Deciphering perfect compromise between sport and studies

With the 2014 racing season nearing the halfway part, I have once again found myself attempting to decipher the perfect compromise between sport and school. After completing the fall semester of engineering, the balance fell heavily in favor of cycling by taking the winter semester off of school to pursue full time training and racing with Team SmartStop.

Dedicating the majority of the year purely to riding has challenges of its own: time away from family and friends, the demands of racing, and of course the financial strain that is placed upon cyclists who’s job is to ride their bike. For this reason, Global Relay’s Bridge the Gap fund continues to be essential to my racing career.

The season started off with a 3-week training camp at elevation in Summerhaven, on top of Mt. Lemmon, just outside of Tucson, Arizona. This was a great way to get a solid block of training in while also meeting and bonding with the rest of the team. A highlight of the camp: making the front cover of ROAD magazine. After the training camp, I was able to spend a month in Santa Rosa, CA to escape the cold back home in Calgary, AB and train and race in the sun. I was able to stay with some friends in Santa Rosa, including fellow BTG members Garrett McLeod and Stuart Wight. While in California, I competed in two stage races, the Chico Stage Race and Madera Stage Race. I was able to secure a handful of stage podiums, and donned the best young rider’s jersey and sprinter’s jersey at Chico for a number of days.

Making the cover of ROAD magazine. Also, an unique ad by Mercury wheels


Left to right: myself, Rob Britton, Gord Fraser, and Zach Bell in Tucson, AZ

The first real test of the season was the Joe Martin Stage Race, a 4-day NRC event. The team rode extremely well, with the team represented on the podium most days and finished the week of by winning the team GC. This race was later followed by the US Pro National Championships, where my teammate Eric Marcotte took the win. Fellow teammates Travis McCabe came 2nd and Julian Kyer, narrowly missing the sprint for 3rd, finished in 5th. It is a pretty unique experience to have both the US and Canadian National Champions (Zach Bell) riding on the same team.

Another day on the bike, an hour south from my home in Calgary

After a couple weeks of training at home, I jumped on a flight to Philadelphia for the Philly Cycling Classic, a UCI 1.1 one-day stage race, and arguably the biggest one day race in North America. This race was heavily contested, with a deep field consisting entirely of pro racers from North America as well as Europe and Australia. The team rode well, and played the race nearly perfectly, chasing the breakaway back with 2 laps to go. We narrowly missed the top spot in a sprint, leaving us in 2nd place. We also managed to take the sprinter’s classification.

Chasing down the breakaway in the Philly Cycling Classic

Currently, I am in Saquenay, Quebec in preparation for the Grand Prix Cycliste Saguenay. This will be followed by the Tour de Beauce, and the Canadian National Championships. After several weeks of racing in Quebec, I will fly to Vancouver to race in BC Superweek, 10-days of racing that contains one of the most exciting and well renowned criteriums in North America, and a race I am extremely excited for: The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix. This race is consistently one of the most exciting and highly anticipated events of the year. With over 30,000 fans, it is pretty hard not to feel awesome while racing up and down the streets right outside Global Relay’s head office in Vancouver’s Gastown district.

A huge thanks to Team SmartStop, Global Relay’s Bridge the Gap Fund, and of course my parents. Without this support, I couldn’t be anywhere close to where I am in my cycling today. Happy riding!