,  which is a timed event in which the last 200 meters are timed of 900m.  In the U17 category, there seems to be a 11.7-second barrier.  In all three years of me competing at the u17 nationals, none of my competitors were able to crack 11.7.  This year was no different.  Being defending champion, I was the last rider, with the fastest time posted of 11.7.  My lead in was good, my pedaling was smooth, and I held the black line.  Coming across the line I knew I had a faster time than posted, but I didn’t think it was as good as it turned out to be.  Posted time was 11.0, or about 4km/h faster than the next fastest rider.  

1/8th final of the match sprint was immediately after, and with the new rules the riders are more closely matched.  In the old rules, first would compete against sixteenth, second against fifteenth, etc.  In the new rules, first competes against ninth, second against tenth, etc.  Since I qualified first, I was matched with ninth.  Through bike check and I was faced with the Ipad again, this time with 2 cards.  I drew position one.  Drawing #1 in a qualifier against an opponent a fair amount slower, makes the easiest tactic a razor.  What often happens is the faster rider does not respect the slower rider enough.  If you don’t respect the slower riders ability, you won’t accelerate to the proper speed with a lap and a half or even a lap to go with the idea that you can just cruise to the line.  The slower rider is able to jump you, and with one lap to go if the slower rider takes the sprinters lane in front of you, it becomes very difficult to pass.  This almost happened to me in my 1/8th final.  I wasn’t way to slow, but I wasn’t very close to proper speed either.   Luckily I reacted quickly and didn’t let him have enough room to move down in front of me, and I was able to move on to the ¼ final.  

My Points Race was 60 laps (15km) with sprints every 10 laps.  Doing too much work in a points race seems to be my specialty, for in this race, just like westerns, I did way too much work.  Doing too much work does have an advantage, I get a lot of early points.  Unfortunately, I start having difficulty getting points at the end.   This wasn’t much of a problem in the old rule book, now however, the last sprint is worth double.  This creates the issue of me contesting 4 sprints, and having a total of 11 points.  Second place rider contested 2 sprints and had a total of 7 points.  Even though I had 4 more points than them, and contested double their sprints, they could still beat me from a single placement in the final sprint.  If he won the final sprint and I got second, he would win the race.   The last sprint was a struggle to win, but I pulled it out of the hat for the fourth title of the weekend.  


In the ¼ finals Kurt recommended I try controlling the race from behind if I draw position two.   There were a few possible tactics, but since we had never attempted one of them before, we might as well give that a go.  The plan was to force position one to go early, by gaining height on the opponent.  With just less then 2 laps to go, I drove up the banking hard, force one of two reactions.  The opponent either attacks early, (the prefered) or picks up speed and follows me up track.  When the opponent attacks early, I have vertical height on them and with that the speed of going down the banking.  As well, I have a draft slingshot when they become fatigued.   The other situation is they move up track to meet you, This opens the door for you to go early.  When someone moves up track, they slow down, If they are slowing down while you are accelerating, you can open a very big gap, very quickly.  So what did my opponent do? Nothing.  He was perfectly happy rolling around on the bottom of the track.  At this point I had absolutely no idea what to do, since it wasn’t one of the two options.  He pretty much took the book of “how to Match Sprint” threw it out the window.  Flabbergasted, I just went for it.  I flew around him at mock one, and just rolled to the finish.


The Quarter Finals had 2 great examples of people not respecting their opponents, one didn’t razor fast enough, as well didn’t stand up to accelerate once he realized his mistake.  The other believed they could pass on the last straight away, so just sat in the draft.


There was a 3 hour break after the conclusion of the morning session and with so much time Hushang, one of the coaches, filled up a garbage can with water and ice.  Ice baths between sessions, and at 4pm the second session began.  


The first event up was the Match Sprint semi-final, and seeing how we had difficulty assessing the effectiveness of the attempted strategy in the quarter-final, we decided to give it another go.  At the exact same time as the quarter-final ride, I gunned it to the rail, and what response do I receive?  The exact same.  By this point I started to get a little annoyed, so I went.  Better in this ride however, when he saw me going, he turned 90 degrees up track.  Maybe he was trying to spook me into not going, but as far as I was concerned he was going uphill while I was going down.  It was a cruisy spin to the finish.

The semi-finals however, are best of 3.  Which means we would have another go at each other.  This time, I was leading it out.  It was a boring ride as far as match sprints go, with us just rolling around for a 1.5 laps.  There was a pretty obvious lack of understanding of match sprinting by my opponent in this ride.  He was either told or picked up through Match Sprinting videos that you stay back from your opponent in second wheel.  It seemed he didn’t understand why however.   With a lap and a half to go there must’ve been 25+ metres between him and I.  Which may have not been much of a problem if he had 5 or 6 metres of vertical elevation on me, But he didn’t, he was below me.  I just went, this is stupid, and faked a hard attack.  He jumped after me, and I just slowly accelerated all the way around the track until the finish, making him unable to pass.


Next up, the good ol’ elimination race.  The only Individual event I didn’t win, and the only event I didn’t medal in, and it was 100% my fault.  Early in the race I stayed top 5-10 ish, A bit further back than I would have prefered but it was a very active bunch which continuously folded over itself.  The pace was relatively slow however, which didn’t make positioning easy.  With 10 ish riders to go, was where the problems started occurring.  People close to me started to get eliminated and I got boxed once.   I was able to push my way out of the box when a hole opened up and I slipped out.  Most people, especially smart people would go, that was close, let’s get somewhere safer.  Not me though, no, I went straight back to where I was previously.  Error number one.  I managed to stay safe in another elimination after someone fell off the pace of the bunch.   Coming around with 1.5 laps till the next elimination, Kurt, my coach, yelled “there are two riders behind you, get out.”   I heard him absolutely perfectly, and I knew exactly what to do.  So what did I do?  Absolutely nothing.  I just sat there, and was eliminated.   I can’t even put into words how I felt after that race.  I wasn’t tired physically, but I must’ve been tired mentally. since it wasn’t a conscious decision to go,  “my coach is wrong, don’t listen to him”.  That wasn’t the mind process at all, but that was the outcome.   It was a great learning experience,  but still beat myself up about it for days afterwards.


With a little bit of cool down time, and a few people teasing me about being an idiot I accepted it was my fault, and that I have to get over the poor poor me I didn’t get another medal.  I laughed along with the teasing, since some of them were pretty good, including Félix Pelletier’s comment; “Now you know how we feel!” due to the fact that Dylan Bibic, who won the race, was a U15.  “Riley got Riley-ed”  was repeated a fair amount.


After the medal ceremony, during which my mother and teammates teased “hey aren’t you about to go on the… oh wait”.  Pretty used to the teasing and being the one who often teased others I was ok with it,  and was getting pretty excited.  Fellow British Columbian, Ethan Ogrodniczuk, was in the final against me which made strategic talking slightly awkward as I often walked right between him and his coach during such talks since we shared the same pen.  This often led to absolutely barbaric tactic ideas when I came close, just to tease.   Included ideas such as sticking a pump into my spokes while we were riding or losing my wheels on the start line.   Ethan being my sprint and pursuit teammate, I knew they were all jokes and nothing of the sort would ever happen.   


Ride one and I drew second.  Kurt and I, annoyed with the fact that this strategy was still working, and nobody was countering properly lead to us agreeing to do it again, hoping Ethan was more experienced.  Exact same thing as in the quarterfinals and the semi finals, and Ethan did handle it better.  Not enough that it changed the effectiveness at all, but the reaction was sorta in the right path.  As I went up he did too, but nowhere near fast enough.  He also stopped looking at one point, not so much a fault, but it probably still cost him the race.  I dove underneath him, and being the final, didn’t soft pedal until I saw Kurt on the home straight away telling me to chill.


The second ride was pretty well ridden by Ethan, he controlled it from the back, pushing me up track by raising his own height behind me.  Coming up to one lap to go I was riding the rail looking over my right shoulder.  I was able to see him stand up and initiate, diving down toward the black.  The rule with the sprinters lane (the space between the black and the red at the bottom of the track) is whoever is in it first has the right of way.  In which case, I did a sharp descent and sprinted down, taking the lane first.  Knowing he would be close by, I went max all the way to the finish to be safe. I took the win and with it my fifth title of the weekend.


