by Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans
Oliver Evans, in third position, races the WTNC at UBC. Image: Bryanna Gillespie

How many races on average does a pro like you race per year?
from Henry via Canadian Cycling Magazine

Good question! I don’t know.

I wish I knew the answer, but after racing for only three months, and only starting seven races with H&R Block Pro Cycling in 2017, I haven’t experienced a full season as a pro.

In terms of the statistics, it looks as though race days are considered days spent racing in UCI events. If that’s the case, my “most-raced” teammates saw 55 to 70 days of competition this year. However, if you include BC Superweek and other local races, you could likely add another 12 to 20 days. That’s a huge season.

After the Tour of Alberta, most of the teams were done for the year, as is usually the case for North American teams, but a handful of our guys flew to China for 25 to 30 more days of racing during the following two months. So I would assume that those guys on my team are on the slightly higher end of the spectrum, and that 45 UCI race days may be a more accurate average.

Can you comment on the types of treatment you tried for your anxiety or depression?
via direct message

I started by telling people about what I was going through instead of trying to fight it alone. Then I had a visit with a psychiatrist and a general practitioner at UBC this past March. I was offered medication, but refused. It freaked me out as I’ve seen some pretty negative effects of medication on people in my life.

I didn’t like the guy at UBC, so after two visits I decided he wasn’t the right person for me.

I also spent a lot of time thinking things over. I rode for 85 hours in February wondering why I was so miserable. That time spent in the saddle, although I hated it, provided me with a lot of time to think. I started to dissect my previous year, analyzing every bump in the road and every decision I had made. I identified a few triggers by the time I stopped riding: training was one of them.

I removed riding from my life as it had become something I resented. I only trained because I had to, and training had become my most significant trigger. Removing it was a start.

I lifted a massive pressure off my shoulders, but that only stopped the digging. I was still in a deep hole and needed to climb out.

Blogging provided me with an outlet. I started writing in April. I became comfortable with my story. I didn’t feel the need to hide it. I didn’t fear having to explain myself. Many, many people who I knew and didn’t know started writing to me, thanking me for helping them and offering to help me. My blog provided me with a platform upon which I could further analyze my experiences and begin to understand what I could do to avoid going the same route in the future.

I took three months to allow myself to “recover.” I made my health my No. 1 priority and figured out what I needed to do to love riding again.

Oliver Evans
Oliver Evans. Image: Lauren MacRae

There isn’t one thing I did to reverse my depression. It was a combination of many things. But the most important was that I allowed my people in and built my support network. I put my mental health first for the first time ever and allowed my mind to take whatever time it needed to heal. I did yoga, started riding my bike for fun again, ate a lot of cookies, wrote and spent a lot of time outside.

My depression and anxiety weren’t eliminated. I took the time and used several strategies to get out of the particularly deep hole I was in. Once I felt I was pretty much back to “normal,” I had learned to roll with it. I’m better at preventing depression’s domination and better at accepting the lows. It comes in waves, and sometimes you just have to ride them. You can’t fight it.

Who’s your favourite teammate?
from Conor O’Brien of H&R Block Pro Cycling

Definitely not Conor O’Brien.

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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