by Oliver Evans
Here are some questions that have come in since my last column. Please keep them coming.
Do you have any superstitions?
After trying really hard to think of one, I suppose that having to search so long to find one is perhaps indicative that I do not. I have doubts before races, and refuse to eat dairy the day before a competition, but nothing superstitious comes to mind. Although (and don’t tell my mechanic), I will always ensure that my front and rear wheels are properly secured in their respective dropouts, valves are closed and brakes aren’t rubbing. I don’t think that counts as superstition, but if I forget to do it before a race, I’m always a little nervous when I realize I hadn’t done it as we begin an 80 km/h descent.
How do you like having supporters at your races?
My feelings about supporters at races have certainly evolved. I used to hate having family or friends around. I always felt the need to entertain someone who came out specifically to watch me race, as though they were guests at my house. This situation would stress me out as I wanted to focus on the race and my warmup, but I also didn’t want them to be bored or alone or feel ignored.
This year, however, at my first race after taking time off, my father, my girlfriend, her father and sister were all there watching. There were other people in the crowd that I knew as well. I knew the majority of the guys I was racing, too. People were yelling my name from the sidelines all over the course throughout the entire race. Guys I was racing against, such as Brendan Armstrong and Ty Andrews, encouraged me as I raced alongside them, sometimes putting a hand on my back to push me into a draft, or letting me in in front of them.
I could feel the support. This was my first ride, let alone race, in three months. I was by no means fit, but the encouragement fuelled me. I made it to the finish. It was an incredible feeling, an overwhelming sense of belonging. I finally realized the importance of having supporters present. Now I want family and friends at every race.
What are some of your best rituals or routines?
I like to have everything prepared the afternoon before a competition, so that the evening and morning are as stress-free as possible. The last thing I want is to be scrambling to find my shoes or helmet when we’re heading out the door. If we’re leaving early, I’ll usually prep my homemade muesli for the morning as well, fill my bottles, lay out my outfit for the morning and leave my bag open and packed by the door so I can throw my snacks in from the fridge before heading out.
I also like to be as clean as possible before a race. This used to mean trimming my nails, showering, shaving my legs and putting lotion on after and shaving my face. Now it’s all of the above, but I trim the hair on my face instead of shaving it.
Before a time trial, I like to drive and then ride the course. Then, I do my best to visualize the course the night before. I also like to get an easy spin in after a long drive to a race, even if it’s 1 a.m. when we arrive.
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.