Canadian Track Nationals Day 1

Canadian Track Nationals.

IP – Riley Pickrell (BC) Tripleshot Cycling Clu

The monday morning flight out of Victoria with a bike box seems to be when the excitement for track nationals starts to build.  With an uneventful flight, and everyone’s baggage arriving, it was a fairly uneventful day.  Bikes were built and we got on the track to get rid of our “airplane legs”. The next few days were a mixture of chilling around the rented house and riding the track, while panicking every hour or two about how bad our legs feel and second guessing ourselves.  


Friday rolled around and people would have been far more excited had it not been the most dreaded event up first.  The IP or Individual pursuit is one of the harder events of the weekend and due to a new rule change the U17 now have to do two rides, a qualifier and a final where the top two qualifiers ride off for gold while the next two ride off for bronze.  Being defending champion I had the advantage of being in the last heat, which allowed me to go only as fast as needed to make the gold final.  The fastest time posted, the one I had to beat was a mid 2:23.  On paper, it seemed easy, and when i am able to do sub 2:20, I also thought it would be easy.  What I didn’t realize however, was a 2:19 and a 2:23 feel exactly the same.  The 2:19 is obviously harder but it doesn’t feel that way, they both hurt, a lot.  I went into the final not like it was going to be a walk in the park, but I didn’t think it would hurt like it did. I made the gold final by about a second with Sydney flageole bray, my main competition in the IP, qualifying first just under a second in front of me.  The panic button was being pressed full tilt by now, with the mindset that I should be able to do 2:19, 2:18, and that a 2:22.6 hurt super badly, it was not good on the mental side of it.  


The IP final was after the Keirin which forced me to put away my panic button and be completely confident in my abilities.  With the new rules of the Keirin the dangerous sketchy fight for position on the bike is avoided, which is quite lame.  As well, the speed is slower due to the motorbike spending less time accelerating, and the actual “race” (after the motorbike pulls off) distance being increased.  Before every race you have to go through “Bike Check”, which is pretty much the anti-doping for bicycles. They check that the geometry of your bike is legal, and the gearing (for U17’s) is the proper length per one pedal revolution.  After that, depending on the race, position on the line must be drawn.  At local competitions, playing cards, or poker chips with numbers written on them are used. At nationals however, it was fancy.  An Ipad with red squares equalling the number of positions in the race.  As each person chose their name and then pressed a red square a number would appear, and be linked to their name.  The next person would have one less red card to pick, and so on and so forth until every rider has a number. In the qualifier heat I drew 6th but with top 2 qualifying and in a easier heat it wasn’t a big deal.  In the race I started moving up with 1.5 laps to go, taking the lead with 1 lap to go.  Just cruising to the line after that secured me a spot in the ½ final.  

A short break and I was back into the IP, I was a little distraught and second guessing myself.  During warm-up I had a chat with Kurt (coach) about what I should shoot for.  We settled on the idea to go for a 2:20, with the idea that he was maxed in ride one, and there was no way he could go 1.5 seconds faster. If he could however, then he was the stronger rider and “good job, high five, you did everything you could do.  Put it to bed and be a good loser”.  I used a slightly longer, intenser warm-up then ride one, to really make sure the lactate wasn’t a shock to the system.  Five minutes before the start, and I was in the ready area, chilling and acknowledging how much this was going to hurt.  Kurt made one last comment before moving up into the gate.  “You two are quite evenly matched, the last 3 laps, those are just going to be a slugfest of who wants it more, therefore, the real question is how much do you want it?”  Kurt left me to ponder that during the time period of loading the bike into the gate.  The 50 second gate timer is the biggest anxiety builder ever.  Most of the time you sit there for 50 seconds thinking of everything that could go wrong. I can’t remember sitting in the starting gate at all in preparation for that event.  Whether it was because I did so many standing starts that weekend I don’t remember any of them or if I was just in “the Zone” no clue.  I had a great start and settled right on pace.  That was really the first time I had done two pursuits in one competition, and I didn’t realize how much the first pursuit took out of you.  By lap 3 I was seriously suffering.  Focusing on my breathing and trying not to panic I was able to maintain my splits of 16.7 (54km/h) for another 2 laps.  In cycling they have this saying “going cross-eyed” I thought it was just an expression for the longest time.  It’s not an expression.  By lap 5 everything was super blurry.  Just as I begin to feel my legs lock up, or refuse to pedal at the 128 rpm needed, I realized this is when the slugfest actually began.  Convincing myself I wanted it more and maintained the cadance, barely, for two additional laps.  After that pedalling was reduced to weak attempts at moving pedals.  The last lap was horrific with the last half lap pretty much just the momentum of the bike rolling to the finish.  The Guns sounded so close together I didn’t know which gun was for me and which was for sydney.  Since I started on the back straight, the screen in front of me contained the live timing results.  I was so happy to see the screen with a green +0.000 meaning I was the fastest time.

Exhausted but super wired a long cooldown before podiums and back onto the rollers for Keirin 1/2 Finals warm-up.  Through bike check and in the waiting area, just as an official is coming around with an Ipad.  The last one to pick and unluckily enough I picked first.  Other positions you have some wiggle room on possible strategies.  Position one you only have one strategy.  For the most part, if you’re in the lead in a Keirin, and someone passes you, it’s bad.  In which case, in my semi-final the moment i felt someone was moving up I accelerated to the point of them sitting at my hip with right at the place where they feel they can pass eventually, but will never actually pass.  Sitting at that speed prevents anyone else from passing since they would have to go three abreast, with one to go, I picked it up a few times.  Giving the pace a few defiant “kicks” to distance any riders or prevent anyone from passing once the kid at my hip finally began travelling backwards. I cruised into finals without much difficulty.  

Finals were only 10-ish minutes after the completion of the semi, pretty much enough time to do nothing but stay in the waiting zone.  I hopped on the rollers for a few minutes before heading back through Bike check and roll out and the magical Ipad.  This time position 6 was flipped up.  Good ol’ last wheel.  Once again Kurt talked me through strategy for this race.  Coles notes were as follows; leave a gap, wait until last lap unless an opportunity arises, then rush like a madman.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use my madman rushing abilities.  Tyler, the 5th placed rider, moved up early.  This can cause a chain reaction of people trying to get on his wheel creating a wall 4 people wide.  Hopping on, or more correctly close to his wheel allowed me to rush around him slightly but still prevented the human wall from blocking my way to the finish.  I came around tyler, who was leading with a quarter of a lap to go and rolled to the finish with a comfortable gap.  

Following the trend of the day with the events happening in rapid fire succession, the scratch race was up shortly after the kierin.  It was an extremely boring race as far as races go with few attacks being attempted and people just rolling around nicely.  With 21 laps to go however, i was riding near the blue line.  The rider below me stood up.  This isn’t a cause for concern of course, riders often stand up to deal with accelerations in the bunch or to stretch their legs.  However, just after the rider stood up he made a sharp right, directly into me.  Before I had even realized what was happening this rider bounced off me like a pinball taking himself out, along with 5 other riders.  The race was neutralized while one of the riders was taken off the track in a wheelchair.  The race resumed and once again people rolling around nicely.  With 3 laps to go, there was a lull, during which, another British Columbian, Mr. Ethan O made a mad flyer at the perfect moment.  He gained almost half a lap on the main group in less than a lap, but by that time a mad chase had begun.  With one lap to go i attacked over the top of the Chase group, Ethan only 60 metres ahead of us.  I managed to pass Ethan with 60 metres to go taking the win with 4 others passing Ethan before the line. 

Western Challenge

After countless social media posts from my more-than-annoyed grandfather about my poor blogging habits, I have finally been voluntold to at least write something.  Western Challenge was last weekend (Feb 24-25th) so, my ability to procrastinate prolonged the blog until an event I could write about.  I’m considering it a win.

