I was reminded on Saturday of the truest high I feel when racing my bike. It’s not winning. It’s not speed. It’s going into the race as a team with a plan, and riding as one perfectly functional and dominant unit to execute the plan flawlessly. You feel important and most of all, you feel as though you are part of something bigger.
On Saturday we headed to the Mount Pleasant area in Vancouver, for the Vancouver is Awesome Grand Prix (Criterium Provincials). With some crit success over the past few weeks and a provincial title to defend, we were determined to own the race.
Eight Trek Red Truck riders lined up for the start of the ~80 minute crit. We knew full well that we had two of the strongest sprinters going into the race, and were perfectly content doing what we could to control the race and deliver Al and Riley to the line. Riley, our junior, has a kick that few can compete with and as our rider who would benefit most from a win (and was our best shot), there was no question that we wanted him on the top step.
You go into every race with a plan. It’s rare that it works out. We’ve been fighting sickness and injury all season, and this was our first time lining up with a full and healthy squad. We were hungry.
Shortly after the race started I was off the front with Dylan Davies. A couple other riders bridged up, but I knew not to work too hard until we had more Red Truckers, one of them needing to be Riley or Al. Before long, we had five TRT guys in the break that grew to 11. Riley and Al were both there. It was time to work.
Alex Fraser Mauran, Kyle Buckowsky and myself worked alongside Al and Riley, doing what we could to keep them out of the wind while we rotated at the front. Our goal: lap the peloton. Meanwhile, Brendan, Clarke and Chris kept the peloton together, ensuring that no other threats got away.
Once the peloton was lapped, it was announced that the field would sprint for twelfth place with four laps to go, and the group of eleven that had lapped them would then race the remaining laps to fight for the podium.
Our work was cut out for us, despite having lapped the field, as the race was now ours to lose. We went straight to covering attacks to keep the peloton together and ensuring that no one who had lapped the field with us snuck away.
With thirty minutes to go, the first hour of effort was taking its toll on my legs. I decided to try something new and sat up. I wanted to have something in the tank for when dangerous attacks started to happen near the end of the race and rode easily for five or so laps to unlap the group. I drank water and spun the legs out, then hopped back in when the group caught me again, now refreshed to do everything I could to keep it together for the boys. I was technically lapped by the breakaway now, but on the same lap as the peloton.
With four to go the field sprinted, and we watched from the sidelines as the final laps played out. Alex, Al, Kyle and Riley rode incredibly to sweep the podium, planting Riley on the top step and Al and Kyle on the other two. It was perfect.
The satisfaction we felt having pulled this off is unparalleled. We came into this season expecting some solid results and finally, we got more than we ever could have asked for. Each rider rode smartly, communicated and put their all into the race. As we were racing, anytime I put myself in the wind, I was motivated to go faster, pull longer, or cover another move, all because I knew that I had a train of red and white behind me, and it would be worth it.
On a personal level, I felt a bit emotional the following day as I processed what we had done. The feeling of family, camaraderie and brotherhood that a team effort like that inspires is my favourite part of being a rider. I often forget this and haven’t felt it for years. I feel an indisputable sense of belonging when I’m riding in a train and feel stronger than I do when standing alone.
I felt strong. I felt capable. And I felt selfless. I felt right, riding for my boys.
I joined this team with the goal of supporting my teammates on their way to results. Finally, I feel that I’ve contributed.
I am so proud to represent our sponsors and so grateful to be a part of this program. My relationship with the sport is always fluctuating, as I’ve said 1,000 times before, but Saturday reminded me that no matter how many times I’ve hung my bike up, I’ll always pull it down, dust it off, and get back on.
So thank you. Thank you to La Bicicletta for putting on such a wicked event. Thank you to my team, the riders and the massive crowd behind the scenes that makes results like this possible and thanks Red Truck Beer for hydrating us on the podium.
Most of all though, thank you, for helping me belong as a part of something bigger.
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he is riding with Trek Red Truck Racing.