Sunday's cyclocross awards ceremony in Almonte marked the official end to the cycling season for 2010. Very much a family affair, the ceremony brought finality to the year, and afforded us an opportunity to honour the generous organizers, and recognize the accomplishments of the riders who managed to race all ten of the series' events, those who raced six or more, and category top threes. I was particularly happy to see many kids in attendance, more than last year. I have a feeling their ranks are slowly growing, and this makes me hopeful. Hopeful that cyclocross will continue to grow, to afford cycling families opportunity to get out and have fun together in a safe environment. I can't think of a more accessible cycling discipline in the competitive sphere.
Tall Tree Cycles riders had a very successful cyclocross campaign, which capped an incredible season that began way back in April. While some had already raced the whole OBC series in the past, others, myself included, had dabbled, cherrypicking venues and mixing the odd Sunday all road adventure into the mix over October and November. This year was the year to throw everything into cross and see how it all shook out. As it turns out, we shook out pretty well. Rodd and I scooped up cowbells for out third and second place overall finishes behind Duncan Beard. With plans to mix in as much or more out of town races next year, it'll be mighty hard to take on Duncan, Shawn Marshall, John Fee and Simon Smith for the overall next year, but we'll sure try! Every race will count, no doubt about that. Hot on Rodd's heels in the points was Rob Parniak, fellow Tall Tree rider, who just might have discovered that he kinda likes cross in a perverse way. Jamie and David rounded out 9th and 10th spots overall. Meanwhile, Mike stacked up 6th in Master B.
Without a doubt, Jamie was Tall Tree's most improved rider in 2010. His dedication putting in the miles in the early spring set him up for his best cycling season ever. On the other hand, Todd was easily Tall Tree's standout as 'most incredible rider of the year.' With minimal time in on the bike, Todd maximized the time he has to train and came out swinging at Battenkill, riding with the lead group for most of the race. And this was with thousands fewer kilometers in his legs than Rob and me. Todd didn't fail to impress throughout the season, riding a very strong Almonte Roubaix, a terrific Preston St. Criterium, and a handfull of awesome cross races, totally new to the discipline. If I keep on listing off accomplishments of our riders this year, this post will truly be Rapha merino wool epic.
I think many of us had our best cycling seasons ever in 2010 - I know I did - and I think a big part of that success was the support we found amongst each other. We encouraged each other to get out to ride in crap weather, we pushed each other on Parkway loops and XC races, we worked together on long rides in the wind, looked out for each other in the races, and sometimes, battled each other too. Nobody succeeds in anything alone. Every success was a success for the team. The moment that catalyzed this insight for me occurred during the Hastings Hilly Hundred. Rob, Jamie, Dave, Todd and I were rolling well in the lead group about halfway into the route. On a turn onto a stretch of highway, Todd dropped his chain and disappeared. When we realized he was far behind, Rob and I paused. We'd been working together to stay with the lead group as a unit. Rob and I looked at each other and made the decision: we'd wait for Todd and work together to catch back on if we could. It would be hard, really hard, but we would not leave him. This was a defining moment. I have no doubt that Todd felt bad about us waiting, knowing we were intent on sticking with the lead group, we had a goal. But we are a team, that is primary. This means sometimes we need to sacrifice our personal aspirations for the good of our comrades. So we did. David kept an eye and trailed back. Jamie hung onto the pack for dear life, torn between the prospect of getting dropped into no mans land and possibly going too deep as part of our chase group. Once we'd formed a 4-man unit, we pulled hard. I felt ok, but discovered I put in too much during my pulls when I completely cracked. Cracked. A hollow husk. I was beside myself, unable to understand what had happened, and expecting to deteriorate further. This was the lowest moment of my season, I could no longer work for and with my team. I couldn't even hang on. They waited, and David, fully aware of the suffering I was experiencing, delivered the most poignent statement of 2010: "You will recover, trust me." He knew. I didn't. All I could do was what he asked; I trusted him. As the kilometers passed I came around, I was recovering; David was right. Suffering, we were making up ground. Jamie was now with us, and we could see the lead group ahead. At the last checkpoint they briefly paused and rolled away before we were fueled up. It was over, we'd done it yet we hadn't. It didn't matter, we'd looked after each other. All we had to do now was ride.
|Meanwhile, Chris bailed hard, and Pascal and Rodd took care of him.|
Of the many lessons I learned in 2010, David's was right up there at the top in terms of importance: Trust yourself, and trust your teammates. David doesn't talk as much as some of us; he chooses his moments. Choose your moments, speak what needs to be spoken. Words matter.