Western Challenge began on Friday, which meant an early morning of traveling for the select few Islanders. Awake at five, we arrived at the velodrome by 9:30 with racing beginning at 11:00. Surprisingly, it was an anxiety-free trip for a vehicle heading to a bike race. By the time we realized the first event was the Individual Pursuit or IP (two km individual event, can be as long as four km for specific age categories), we realized it may not be that enjoyable of morning.   After arriving, unpacking, and getting dressed, we were ready to ride.  A basic pursuit warm up followed, consisting of 40 laps cruising, five lap acceleration with the last lap at race pace.  After a quick gear change, I was back on the track doing three laps at race pace.  My race began around noon and was a pretty sloppy pursuit. The lap splits were further from each other than I would have preferred.   I didn’t go fast enough the first four laps or so as well. In the end, I was about 7% off my all-time PB and about 3% off my track PB.  Nowhere near the time, I wanted, but I had to focus on the bigger picture: my goals for the IP at nationals and how to achieve them. Realizing this ride was a preparation for nationals was helpful, but I still wasn’t proud of it. Luckily it was fast enough to let me take the top spot.  Which is extremely lucky, with second and third taking place within 7-tenths-of-a-second of my time.

Kurt Innes calling Splits. Photo: jgimages

Team Sprint was up next (two or three riders depending on gender, each rider leads one lap, time is taken after two or three laps respectively).  The team I am on is the exact same as our first national championships together eleven months ago and we have really come together.  Our ride went pretty well with a few errors which may have cost us a tenth or two, but with a winning margin of 2.5 seconds, we weren’t too worried about the errors costing us the race.

Team Pursuit (four riders covering either three or four km, time is stopped on the third rider to cross the line) was the last event of the Friday session for me and through the last few training camps, our team has actually started to come together quite nicely.  With splits varying less than a tenth we’re beginning to work as a team.  Race day was up and we surprised ourselves. Splits felt easy and the pace accelerated constantly from 48km/h to 52km/h in the last km, with an accidental surge by yours truly, I kicked up the speed by another 2.5km/h which unfortunately caused the group to split.  Since it happened in the last 400m of the race, it didn’t have a very big effect, but had we been up against some more competitive teams it would have definitely dropped us out of medal contention.  Luckily we weren’t at nationals, for the next fastest teams were over fifteen seconds slower and it wasn’t an issue.

Photo: jgimages

The following morning racing began again with sprint tournament and qualifiers (200m speed time for the one on one sprint).  With a fairly intense but short effort, a massive warm-up wasn’t required.  With 35 laps on the track and a quick acceleration in warm-up gear, it felt like enough.  A good 30 minutes of chilling and spinning on the rollers and I was up.  The flying 200 is a surprisingly technical event for how simple it sounds: ride as fast as you can for 200m.  The ideal, however, is hitting peak speed, just before the line, then being able to maintain the speed for the entire distance. I must have done it fairly well having qualified first by .4 of a second.

The rest of the morning session was spent Match Sprinting.  Match Sprinting is an interesting event for most spectators who have never raced one, don’t understand why the riders don’t just go as hard as they can for the whole time but go slow for the first little bit.  With Match Sprinting, it is very rare that someone sprints from the line and wins it due to the effects of drafting and the high intensity of the first rider.  The second rider normally passes just before they cross the line, deeming the strategy useless.  Another issue with going from the line is it is, plain and simple, very hard. With up to ten rides, a large amount of fatigue is generated.  I, luckily, got a buy into the quarterfinals due to having one of the fastest times.  Once there, race tactics depend on a few things: how fast your opponent is, what position you draw (front or back), and the risk to cost.  The faster your opponent is, the riskier the tactics are required to beat them; however, if you have to be in the back to execute your tactic, and you draw front, you have a problem.  One of the longer-term factors is the cost to risk ratio.  If you perform the most risk-free tactics all the way through your earlier qualifying races, you’re going to be too fatigued to win the finals or possibly even semifinals.  However, if you use a riskier tactic you will have far less fatigue, but the possibility of making an error such as mistiming your rush will leave you out of the tournament on the 1/16th finals.  It’s like dancing on a wire, before you even race.

This is the first ride of the Final in which I used a safer tactic.  I am the rider with the blue back and Black Sleeves.

The second ride I attempted a less fatiguing but a riskier tactic, waiting as late as possible.

Afternoon session kicked off with Keirin Qualifiers. The Keirin is a race which begins with a motorcycle leading for the first four laps, accelerating until the end of the four laps.  After the first four laps, the motorbike pulls off the track, and for the last four laps, the race is on.  First one to complete the distance wins. The tactics of this race are very similar to the match sprint, especially in qualifying. Only two or three people of the six qualify depending on the competition.  In which case, an example of a safe, costly tactic would be sitting on the front and picking up the speed gradually for the four remaining laps, not letting anyone pass you.  Extremely low risk, but very physically taxing.  Sitting third wheel, and moving out on the last straight away, hoping nobody will pass you: that would be a low-cost high-risk tactic.  Being a qualifier, I rode it from the front since I had a slower heat, which meant the actual effort required wasn’t as great as it would’ve been in a faster heat.  I won the heat, which meant I, along with two others, progressed to the final.  In the second qualifier heat, three others advanced giving us the six-up final.  Before the race, cards with numbers between one and six are flipped by each rider; whichever card they flip is their position behind the bike.  I drew number one, which wasn’t ideal.  Four laps on the front at high speed leaves you with little-to-no hope of winning the final kick to the line.   Luckily, almost immediately Tyler Davies, who drew sixth, went over the top of the group to the front since he had little chance of winning from such a distance back.   Thanks to this I had great positioning in second wheel for about two laps. However, with two laps to go the rear four riders started attempting to pass.  In track cycling, you aren’t allowed to pass beneath a rider who is riding beneath the “red line” which is twelve inches above the bottom of the track.  In which case, a rider who is in second or third can be “boxed in.” Being boxed in means you have a rider directly in front of you, and one above you and slightly ahead.  This prevents you from forcing your way out, which is possible if the rider above you has his handlebars behind yours.  Noticing the riders coming up beside me, I had to move out and go the front.  After I kicked, I rode the bottom of the track with no idea where the other riders were.  I ended up winning the race without much contention.

Just chilin’ Photo jgimages
(i’m the rider with the red helmet)

The most simple of all track races was up next: the Scratch Race.  As basic as a race gets, first one to complete the race’s distance wins (race distance varies between 5 – 15 km depending on age and ability).  Beginning to feel the fatigue of racing, I was playing it safe, doing enough work to keep the pace high and not let anyone lap the field, but nothing more. The race was fairly mellow with everyone just rolling through nicely.  With four laps to go, I found myself in second wheel, with first place just drilling it because if he swung up it would be highly unlikely he would be able to get back on in a good enough position to sprint.  It became an exact replica of the Keirin final.  Once I noticed someone coming over the top with two laps to go, I kicked and ended up taking the win on the line.

The Elimination Race, Miss and Out, and Devil Takes the Hindmost, are all names for the next stressful event.  It is actually a simple event; every second lap the last person to cross the line is eliminated from the race. The last one left is the winner.  The two main methods of winning this race are either riding at 40-50km/h on the front of the group, or sitting at the back of the group and just getting past the second to last place rider on every sprint.  The latter tactic is known as playing the devil and is arguably the hardest way to win the Elimination Race but by far the most fun.  Playing it safe, I went to the front, dancing in the second wheel area for most of the race.  Another interesting part of the Elimination Race is that you can easily beat someone far stronger than you by out-positioning them.  Team tactics aren’t allowed on the track, but you can work with other riders to accomplish the same goal. For example, if a rider is boxed in an elimination race, it is common for people participating in the boxing telling other riders to ride faster, slower, higher, or lower to maintain the box on the rider.  Then, on the finishing straight, the riders controlling the box surge, moving themselves ahead of the rider who was stuck, and eliminating them. This happened a few times in our race, though ever to me. I was often the one boxing the riders.  With about five riders left in the race, I moved to first position and sat there, not letting anyone pass me.  Just after the third place rider was eliminated I swung up track. The other rider left swung up in front of me. As he was going up, I sprinted once again, diving beneath him.  Luckily his body had already flipped to recovery mode in the short amount of time swinging up the track and I was able to beat him in the sprint.

