Catalina Gran Fondo
About 3.5 hours earlier, I was at the starting line of this ride and was standing elbow to elbow with the hundreds of other riders and racers that were anticipating the 55-miles of dirt and 8,300’ of elevation gain that awaited our company. My heart began beating fast and I looked at Tom from Team Big Bear and asked “why am I so nervous?” as he walked over to give me a big hug and managed to help calm my nerves, even if only for a moment. I had no idea of what was in front of me, what I would encounter or if I would even be able to physically get through it, but I stared the unknown in the eye and was ready to conquer whatever stood before me.
According to my SRM head unit, I had pedaled almost 50-miles and climbed almost 8,000 feet and although this was my first time on this course, I knew that the end had to be near. It would be only a few more turns that would add up to maybe a few hundred more feet of gain -then it would be a descend to Descanso Beach of Avalon to cross my first “finish line” since my brokenness. My heart smiled and I knew I had reached another milestone during this moment of my life…time did not matter and even if it took me another hour to get to that finish, I knew I was on my way back. I took another look around me, soaked up the moment and took another snapshot in my mind of what my eyes continued to witness…the beauty of this island was breathtaking and mind-blowing
“….what are you doing back here?”
I was in my little euphoria when I came up on this guy and gradually pedaled my way past him. No names will be mentioned, but I know he was riding towards the front the whole day and as I went by, I heard this question come out of his mouth. My immediate reaction was to throw a stick in his spoke, throw him off his bike and hurt him, but then I realized that just the fact that I was passing him in the state that I was in….was probably hurting him enough. He probably did not even know my story and even if he never did, I knew my story and that is all that mattered. I continued past him and returned back to my bliss.
Not long after, I rolled under the little banner that welcomed each rider back home and onto the beach and was greeted into the arms of the crew of Team Big Bear and Tom gave me a huge bear hug along with a finisher sticker. He looked at me as he handed the sticky paper over and said that he knew I was used to trophy’s and cooler stuff, but he had no idea how much that small, shiny, oval paper with a gummed backing meant to me…. I will treasure it forever.
It was a perfect day. The sky was clear, the ocean was blue, the sun was shining, the air was warm, I was with a bunch of friends and I had completed the 2013 Catalina Gran Fondo.
The exchanging of stories began and the images began coming back to me as I stood by, smiled and listened…that sketchy single-track with the sign that demanded a dismount, the nasty climb that felt like a 50% grade and was possibly only cleared by Mr. Brian Lopes (after completely ignoring the mandatory dismount), the sneaky turn off that Ty did after drilling everyone and opting for the 41-mile route, Tinker dancing farther and farther away with each climb, the endless climbing that seemed to have no end, the riding with the bison and the guy who supposedly got charged by one, the cramping, the bonking, the spectacular views and the personal challenges that were conquered.
Not only was this a perfect day, but this Catalina Gran Fondo created the perfect weekend for every mountain biker who loved riding their bikes, suffering, crushing challenge and meeting amazing people all while enjoying the little get away that was just a 60 minute ferry ride from the mainland. Instead of filling these pages with more words, I will entertain you with images that will give you a little insight to our Team Sho-Air/Cannondale venture to and on the little island of Catalina.
But before I do put an end to my words, thank you to Team Sho-Air for getting us over there and helping to put on and create such an amazing event. It was super fun hanging out with you guys and riding with you … although that only lasted for a few minutes.
Until this weekend at Sagebrush where I will really be joining the boys and toeing my first official starting line to the US Cup’s round #2 of the 50 mile series and USA Cycling’s round #1 of the Pro UET series…go big or go home, right?
Well, pretty stoked the first couple races in almost 10 months are in the bag and not a result outside the top-5.
Sea Otter was a toss up not knowing how the legs or body would respond with such a long absence from racing. With quite a few euros making the trip over it was a really hard fast race and only 1 lap so it was relatively short but hard. I was pretty happy with 5th place about 35 seconds down from the French winner Miguel Martinez. I don’t really care what kind of past the guy did or didn’t have but I was actually pretty stoked to share a podium with him as when I started riding and racing in Spain I went to the world champs in 2000 when I was 14 and watched him just crush it to be world champion in front of an idol of mine Roland Green. Who would of thought that 13 years later we’d be on the same podium at Sea Otter with him coming out of retirement, cool.
After a saweet night out with the team out on the town in Monterey and a bowling wound to show for, I spent a few nights at my mechanic Jordi’s place in Santa Cruz. That place is awesome and can’t wait to spend some more time there.
I flew to Phoenix Tuesday and met up with former motocross pro and team manager extraordinaire Ty Kady and we drove up to Prescott-AZ where we would stay for the rest of the week.
Basically the week went like this: altitude headaches, lack of sleep, bloody noses, irritated throat, sunburn, killer bbqs, as much riding as I could do without cracking, a nice win in the fat tire crit, a satisfying 3rd place in the 50-miler avoiding cracking and cramping in the dry altitude and heat, more headaches, hella mucus and a rare bloodshot eye (not all in that order). I still managed a solid week of training and if I come back to the Whiskey 50, which I hopefully do, I’ll know what to expect and maybe do things a little different. But it’s an awesome event no doubt, although I didn’t drink any whiskey! Next time…
On my way home now for a couple weeks before heading over the pond to Europe for the first 2 world cups. It’s going to be good.
Thanks Team Sho-Air/Cannondale for making my return to racing awesome!
The last 2-3 months have just flown by. The recovery from knee surgery has taken about as long as expected. It’s still not 100% but full recovery could take up to a year so I’ve been told. The good thing is that I can pedal as hard and as much as I want without pain or tightness. The only slight pain I feel is from the surgery itself and the scar tissue but according to my awesome doctor that can up a while to fully break down.
Other then a trip up to my hometown of Tofino for a family Easter get together, I’ve been pretty pumped to just be home in Victoria the last 3 months since team camp back in January. It’s been great to have just been in a solid training routine, sleeping in my own bed, spending time with amazing my girlfriend Dana, friends etc..
I’ve been able to have a good couple months of hard training and after such a long break prior its been somewhat if a slow process. I’ve kept it pretty specific with mostly riding and strength training although I’ve thrown some great surfing in the mix. I just recently started intervals on the bike which was a shock to the system but much needed and had a good couple motor-paces too to get that leg speed back. The lower body strength training stopped last week and can’t say I’m going to miss that soreness in the legs while on a long and hard enough ride already! Is about maintaining the core strength now and some balance/coordination which for anyone who’s reading this, is crucial us cyclists, competitive or
I just arrived in Monterey for my first race since the London Olympics, the Sea Otter classic this weekend. I think I’ve been 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th so there is one spot that’s missing on the palmares haha. I hear is going to be a really strong field so it’s going to be a tough XC. I can’t wait to get back on the bike with a number plate and do what I love most. Also super pumped to get on my new Cannondale Scalpel and F29 race bikes. Big thanks Peter Vallance and Cannondale for doing me up a Custom Cdn National Champ F29 frame, and my wicked mechanic Jordi for getting it all built up with all our amazing team component sponsors. Keep posted for some pics of the bikes.
After Sea Otter, we’ll head to Prescott-AZ for the Whiskey 50, which I’ve heard a lot of great things about. Thankfully us pros have been allowed to race.
I’ll send what I hope to be, a positive race report following the trip. As much as I love the West Coast of Canada, I’m pretty psyched to see some sunny weather(I hope)!