by Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans
Oliver Evans at the WTNC (World Tuesday-Night Championships) at UBC in Vancouver, June 13, 2017. Photo: Bryanna Gillespie

I’m a Canadian cyclist trying to find my way in the professional peloton. My relationship with cycling has been complicated, involving love, hatred, suffering and great happiness. It’s not all sunshine, rainbows and gold medals.

My progression in cycling from one level to the next has, for the most part, been straightforward. I’ve been racing since the age of 12 and signed with H&R Block Pro Cycling in the autumn of 2016. Throughout the winter, however, I started feeling depressed. In spring of this year, depression took over in long before and it continues to preoccupy me.

I think the downward slide started in 2016. I missed some major goals. I burnt out mentally by July and didn’t address that fatigue until much later. I overtrained during the following winter out of fear of being inadequate in my first year as a pro. Cycling became a job and the passion had disappeared. I hated the bike. I rode because I had to. By March, I realized this couldn’t continue so I hung up my bike to improve my health.

During my time off, I discovered an interest in writing and started a blog. This process allowed me to reflect and come to a better understanding of how my mind works. Writing offered an outlet and provided me with something to do off the bike, which I hadn’t had before. Over the course of three months, my mental health was mostly restored. By June, I was dying to get on my bike again. So I did.

I now feel better prepared to manage cycling’s ups and downs. And, I invite you to join me as I try to find my way in the professional peloton. Please send your questions—about training, racing and trying to make it all work—and I’ll answer them in this column. I call it, “Ride with Me.” Enter your questions in the comments below.

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.

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