— Benoît Boulay (@dfsunshine) November 30, 2015
Following in the footsteps—or the tread patterns, more accurately—of Canada’s Michael Woods, who went from a stellar career as a runner to one of the country’s top cyclists, two Guelph, Ont. athletes have traded in their running shoes for the saddle, the Guelph Mercury reported.
The athletes, Kyle Boorsma and Benoit Boulay, each boasted major successes as runners with the Guelph Gryphons—and each, the Mercury reported, turned to cycling for different reasons.
“In 2014,” Boorsma told reporters, “I was trying to make a comeback for running, but was injured. Cycling is cross-training for running. We did two races, but we did them for fun. We didn’t really consider ourselves cyclists, it was just a thing to do.”
“In one of the races,” he continued, “I won and Ben [Boulay] came third and John Parrott, another runner, came fourth.” His embarking upon a career in cycling, of course, might have surprised observers of his career as a runner—something that could be said of either athlete. A native of Guelph, Boorsma was honoured as the University of Guelph’s top male athlete for three consecutive seasons, from 2009 through 2011, in recognition of his accomplishments in track and field as well as cross-country.
“In cycling you don’t have the impact beating up your body and stuff like that. I was getting better and better and better really quickly, so it was really fun.”
Nonetheless, the thrill of the saddle had its effect, and Boorsma was in. “We kind of got the taste of success in cycling,” he said, adding that—in spite of injuries later sustained on the bike, like a collarbone broken during a crash this season—transitioning from running to cycling after being hurt had an “encouraging” effect.
“Whereas running I was always getting injured,” he explained, “in cycling you don’t have the impact beating up your body and stuff like that. I was getting better and better and better really quickly, so it was really fun.”
Boulay, meanwhile, who graduated from the University of Guelph a couple of years ago and was the Gryphons’ team captain, came to the saddle by way of a taste for adventure—and through the example of his friend, Boorsma. “When I was done school,” he told the Mercury’s reporters, “I did a little bit of climbing and a little but of cycling and then Kyle started racing. We thought that was pretty fun so we decided that we should start racing and it just sort of snowballed from there.”
Now, that snowballing is picking up ever greater momentum. Since setting out as cyclists, the two runners-turned-riders have had their eyes on riding for Montreal’s Team Transporte Lacombe – Devinci, whose colours they’ll be competing in starting next season. With 2016 being their second season of competition, the two riders are hoping that competition at the national Elite level with Transport Lacombe – Devinci can push them even harder, with the success to show for it.
“It’s been a little bit up and down,” Boulay told reporters, looking back at his freshman season of competition. The shorter races at the beginning of the year were pretty good and I kind of moved up the ranks pretty quickly, but the longer races, as an 800 metres , [are] a bit longer than I’m used to, but we’re training for that and working on all the things we can improve.”
For Boulay, Boorsma and the rest of the riders’ teammates on the Transport Lacombe – Devinci squad, training for the 2016 season has officially kicked off.