Photo: jgimages

The final race of the night and it was already past 10:00 pm. With a 70 lap points race to do, I wasn’t very excited, to say the least.  Points Race consist of sprints every 10 laps, with points given out to the top four who cross the line as follows: 5,3,2,1.  An additional 20 points are gained if you lap the field.  To be quite honest, I raced this race very poorly.  I did way too much work, closing attacks and breaks alone.  I ended up winning but worked way too hard for the victory.

Western Challenge was a very successful event, in both results and learning.  Special thank yous to Kurt Innes for the coaching; the team Sponsors, for their support and contribution to the team; Power2Max North America for the Power Meter and, last but not least, The Canadian Sport School for helping me excel on the track and in the classroom.

‘til next time,
Riley Pickrell

Tour de le Releve and BC Superweek.

We have a double header here! Tour De le Releve (July 6-10) and BC Superweek (12-16)

I flew out to Quebec City on the second to get onto the time zone as well as getting rid of “airplane legs.”  We (Team BC) stayed in Quebec City  for a few days doing short rides and sightseeing.   On the 4th we drove out to Rimouski, Quebec where the race was being held.  For the first few days we pretty much did the same thing in Rimouski that we did in Quebec City, nothing exciting happened so I’ll skip it.

Race day was on the 6th  and it was a 7km Team Time Trial.  It was the first time in a few years that race day had a tailwind as opposed to a headwind so everyone was super excited.   Warm up seemed to go well for everyone and in typical Riley fashion, Pjs were on until a few minutes before the start.  We were flying from the gate and with a 20km/h tailwind we were going 55-60 on the slight downhill.  The course had 3 main sections, the downhill tailwind section ,  a flat crosswind, and an uphill tailwind.  Once we turned the corner to the crosswind section we moved into an echelon.  (when in a crosswind you ride beside and about half body to maximize the rafting, google it).

Photo credit: Tour de la Releve

Unfortunately, the memo wasn’t given out before the ride that in the crosswind we would do an echelon.  Once in the echelon the rider in the wind must swing off the front into the wind, if they swing the wrong way they could take out the entire bunch.  Well this unfortunately happened.  Ben, not realizing we were doing an echelon swung into Conor, who was beside him.  I was rotating back when this happened and Isaac was just barely dancing off the back so luckily it was only Conor affected and it didn’t cause a crash.   Conor did lose his visor and there was quite a bit of chaos.  Isaac, who was dancing just off the back slammed on his brakes and couldn’t get back on after that.  Ben was a bit rattled and no longer able to pull.  With 3.5 km left and only 2 of us our odds weren’t looking amazing,  however it didn’t seem to be much of a problem.  On the uphill we were sitting around 51-52 km/h.   We ended up winning the TTT by a mere 7 seconds and averaged 51 km/h.  We were pretty happy with it and figured we probably could’ve squeezed another 10 seconds out of it without the shenanigans.

The next morning was stage 2, a 74 (or so) km stage with 1200m of elevation gain in the span of 35km.   There was pretty much no team tactic discussion before the race but it seemed to work out fine.  It was a pretty crappy day, raining and cold, very miserable.  within the race there were sprint points (for the green jersey) and KOM points (for the polkadot jersey, KOM – king of the mountain).  11 km in was the first sprint and there wasn’t much of a contention for it.  I figured I would just test the waters, see how well people were sprinting.  It wasn’t a very hard sprint and I picked up maximum points fairly easily.  At kilometre 17 there was a KOM at the top of a fairly short but steep climb.  Ben and I knew Conor had a good shot at winning the KOM so we kept him at the front leading into it. Once at the base Conor went and Ben just tagged along.  Me being at the front of a 60 rider pack I slowly dropped back going up the climb, until when i reached the top I went up it far slower than everyone else.  There was a short plateau at the top before the climbing started once more and everyone slowed down by quite the margin.  Since I was still fresh I rolled to the front once again, just trying to stay out of danger.   The climb was a kind of rolling climbs which I didn’t find too difficult.  One point at kilometre 24 (or around that) was a long consistent section of the climb.  maybe 5-6%.  Conor was sitting on the front, with Ben on his wheel going up the climb quite comfortably.  I was sitting around 10th wheel at this point and I could see (and hear) people suffering.  I wasn’t suffering at that point, so I figured I would yell up to Conor and tell him to pick up the pace, shred some of the weaker riders who are dangerous in the pack.  He didn’t hear me when I called so I decided to roll to the front an pick up the pace myself.  However, if I roll to the front looking aggressive, it would seem like i was attacking.  People would swarm and we would lose our control on the front.  Instead, I straighten my spine, locked my core, and rolled to the front as smoothly as I could, taking the odd drink from my water bottle too.  Once I hit the front I picked it up by a few clicks,  and once we hit the top I took a look back to see if it worked.  Everything was shattered.  We had a lead group of 7 then the main group was no bigger than 25 after us. The rest were either trying to bridge up to the lead, or falling off the back.  It didn’t seem like a good idea to have all 3 of us in the break and Isaac crashed out early so we wouldn’t have any representative in the bunch.  Knowing Conor and Ben climb better than I do I dropped back to the bunch while Conor and Ben tried to get the breakaway working.  Unfortunately, none of them would.  However, as the groups were coming back together,  Ben rolled of the front with another guy.  4 km down the road, that other guy came rolling back to the bunch.  Ben was still out there.  At about the 40km mark, there had been no other successful breakaways however the pace was fairly high.  I was sitting second wheel going up this small roller when I heard my name shouted out, looking over I saw Conor flying up the hill on the other side of the road.  I jumped hard and was able to gap everyone and the 2 of us had a breakaway going.  From the day before, everyone realized we were extremely strong and all hell broke lose once we went.  Apparently there were 3 separate crashes in the space of 300m as everyone was scrambling to get onto a wheel.    Conor and I were drilling it trying to stay way from this pack.  Every time I looked down the Garmin told me 50-55 km/h and while going up the hills we never dropped below 40.  Yet, we still weren’t getting much time.  At the 55 km point I started to fatigue and cramp while we were going up the last KOM of the day and Conor dropped me.  The chasers were only 20 seconds back at that point and saw everything.  This lead to numerous attacks from the chasers up the climb and by the time they caught me at the top, the group of 9 had been reduced to a group of 2.  I jumped on the back of them and sat there not having to do any work because of Ben and Conor up the road.   As the 2 chasers closed in on Conor I jumped them, hoping that I would be able to bridge up to Conor once more and stay away.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and we got caught 3 km from the finish.   There were a few mini attacks after that but not much until about 1.5km to go.  In that last kilometre and a half there is a short 700m climb.  I was on the front at that point and I looked over to see Conor throwing his bottles.  When Conor throws his bottles, that’s when he attacks.  I swung over to the opposite side of the road hoping to make the distance between Conor and the other 2 riders as large as possible.  As Conor’s gap grew to 50m I figure I could bridge up to him.   He plateaued at 50 meters and I started to get worried that if I attempted to bridge the other 2 might chase and close the gap on Conor.  Sitting back, I waited till 150m to go and won the sprint quite easily.   Ben ended up winning the stage by 2 minutes, Conor had 6 seconds on me and the next 2 riders.

The next day was the individual time trial.  Those are kinda boring so I will make it quick.   My warm up felt really good,  but it still wasn’t amazing. It could be that my early season training was all based around the short punchy efforts of the track, but I just wasn’t feeling it.   Ben won the thing, Conor second, I was 6th, and Isaac came in 27th.

