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Ask Oli: Going home, gels, and ebike commuters

The pro handles getting passed by a pedal-assist bike with dignity...kind of

Oliver Evans Fairfield Branch

Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans Fairfield Branch
One of Oliver Evans’s comforts of home: the Fairfield Branch café. Image: Maxim Ellison

What do you most look forward to when you go home after a trip?
Nancy Labra, Winnipeg

Bryanna. The hardest part of spending time on the road is being away from my best friend. Sitting at a café and catching up with her or listening to music on a drive as we head to our spot at Thetis Lake for a swim in the summer are two of my simplest pleasures.

I like the feeling of relaxation once I get home, too. I’m a little less tense, no longer worried about how everything I do will be judged and/or approved of by my team. I can eat a little more freely, spend time on my own and ride with my training partners.

I think I’ve learned through travel that “home” isn’t a particular place to me; it’s a feeling. I look forward to feeling at home.

What on Earth is a gel?
Keith Mears, Winnipeg

Kind of like a Tide Pod, except entirely different in that it’s designed to be consumed and does a really poor job of cleaning your dirty laundry (in fact, it makes dirty clothes worse).

Gels are one of the more efficient methods of eating energy while on the bike. They’re small packets of carbohydrates often containing caffeine, and they aren’t always offensive to the palate.

They can be used in place of bars, as they don’t require chewing. I would never race solely on gels though, as it’s important to put real food in your stomach during long events. I generally wait as long as possible before switching to gels.Alternatively, I use them early on if the pace is too high and chewing means suffocating.

My favourite flavours include espresso love and mocha.

You’re on a slow, steady training ride, and a commuter passes you on an ebike. What do you do?
Carter Nieuwesteeg, Victoria

This always induces immediate turmoil. Dignity and pride are on the line. Will I let down nature’s forces and succumb to the powers of electricity? The stakes are high.

Doping is a force to be reckoned with in my world of racing. In Victoria, where the commuter Olympics are a daily affair, it’s our responsibility as cyclists to put dopers in their place, even the ones in suits riding home from their 9-5.

At the end of every ride, when I’m cooling down in my granny gear as I head up Fort Street, some dingus on an ebike will rip by me with a smug look on their face. “Look at me crush this ‘pro,'” they think to themselves. And some days, I’ll be content, knowing I’ve won as I see five hours and 140 km on my Garmin. I’ll take the high road, and share my victory. But other days, that’s not enough, and I’ll chase after them. I’ll pass them with a relaxed upper body, holding my breath, sometimes even saying, “Hi there, nice bike!” with a smile on my face. Then I’ll turn the corner, slow right down, gasp for air, and do an extra lap around the block to cool down.

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.