Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans
Oliver Evans pauses for a moment during a training ride in Victoria. Image: Aidan Livesey

What or where would you be if you weren’t a cyclist?
Matt Staples, Barrie, Ont.

It’s really hard to say. I have yet to explore fully or find other true passions. A lot of what I’m interested in off the bike is still cycling related, and certainly influenced by my cycling. I’d definitely do some travelling. I can’t imagine not being an athlete though.

In another life, I’d be able to sing. But until then, I’ll stick to my day job.

What did you look for in a new coach?
Kelsey Unger, Winnipeg

First and foremost, I needed a coach who could be receptive with regard to my depression and anxiety. Generally, that means someone who has been through similar struggles and can therefore be empathetic. I wanted someone who understands what I mean when I say “I really want to ride, but I just can’t.”

A revelation I had last year is that athletes hire coaches, and pay them, so it’s wrong to feel like a coach is your boss. I shouldn’t feel ashamed or out of place if I say that I don’t want to or can’t do a workout. Right now, I’m largely responsible for my training program and my coach just tweaks it and gives me advice. That’s what I need.

Jacob Schwingboth and his Flying Squirrel Academy seemed to be the perfect fit. While I have very ambitious goals for this year, I’m the most relaxed I’ve ever been this winter (with regard to training and not training). I have a sense of autonomy now when I train. If you ask me, you should always feel free on a bike. I’ve never been so confident in my ability to coach myself. Jacob helps me coach me. He motivates me, relaxes me, encourages me, understands and is patient with me.

You said: “I had no idea that I didn’t have to do it all on my own.” One might ask: “If you were told otherwise, would you have listened?”
PC via “Heads First” at my blog

This question refers to how alone I felt when I first started feeling depressed. I held it in for months. I was afraid to tell people.

This is hard to answer. I’d always known other people close to me with depression, so in a way, I already knew I wasn’t alone. I had no idea, however, that it was something I could talk about openly. I almost wish that someone knew, and started talking to me about it instead. Starting the conversation was hard. I started it by mistake when I had a panic attack in front of my family and just blurted it out. So, honestly, I’m not sure. But I do strongly encourage people suffering in silence to reach out to their networks, and to seek support. It’s worth it. If someone had said that I don’t have to go through it alone, that would imply that they already knew I was depressed, which means I would no longer be going through it alone.

But, if you are struggling, and you feel alone, you aren’t. And you don’t need to be. Reach out. Conversely, if you think that someone you know may be struggling, I would encourage you to respectfully and gently invite them to discuss what they’re going through.

Post ride meal?
Jake Gaucher, Calgary

Leftovers. I absolutely love getting home from a long ride and knowing there’s a proper meal ready to go. A coffee is always nice, too.

In the winter, especially after a cold, wet ride that requires a minimum of two hours of thaw time afterward to regain feeling in my hands and feet, soup is always a treat. And toast. And chocolate.

Oliver Evans is a 19-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, who is currently based in Victoria. He races on the road with H&R Block Pro Cycling. He’s happy to take your questions. Submit them in the comments below or send him a message.

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