Photo credit: Tour de la Releve
Photo credit: Tour de la Releve

The next day was the Criterium and with Conor, Ben and I getting call ups, we decided to go from the gun.   It didn’t work at all but it set the tone for the race.  From the gun, Ben and I got clipped in right away and we were off.  Conor had some difficulties and didn’t get on to Ben.   Everyone else filled in behind us and we kept the first lap and a half at 55 km/h.  After that the paced settled down yet never by much.  It was one of the more dynamic Crits I’ve been in with and average speed of 45 km/h.  At one point a rider came up beside me and said to me, “You BC kids, you guys don’t F*@k around!”  I responded with a laugh and an attack followed by a string of curses by the same rider.   As we approached the last lap, the crashes started to become quite plentiful.  In a bunch of 60 riders all fighting for position, it was understandable.  I got myself into an OK position coming into the last lap, 7th wheel but the team on the front had a lead out train organized and with 2 lead out men and their sprinter I wasn’t as concern with my position.  Coming into the back straight the 2 riders in front of me were bumping  each other fighting for the leadout train’s sprinter’s wheel.  After one of the more aggressive bumps they sprung apart by about a metre.  With that door open I sprinted for about one pedal revolution to get onto the sprinter’s wheel.  The 2 riders initially tried to fight for the wheel but from a good amount of track training they realized they wouldn’t be stealing the wheel from me and dropped back.  The leadout train was organized amazingly, and with the last lap nearly 60km/h nobody dared attacking exiting the last corner.  The finish wasn’t far after so the sprint was tighter than I would have preferred. I was still able to win the sprint by about half a bike length though.

That brings us to the messy last stage.  There was one big climb consisting of 3 steep sections from 15-20% and the rest between 5 and 8% for 2.2 km.  The rest was rolling descent to the start /finish, then it was all repeated 4 times.  I was feeling pretty good coming into the stage and was climbing well on the other hilly stage so I wasn’t all that worried about being dropped.  The climb started immediately after the start which was a bit of a slog but I didn’t mind it all that much.  We came into the climb with a bit of speed and went up it at a respectable click however not terribly difficult. Right near the top there was a minor acceleration, one you don’t even need to stand up for.   Right as I did a sharp pedal stroke I heard a pop and was falling over.   I had broken my chain and was unable to get unclipped so fell over like someone at a stoplight.  I got up, stood on the side of the road waiting for the team car, pretty boring.  With the group shattering as we were going up, it took forever for the team car to get to me.  It took even longer to fix the chain.  Once the chain was fixed there was nobody left.  I was way off the back.   I rode up the last section of the climb then after I had a serious motor pacing session.  We had a massive gap to close but eventually, 12 km later, we were moving up to the back of the caravan.  Luckily we arrived right before one of the steepest descent of the course.  In a gear smaller than a junior gear (50-15 for anyone who understands it)  it’s impossible to pedal on the descents.   I told Wes and John (in the team car)  to go ahead. Once they were 10 meters ahead of me I sprinted into the back of there car.  I was going 70 when I started going around the car, then the descent started.  I was sitting on my top tube trying to get as much speed as I could.  After about 90 km/h the wind resistance becomes too much and it’s difficult to go any faster.  Luckily I had all these cars in the race caravan to slingshot off of.  I would accelerate into their slipstream and right before hitting the bumper I would go to the next one.  Unfortunately the caravan isn’t the most logical of traffic patterns with cars moving out, in, forwards, backwards and passing them at Mach 10 it was a little nerve shaking.  Once I made contact with the back of the bunch I realized 2 things:  one; I hit 109 km/h which was awesome and two; a little less awesome,  there was a split and the lead group was 5 min up the road.  I was not happy to hear that and I wasn’t allowed to be motor paced up to the leaders.  I sat in for a few km and realized nobody was motivated to pull back the bunch.  I started doing TT pace long pulls on the front to try to shrink the gap.   The second time up the climb, Heather called a time split of 2:40.  With nobody doing any work  I wondered if I would be able to close the gap solo.  I was sceptical but at that point I didn’t have much to lose.  I went over the top alone and TT’d attempting to close the gap.

Photo Credit: Tour de la Releve
Photo Credit: Tour de la Releve

The group I had left didn’t want to let me go and liked having a carrot so 15 km later they pulled me back, however they promised to work and we had already closed a good portion of the gap.  The promise to work didn’t seem to hold very long as we had 3-4 people doing pulls where the other 10-15 weren’t doing any.  As we passed through the start/ finish a time gap of 1:15 was called, which was a huge decrease. Big enough that you could close onto dropped riders coming from main bunch on the climb, and because the caravan is stuck behind them you could draft off the caravan after the top, which would be a massive slingshot to the front.  Heading up the climb for the 3rd time however luck wasn’t with me.  Due to my pathetic fall after breaking my chain I bent the derailleur ever so slightly.  Well anyone who rides bikes knows what happens when you do that.  When shifting into my easiest gear my derailleur (that is hard to spell)  went into my spokes and with a horrid snapping and crunching noise I was quickly put to a stand still with my rear wheel unable to rotate.  Learning from my previous mistake I quickly and pro-like unclipped without falling over.  I dismounted and saw what happened.  I figured my race was over and was surprisingly carefree about it, there wasn’t much I could do so I didn’t really care.   I started hiking up the climb when I realized I was still in green and by a solid margin, and on top of that, anyone within 15 points of me was dropped and unable to pick up any more points. I started running (in cycling shoes, sorry already empty bank account)  and with my bike on my shoulder.  As I was running up I was asking any spectator for a bike to use, none of which had one.  Luckily the feed zone was only 100m up the climb and with over 100 people there I figure one of them must’ve had a bike.  When I was about 60m away I saw Heather  running down to me to see how she could help. I yelled for her to find me a bike and she sprinted of in the other direction bike hunting. Someone walking up the hill offered to carry my bike to the feed zone which I accepted (finable offence apparently, leaving your bike before getting a new one).  It’s quite a bit easier to run without a bike on your shoulders, no matter how light.   By this point the adrenaline was seriously flowing, and thinking was not on the highest list of priorities (probably should’ve been).  John and Wes drove up beside me at this point flung open the door of the car and yelled “get in!”  Like I said, thinking wasn’t high on the priority list and being the dumb teenager I am, I jumped in.  We started driving and after about 25m I went, “I can’t be in a car can I?”  I started yelling to let me out, I pushed open the door while we were still moving and hopped out, nearly tripped while I was at it.  (It was at this point I was disqualified, apparently you can’t get in a car during a bike race… weird)  not knowing I was DQ’d I ran into the feed zone yelling for a bike.  Eventually someone (Domingue family, shoutout to them) gave me one.  It was a bike and as a bonus it had the right pedals so I wasn’t going to complain.  Only problem is the bike must’ve been the smallest size you could buy.  We raised the seat post as much as we could and it was still to low.  The reach was so short I felt like I was riding a cruiser with drop bars, my knees hit the handle bars every pedal stroke.  At this point I wasn’t concerned with GC, but if I finished I could keep green (if I wasn’t DQ’d which I was, but I didn’t know that).   I would’ve been pulled if I got lapped so in other words, I was going for the last not lapped prize.  I did the next 10 km fairly hard to make sure I wasn’t going to be lapped after that I wasn’t as concerned.  I ended up catching up to Philippe Gélinas who had mechanical problems which put him out of the bunch.  Without a threat of being lapped we started having some pretty good conversations for neither of us saw the point of killing ourselves to save a few minutes on the last stage.  Coming into the bell lap I was pleased that we were safe to finish the stage and very uncomfortable on the tiny bike (the seat was making my butt go numb).  Traveling by the feed zone was quite a bit of fun for I figured that taking it seriously at that point was a mistake.  I was giving Highfives to everyone, pretty much making the most of the situation.  At one point I got too far ahead of my riding companion Philippe, so I turned around, rode back, and started pushing him because why not?   After the climb we rode at a fairly good clip, chatting.  He was telling me about how he goes hunting and fishing in the winter because he can’t ride – a bit of it was lost in translation but we (he) made it work.  We rolled across the finish line 36 min behind the winner which ended up being Conor (Yay!).  After the race I was told to immediately go to the officials and I was already expecting the outcome.  They were quite apologetic but insisted they had to disqualify me,  It seemed fairly reasonable that you would get DQ’d for getting a car ride in a bike race.  It worked out well in the end with Ben taking the GC and stage 2 and 3, Conor taking the KOM classification, 2nd in GC and stage 5,  Isaac being the domestique of the century after his crash on stage 2 took him out of contention for the classifications. As well I took stage 4 and the first time a rider has been DQ’d for a car ride at Tour de la Releve.  The team as a whole also came away with the Team GC win by 15 minutes, and the Team Time Trial.

