I just got back from Trexlertown in Pennsylvania, where I stayed for over a week to take part of the second sprint development camp being held by Cycling Canada. This camp was a second step after the first camp in LA in May.
Although this time, this training camp included racing too, UCI races. So it was a chance for us to get our feet wet and get valuable experience. Trexlertown being the most popular place for track racing in north america during the month of June, we would surely compete against the some of the best sprinters in the world.
I will go back and talk about the camp in LA again because my vision of the sport of sprinting somewhat changed a bit in between the 2 camps. When I got back from LA I was confused about which direction to take. I was excited to see I was among the fastest at the camp, but then there was also the fact that we were just so far from the international level.
One other important thing I think I just started to realize after I got back, it’s how different sprinting is. Not the sprint part itself, but the sport, the preparation for it. I love to sprint, I love to go all out and i’m not good at pacing, that is a fact I’ve always known. But then I also love to ride my bike and race. Unfortunately, there isnt much riding or racing when you’re a sprinter, unless you compete at world cups and big games. In track sprinting you can’t be an average sprinter. There will be just no race. Well, way much less races than you would find in road cycling or track endurance.
Not many track sprinters come from cycling. But I thought hey I come from hockey! I played for 20 years, and spent the last ten years in the gym as well. Sprinting was definitely not a crazy idea and that’s why I got invited in the first place. Becoming a sprinter could be possible, with time (few years) and proper training.
I had been thinking a lot about this during my preparation for GP Gatineau (a team commitment). Suddenly I had to do a complete different training and spend as much time as possible on the bike to improve my endurance prior to that long road race. Surprisingly I loved it, I enjoyed every hours I spent on the road like if I had never ride in months! It became even obvious that I was not ready to give up « cycling » in order to move forward with track sprinting.
But then you can’t say no to an invitation from Cycling Canada. So I decided to go to the camp anyway, get on the track, keep learning from the best and show them what type of athlete I am. The good news is, there are races that suits my « in-between sprint and endurance » profile : the scratch and the points’ race. And that was on the program too!
Now about the camp…
First day : racing day! We would start with a match sprint tournament and a UCI scratch race. I beat my time from LA to placed 14th in the 200m qualification. How can I beat my time on a bigger and outside track… I dont know! Then I obvisously didn’t go any further in the tournament. Not even close…
Scratch race. This is where the fun really started. Oh. My. God. I love to race. If I wasn’t gasping for air I would have been laughing the whole time, I had just so much fun! For a first race, the goal was simply to be active and try things. Exactly what I did, jumping on everything with perfect timing. Then I don’t know what it looked like from the pit but everyone, coach included, saw the same thing : I have to go into track endurance, this is where I belong. Oh how interesting this conclusion is. That was the first day.
The result? Who cares about the result, it was just so much fun! Finished 10th, bad decision in the second to last lap, oups.
The next friday was another big night of racing where I would be focusing on a UCI points race and a UCI scratch again, after 2 round of Keirin (that went ok actually, Keirin is fun!). Although the field was much stronger than the past Friday. I started the race in a survival mode. Half way in the race later, somehow I found my way to the front and launch my sprint with the perfect timing to get my first 3 points. Baam
It was a 42 lap points race, on a 333m, with sprints every 6 laps. Try to calculate where you’re at when you see the lap count now. Just so confusing. I thought we were 2 laps to go when I saw the perfect opening for an attack from the top. I threw my bike down the track, looked behind to see nobody jumped. Then oohh wait, i’m at 3 laps to go, thats about 1km. Oh well, keep going! The pack is catching up as I get closer to the line. Three girls passed me but I could still make the last point. One little inch ahead to get that one little point. This one cost me a lot. Haha.. well, that was me digging as deeper as possible to make sure I finish the race ultra dead, it has became a habit!
Overall I was super happy with an 8th position in the points’ race. My best result so far at a UCI event. Then I ended my camp with another good 11th place in the scratch race.
I can’t tell how many great things I took back from this camp. It might be over for the sprint development team, but now I know where I’m going. Plus I got to learn important racing tactics that will certainly help me in any type of race. My sprint got faster, I’m actually around 5km/h faster than last season! On top of that I got valuable racing experience and decent result at 3 UCI endurance event.
And did I talk about how much fun this camp was? Ask coach Erin how fun is cycling :p
(He likes to say cycling isn’t fun, so I decided to make fun of that statement all week.. my « quebec rebellion » he said as a response :p ) No really I am super grateful to have had the chance to work with Erin, our new national sprint coach. He is one of these coachs I truly believe who can make a difference with the athletes and bring Canada to the next level in the sprint field. It’s sort of sad to leave a program that has such a great future.
Fun has also a lot to do with the people you get to train with! I want to say I had an awesome time with my teammates from RealDeal/Gears Jamie Gilgen, Kristen Sears and Krista Ruby. And everybody else at the camp… it was just awesome!
Back home : Lachine
Just after I got home I won my very first race on the road last Tuesday at Lachine Criterium in Montreal. The camp might has something to do with it! This victory means also a lot because it was ‘’Lachine’’. The one crit I was the most scared of when I started cycling. The biggest challenge was to get on the start line. Sometimes the most rewarding battles to win are the one against yourself.
I decided to skip road nationals this year (happening this week actually) due to work schedule and travel expenses. But I will be traveling to BC next week for another insane week of road racing with my team. It will be the first time I participate in BC Superweek. I can’t wait!! I will certainly get my butt kicked, but I’m looking forward to it, and get back home stronger!