by Brian McGregor In the winters I spend the majority of my time coaching ski racing to a wonderful group of athletes. In 2011, Squire Johns in Collingwood left a Cervelo S2 in the window all winter long. Every time I was in the store, I drooled over the sexiness of the bike. It had been over 30 years since I had owned a road bike. My one and only was a Motobecane that I bought as a teenager. I had taken up recreational mountain biking about 5 years earlier. Was road riding really for me?
Living in the Clarkson / Lorne Park area, my frustration with mountain biking was that I had to drive so far to get to any decent trails. Cycling was limited to my cottage trips on weekends and I was getting withdrawal during the week. Finally, I decided that I needed a road bike, so that I could clip in on my driveway and GO! Squire Johns … here I come. By the end of March I was fitted and outfitted.
On my first ride (solo), I nearly turned back home, because I couldn’t figure out how to change gears! What a newbee. Eventually, I figured it out and did my first 50 km ride up Grey Road 19 and back to Blue Mountain. I was hooked.
My first year of riding (2011) was a steep learning curve, totally alone, with no external motivation, guidance or mentoring. With a chalet in Collingwood, I naively thought I might enter the 100 mile Centurion. So, two weeks prior, I decided to see if I could actually ride 100 miles. With a Camelback I headed out and suffered through 100 miles in 32 degree full sunshine, finally landing with blisters on my feet and exhausted, late in the afternoon. Nevertheless, I entered the Centurion with no real goals except to finish in a respectable time.
The Centurion was a wonderful and exciting experience. For me, it was not a race, but a way for me to gauge myself against others. Unfortunately, I broke a spoke and it cost me a half-hour while I waited for a new wheel. No big deal, as I wasn’t racing anyway. I was thrilled with my average time and loved the experience. I broadcast my enthusiasm on Facebook and it was picked up by a friend from way back …. Alison King.
Alison suggested I join Team RACE, and I was shortly introduced to Freddy and connected to the Facebook Team RACE group.
Only a couple of weeks later, a Night Ride was organized by Team RACE. Little did I know that the hard core group that would be night riding, had ridden about 100,000 km between them that summer. Naively, I asked if I could join the ride. I was graciously invited and loaned lights. It was a warm full moon evening, and off we went on the Snake Road circuit. I say that like I should have known what “the Snake Road Circuit” was, but for me it was my first time, even though the others had ridden it hundreds of times before. I was introduced to Strava, on the Lakeshore sprints, and it was a little unnerving descending King Road with a fading light, having never ridden it before. But it was a GREAT evening! Eventually, the newbee (me) started to suffer on the return, and was seriously at risk of getting dropped in the dark. Fortunately for me, Freddy took me under his wing, and pulled me all the way home. We finished the night with Guinness at Freddy’s and I was able to get to know some of the guys a little better.
This was my first time to be pulled home by a Team RACE powerhouse, but not my last.
I have since ridden with other groups who are much more organized and civilized, succumbing to the lowest common denominator of the group, with a “we drop nobody” attitude. Perhaps these groups are “NICER”, but they really don’t measure up to the fantastic passion and drive of Team RACE. I am certainly not up to the caliber of so many Team RACE riders (in many ways), but I feel that I can come out and ride with any of them. I am confident that they will push me to ride my hardest and teach me ways to improve. They might drop me when appropriate, but will always pull me when needed. They will chastise me for breaking the (Velominati) rules, and support me in all aspects of cycling.
Thank you, Team RACE.
I am honoured to be part of the TEAM.
Member Since: 2012