Photo Credit: Tour de la Releve
Conor Martin, Ben Katerberg, and Isaac Van der Vliet      Photo Credit: Tour de la Releve

We flew back the next day and I spent the next 2 days after doing short rides and baking cookies then it was time to hit the road again and go to Vancouver for BC Superweek.  The youth crits weren’t anywhere near as dynamic and fast as the racing in Quebec so I’ll skip over those races and tell you about the Cat 3 men.  The first Cat 3 race was PoCo GP and even though it was there first year holding the event it was put on fantastically.  By far the most organized and family inclusive crit of the entire week.  Anyway,  Cat 3 wasn’t the fastest but it was good fun.   The course was weird with 6 corners and awkward bending road it kept the crit interesting and enjoyable.   I missed a break after a prime and regretted it as that ended up being the winning break.   The group shattered with one lap to go from all the corners and I was able to sprint for 3rd, only beating out 4th by .003 of a second.

Photo Credit: Tour de White Rock
Photo Credit: Tour de White Rock

The only other Cat 3 Criterium I raced in was White rock which had a 30 second power climb that suited me quite well and a steep descent so not much recovery.  By the end I was feeling really good and was fighting for the wheel of the Langlois Brown’s leadout train on the last lap when an attack went on the other side of the train.  With no way through the clearly blown up leadout train I had to go out and around losing 5 bike lengths on the attack.  Luckily the attack went up the climb and I had no trouble closing the gap.  I was just about to make contact when one of the most powerful sprinters in the race, Vince Marcotte, launched his sprint.  Since I was still accelerating onto the back of the bunch, it was far easier for me to get on his wheel.  The finish was just after a downhill corner which meant first one into the corner won the race.  I was just able to get beside Vince before he took the corner and since our handle bars were equal I gained control entering the corner.  I was able to enter first and ended up winning the race for the second year running.  Best part of all was receiving a $50 prime, for not sprinting for primes, thank you Kerry Olohan.

Ended up Premier Series Winner for Cat 3 Junior
Ended up Premier Series Winner for Cat 3 Junior

Special thanks to Argon 18, Straight Up Cycles, Bruce Hale for GIVING me a set of carbon wheels and Dave Attwell for loaning me another set.

That’s pretty much all, pretty long blog, wonder how many people make it here, I’m guessing 5%.

Til next time,

Riley Pickrell

Robert Cameron Law Cycling Series

The initial plan was to post once a month… yup, that didn’t happen.

It seemed like without a large event the blog would just go; training, eating, sleeping, training, eating sleeping.  Kinda lame…

New plan: Blog after every event.  In which case, Robert Cameron Law Cycling Series!

The series started up with a Time Trial on the waterfront of Victoria on Friday night.  However, with the Provincial Championships being the weekend coming up (10-12th)  the plan was to train through it.   This made it into what seemed to be a 6-day stage race.

Tuesday – 17km Time Trial

Wednesday – Had a ridiculously hard road race because nobody wants to be beaten by a 14-year-old.

Thursday – 20km Team Time Trial and Track

Friday – Time Trial (start of Cameron Law)

Saturday – Road Race

Sunday – Crit

It was horrible, But a lot of fun.   I might as well start off with Tuesday because that was when racing started.   It was a fast night with little wind.  I was little off my PB, it was pretty sweet.

The Wednesday was horrible,  the “Road Race” is really just a circuit race around a 3 km course.  After winning the race the last time it was held.  Beating the best teams in Victoria, and in some regards BC, they were not having any of it this time.  The main two teams in the race were Russ Hays and the Wheelers.  As you can see where this is going, a break went up the road with one Russ Haye and one Wheeler.  This means that the entire Russ Hays team and the entire Wheeler team  will no longer do work on the front, and with pretty much no one else in the race, it was pretty much over.   I kept trying to bridge the gap, which stayed at 25 to 30 seconds, but to no prevail.   After one of my hardest digs, however, a Russ Hays attacked and with no Wheeler covering, bridged the gap.   That put the Wheelers outnumbered in the break and with me aiding my yelling to the confusion I was able to start getting the Wheelers to work. Sort of.  It was mostly them trying to bridge but by me going with them and working it widdled the gap back down to 15 seconds.  With 3 laps to go a break went on the climb with 3 laps to go and I wasn’t in it.  That was the hardest dig of the race.  It took me a good 2 minutes of “red zone” chasing to get back into contention and after another minute sitting on the back, I felt recovered just enough to pull.  The group wasn’t working amazingly together but it was enough to chase the break back.  We caught them with a lap and a bit to go and it was fairly chill until about 2 km to go.   At which point,  while I was at the back (stupid of me) another break went. Even better, there was one Wheeler and one Russ Hays in it. Guess who was in my group? Russ Hays, Wheelers and Me.  By the time I was chasing the break, it had around 7 or 8 seconds.  The finish was on a climb after a steep descent so I wasn’t too worried about closing it 100% once it’s less than 5 seconds it is easy to close on the climb.  Unfortunately, I still couldn’t get the best of the Russ Hays squad as Cody Canning flew by me like a missile.   On the bright side, his draft gave me that little bit more to get ahead of Eugene Hahn at the finish.

Thursday – with two workouts, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, It was a hard day, but pretty lame to comment on.  I road my bike in circles around Uvic then I road my bike in circles on the velodrome. pretty much it… moving on.

Friday – The Time Trial In the Cameron Law series was short, fast and close.   Mark Grant blew everyone else out of the water, but after him, 2nd to 5th were all within 1.5 seconds.  I came out with a 4th which I wasn’t amazingly happy with but I figured I would redeem myself the day later.

Saturday – The Road Race,  I heard someone deem it “the hardest race in BC” how accurate that is, no idea.  It felt uphill all the way around, though.  It was short as far as road races are concerned, 70km was ours which is 7 laps around the 10km course.  With just over 40km to go, a solo break when up the road and nobody paid much attention to it until 30km to go and he had over a minute.   That’s when people started to work with 20km to go the gap was down to 35 seconds and people were beginning to lose steam.  It was a group of 5 or so of us trying to pull him back and there seemed to be an agreement to just drag the bunch up and try to shred them on the last climb of the day.  Coming into the bell lap he was visible and had a gap of 25 seconds.  That was when I had the weird backhanded compliment ever, a rider next to me informed me that I “climb really well for a short fat kid.” I wasn’t really sure how to respond to that one.   As I tried to reorganize a chase no-one wanted to work, and I ended up rolling off the front.  So I just kept going.

Climbing like a short fat kid - bridging the gap photo: Scott Robarts Photography
Climbing like a short fat kid – bridging the gap
photo: Scott Robarts Photography

I caught the break on the climb and we were taking it quite easy up with the agreement that we will hammer over the top.  Just as we were cresting I hear someone yelling at me to move over.  Erik Diertens  had bridged a roughly 10-second gap like a bullet and wasn’t slowing down.  The other rider and I hopped on his wheel and immediately started working fairly well together.  As we were coming within a kilometer to the descent we had increased the gap to the point we were out of sight.  That’s when “solo for 40 km dude” started puking.  Erik and I continued on without him and started working better and better together.  The descent was a struggle being on junior gears but we slingshotted around each other to try to maintain the highest speed possible.  Coming up to the finishing straight a glance over my shoulder showed the pack not far off.  I started yelling at Erik that the bunch was closing, hoping he would drive it to the line as well as pick-up the pace.  With about 600m before the finish line, he swung off putting me in a difficult position.  Luckily he glanced backward and I noticed.  I punched it there and drove it as hard as I could barely able to gap Erik.

I didn't look back Just kept going. Photo: James Van Dam
I didn’t look back. Just kept going.
Photo: James Van Dam

Sunday – The criterium was in the heart of Victoria around the legislature building.  The course isn’t too difficult however with a finishing straight of about 50m it was a sprint into the last corner.   The first half of the race I was just sitting in for the legs were not feeling amazing.   By the second half, I started planning my attack, the plan was to go with a lap and a half.  When a lap and a half came around someone had rolled to the front and was just jamming.  This continued for the rest of the race,  so attacking wasn’t going to happen.  Coming down the straightaway before the last corner onto the finish I was second wheel.  About halfway down the straightaway Brendan Cowley came up sprinting beside me and I knew I had to go then or I would be swarmed.  I didn’t have any difficulty with the sprint and won it by a few bike lengths.

That was pretty much it.  It was a pretty killer week and with a taper week this week I am hoping on flying at provincials.

Huge thanks to Argon 18 for the sweet bike and Straight Up Cycles for their support!

And my Mom and Dad because they are supportive… Most of the time.


“Crazy late-not-really-March-blog” blog.

I missed my March blog deadline with Track Nationals prep and what not, so we are going to pretend the month of March never happened because I can’t remember what happened anyway. I’ll just fill everyone in on Track Nationals Instead!
I’ll start the morning we left. Monday morning at 4am was wake-up, the flight was at 6 (I think). The Crew (Adam and Erin Attwell, Sarah Van Dam, and I) rolled on with no issue and flew direct to Toronto. Can’t remember when we arrived but that doesn’t really matter. When we got to the Track it was the Ontario’s session. Luckily the Ontario kids and coaches are amazing, so they let us roll around and spin out our airplane legs.


The next couple days consisted of eating, riding, and playing cards (in which we discovered Erin is WAYYY too competitive). Any track time we had we were pretty much working on pacing for our 2km Individual Pursuit (yes, I pace 2k’s for any trackies out there) and getting used to the different track.


Racing started Friday morning and everyone was pretty jittery. The only rider not riding Friday was Adam, which part of all of us envied. Friday was team events, Team Sprint (3 riders, 2 for women, each one leads one lap and timing stops when the last rider completes their lap) and Team Pursuit (4 riders who ride 3 or 4km timing stops on the 3rd rider to cross the line). My Team Sprint consisted of Ethan O, Tyler Davies, and me, and did surprisingly good for all first year U17s. Our first ride Qualified second only 15 hundredths of a second behind. which meant we rode in the gold medal final. Everyone stepped up big time for that final. Ethan, Our starter, took half a second off his start and Tyler took off 3 tenths. I was the odd man out and stayed the same.


The team Pursuit was far messier. The team consisted of Quinn Storey, Eric Inkster, Tyler Davies and Me. It wasn’t amazing and I ended up having to pull for 7 of the 12 laps. It did work, however, because we got into the gold final in that as well. The other team in the final, teams of Ontario, was extremely dominate. They caught us and passed us within 8 laps. Then Continued to break the Canadian record. That wrapped up day one so we went back to the house and, shockingly, ate and played cards (which Erin beat us in and then lectured us on how it “sucks to suck”)

Saturday Morning was by far the tensest morning of the weekend. The Individual Pursuit was first up and everyone was extremely nervous. Erin was up first of our clan and smashed her’s, setting the new Canadian record. Then Adam who raced interestingly and got disqualified but made us all cry from laughing in the process. Sarah was up a little bit before me and has the worst self-assessment of fitness I’ve ever seen. after complaining about her schedule being too fast and not sure if she was able to do it. She raced and went 5 seconds faster than schedule. But her schedule was too fast…
I was last up of our clan and was going to aim for 17.4-second laps. which works out to a 2:23 2km. However, I was somehow convinced that I should do 17 flats. a 2:21 2km because “it’s a nice and round number.” It was absolute hell but I managed it. My lap splits never varied a tenth off 17 flat and I set a Canadian Record of 2:21.056. I was second to the last ride in the IP and Justin Correa, a rider in the final ride, was riding to win. At the first kilo, he was a second and a half up on me. Fortunately, for me and unfortunately for him he cracked in the last 500 meters and came in second.

After taking 5 seconds off a PB

The 200m qualifier was shortly after and the times showed it. I wasn’t able to crack the national record I set the year before, and nor was anyone else. The Match sprints went very smoothly for me. I was able to win almost every race tactically and save as much energy as possible. Once I reached the semi-final and the finals, I had to work to get my tactics to prevail because the other riders often understood what I was doing. The most obvious would be when I was in the final against Joel Domingue, a Quebecois rider who didn’t mind a little contact. I dove underneath him, pushed my shoulder into his and said, “let’s go up.” he replied with,
No, let’s go down.” and began pushing me down the track. I ended up winning the match sprints taking the first 2 rides of the final. By that time, I was thoroughly exhausted and yet still had a points race to go. It was 60 laps with a sprint every 10 laps for points. I won the first two sprints and used the second to lead into an attack. wasn’t the most amazing Idea. Sydney Flageole-Bray was with me on the attack after getting second in the sprint and he was way stronger than me. After 6 or 7 laps sitting at about half a lap on the bunch, he dropped me. Then continued to take a lap on the field, gaining 20 points. In the end, he had 29 points, I had 23, and 3rd had 7.

Our legs were brutally sore that night. The hot/cold baths helped a little bit but at 4am the next morning, I awoke with the burning sensation back in my legs for 2 or so hours. No sleep for me after that!

Sunday’s session opened with 500m and kilometer Time Trials. I was the last heat and the leading time was still over a second of my PB I set last year so I wasn’t that nervous.  Sitting on the start line, I said to my coach, “I’m going to do a 33.5” which is almost a second faster than the Canadian Record.  He replied with “sure.”  I had a great start and was feeling really good. My opening lap was extremely fast; an 18.9 which was faster than the U19 qualifier for worlds! My second lap was also fairly fast, and I ended with a 33.6. Which broke the Canadian record by 7 tenths.

DSC_0506The scratch race was up after that. There was A LOT of team tactics going on which was quite annoying but there wasn’t much to do about it. A 2 man break went with 8 to go, which I shouldn’t have let them go, but whatever. At 2 laps to go, they had half a lap. When I launched my attack at about a lap and a half, I was closing that half lap by a good amount. At the finish line, I wasn’t more than 5 meters behind.

Scratch Race, me coming over the top.

The last race of the day was delayed by power shortages, but the elimination race was eventually raced. Not being a medal event, I was going to play the devil. I was planning on darting across the line 2nd last so the person eliminated would think they are safe until I sprint over them. It didn’t work out that way. Before the neutral lap even ended the rider in front of me overlapped wheels and fell and I had nowhere to go. My only crash of the weekend, which was pretty good however, I couldn’t return to the race because of a headache.

That was my Track Nationals, I came out of it with 4 gold, 2 silver, and a bronze. I stood on every podium and now hold every U17 Canadian record. YAY!


I’m back again! Apparently people actually enjoyed my blog! I had 300 people read it! Unfortunately, my mom later commented that she opened it around 250 times to make me feel better…

February blew by way too quickly, and I had plenty to keep me busy. Speed Skating, Rowing and Cycling on top of school work and anything else I got dragged out to. Mostly, however, my schedule is 6 am training (sometimes), school, little bit more training, switch sports and a little more training, switch sports again, do some more training, eat, sleep repeat. Yup, ever wonder how to have absolutely zero social life? that’s how… In fact, I spent the most recent Pro-D day at Math Regionals! Got absolutely destroyed but it was actually quite a bit of fun. The next 3 weeks after that (February 12th) were and are going to be awesome! I had speed skating in the Richmond Oval first. I won a few, fell and got DQ’d for quite a few more. (Oops). All in all, however, it was a great learning experience. The weekend after however, that was the real good one, track camp and Bare Bones racing. The track camp was a bunch of fun and with all of us on great form heading into nationals and smashing PB’s it was an even more positive environment than normal.

Team Track stand photo from Dave Attwell
Team Track stand photo from Dave Attwell

Unfortunately, I’m still the workhorse. our Friday had 2 x 2hour session and a night of racing. By the second session, we were all pretty tired, but we still had some Team Pursuits to do (4 riders on a team and 3 must finish). We only had 14 riders, that gave us 2 teams of 4 and 2 teams of 3. So what did I have to do? You probably guessed it,

“Riley, why don’t you just do 3 of the 4 team pursuits and you can get your recovery while the one other group is going?”

“Sounds like a great idea…”

It wasn’t exactly “rolling” either, the U19’s didn’t give me a break at all. 53km/hr for 2km, absolutely brutal. Don’t worry, though, we only did it 3 times, in each group. Luckily Mr. John Wilcox jumped in with the U15’s for the last one so I got some recovery before the last U19 sufferfest.

Racing that night was just as brutal. The Burnaby guys kept the racing interesting, with races I’ve never heard of. I raced the first of which with the B’s but didn’t quite understand how the “Scratch/split points race” worked. I was at the back of the strung out bunch of 24 riders when the bell rang for the first sprint. I was still able to get 4th though. Which is one point. The second sprint was when the lap board was at 0 so that was a hard one to miss. I won that sprint but ended with a second in the overall due to my screw up on my first sprint.

The next was the 2 lap chariot race (pretty much a standing start 2 lap race), and thanks to a stupid dare and my stupidity, I raced with the A’s. I was first to the line so I got the best holder (pusher) ever. Launched me off the line like a bullet, and I still wasn’t first. I filed in second, behind Jack Lindquist, a positive for me he was as muscled as a weight lifter, so he was a huge draft. A downside for me, he was as powerful as a weight lifter. There was no way I could come around him, but nor could anyone else, so I pretty much rolled across in second.

After that, I was pretty much forced into the A category. The next race was 9km for the A’s. That was truly hard for me and I was dropped in the last 800m, which was just long enough for them to come around the track and lap me. YAY!!

That was all for me that night so my mom and I booked out to Richmond (about 40min away) to stay with friends and attend The RBC Training Ground. It was an athlete search event, to see if athletes are better suited for a different sport. The event was organized amazingly and it was pretty cool to meet high-performance athletes from different sports. I even bumped into some riding friends like Rachel Carey and Conor Martin! There were 10 “tests” we went through; a vertical jump, a standing triple jump, a standing long jump, a 40m sprint, a 6sec bike sprint (loved that one), a forward 5kg medicine ball throw (sucked at this one, I just kept throwing it vertically), an arm press, an arm pull, a leg press and an elliptical death march. After all this, as well as the training camp for the two days previously, my legs hurt so bad I couldn’t walk down the stairs without my legs hurting! In that case, why not race the next morning!

We made the drive to the track at 7 am that next morning, and much to the annoyance of my mom, we arrived early. Once racing started it was full tilt once again. The first was the Keirin qualifier (electric motorcycle paces you up to 55 km/hr then you race) which I ended up racing from the front and somehow winning. So I moved onto the final, which I ended up being stuck at the back, pretty much clinging with my teeth. So a solid 7th in that race.

Next was a 12km points race in which I dropped back down to the B’s, much to the distaste of Erin (Attwell) and Maggie (Coles-Lyster), who made sure to voice their distaste quite clearly before the race. So, as payback, I attempted to make the race as painfully hard as possible, as well as being “That Guy” who attacks after the sprints and takes the points on bike throws.

The last race of the weekend was the kicker though. It was a Derny Race, normally it’s a race with 6+ racers all drafting off a teammate on a Derny (motorbike). We didn’t have Dernies, so what’s the logical thing to do? Make the really strong riders be the Derny riders and a slower rider draft them. For the first time ever, I’ve regretted being fast. 50 laps on the front, while you have your teammate behind cracking the whip repeatedly, It’s hell. Pretty much how it would go is:

Person drafting: “UP UP UP UP UP UP!!”

Derny: *physically crying that they can’t go any faster*

Person drafting “Isn’t that cute, UP UP UP!”

We ended up 4th or 5th, no one actually knows and I don’t think anyone actually cares, it was a ton of fun. Prizes were great too, ended up winning 3 bottles of wine. Let me tell you, the amount of brownie points I got is off the charts.



That pretty much brings me up to present day again. I leave tomorrow for the BC Winter Games for Speed Skating, super excited and Hoping I won’t fall!

Thanks for reading! (wonder if anyone made it this far…)
P.S bonus point if you find grammar errors!

First Blog Post of… I guess ever…

Hello, Everybody! (or nobody, not really sure if anyone will actually read this)

My mother told me a couple months ago “you may want to make a blog Riley” I put that into Google Translate and ended up with “Riley, make a blog or else”. Yup, pretty much why I’m here.

Anyway, what have I been up to?

Starting way back in early December, I cut back on my riding by a fair amount, doing hikes, rowing and speed skating to keep me occupied. My mother also makes sure to criticize my Speed Skating and Rowing as much as she can; comments ranging from “You look like Bambie on ice Riley!” to “why don’t you go any faster, Riley? Tired Riley?” As an excuse she usually states; “keeping you humble since 2001”, guess I can’t argue with that!

When Christmas rolled around we went up to Nanoose Bay and visited with my grandparents, aunt and cousin. It was a week of doing almost nothing and I was going crazy. Christmas morning, however, I unlocked my inner 6-year-old and was up at 5 am waiting to open my presents. Thanks to my “loving” mother, she provided to not let us open them for another 7 hours. It was a pretty awesome Christmas and I won the “best gift given” apparently, on top of that I made someone cry from happiness! I guess a National Champion jersey can do that to your grandfather. “who would have thunk it?”IMG_2660

We returned home on the 28th,  we left 20min later.  A quick bag switch,  dress shoes, shirt and pants,  and we were off to the airport.   We flew to the Turks and Caicos on the redeye and stayed for a week.  My asthma was highly affected by the air conditioning so breathing was a struggle.  We spent most of our time on a beach or playing cards so it was, all in all, a great time,  but I missed my bike.

from left to right; Saylor, me, Charlie, Dad, Mom,
from left to right; Saylor, me, Charlie, Dad, Mom,

Once we were back home (for real)  my father and I started painting my track bike, much to the disagreement of my mother.  First was a fair amount of sanding, and I have to give a shoutout to trek; took me over an hour to sand off their logo!


After Sanding, I painted (most of it, my dad fixed any screw-ups) a couple coats of plain gold and a couple coats of Gold fleck. (pretty much gold glitter)  after that, more sanding.  yay!

Checking to make sure the fleck is evenly painted

After sanding with 400 and 800 grit sand paper, we started sticking the stickers. there are 72 maple leafs and 4 names, Erin, Adam, Sarah, and Angus, my teammates from nationals. After all the stickers were applied, we started spraying again. We painted the rest Candy Red. Candy Red is an almost see through paint, so in the sunlight, the gold shines through. 4 or 5 coats of that and we started peeling off stickers.

Top Tube – Looks pretty good doesnt it?

It took 2 flipping hours!

Erin’s name – dotted with a maple leaf

Once all the Stickers were removed, we threw on a couple clear coats and called it closed! Only one last decision, what colour bar tape? Red and Gold? Plain white?

Gold chainring looks sick with it!

Track camp was that weekend, and let me tell you, it’s fast! Set a track PB in my 200m, then was smashed to bits by Kelyn Akuna and John Willcox in some of the most aggressive match sprinting I’ve ever done. Track week went smoothly after that, EXCEPT, the motorbike was broken. What’s the logical answer? Fix the motorbike? Nah, why not “Riley! can you act as a motorbike for a couple minutes?”

me: “um, sure”

Lister (coach) “great you’ll be riding on the front for 15 minutes, twice”

Have you ever felt like you’ve been run over by a train? I was run over by that train, and a couple cars, a city bus, possible a firetruck as well. That pretty much brings us up to present day. Writing a blog when I should be studying. I should be posting once a month.  Hopefully….