I had a relatively normal childhood, I learned to ride a bike just like everyone else my age. I was reluctant to lose the training wheels though. Somewhere at home, there’s a picture of me with my foot duct taped to the pedals of my Canadian Tire brand bike. Looking back on that, it wasn’t the safest thing in the world.
My friends in school all lived pretty close to my house, so riding my bike to go over for a play date was the way to go. That lasted until I was about 11. Then I don’t think I rode my bike more than three times a year until I got to my senior year of high school.
I graduated in June of 2016 and then had two months of absolutely nothing to do before starting college in September. Two weeks into the Summer Break I was bored out of my mind and hated that I was spending all my time inside, despite the fact that the sun was out and it was a beautiful summer.
So one day (just after Canada Day if I remember correctly) I went out to the shed and uncovered my old mountain bike, dusted it off and pumped some fresh air into the tires. God this thing hadn’t been ridden in at least a year by this point.
From there I just started riding. 20km a day. There was a little forest trail behind my house that I would ride all the way up into the next town. When I started, my trips would last just under an hour and by the time I rode home my legs were tired, my ass was sore, and I was sweaty all over. Still…something caught my attention here.
I wanted something to do. There needed to be something to occupy my life between finishing high school and starting college. Riding a bike eventually became a task that I could do each day and it wasn’t inhibiting my life in any way. In fact, it started to make me happier.
One day, I went longer than I normally did. I blew past the usual turn-around point and continued further and eventually ended up doubling the distance that I would’ve done otherwise. I was hooked. I didn’t know what exactly I was hooked on, whether it was the burn in the legs, the aching in my lungs or the feeling of freedom that I could go anywhere I wanted to.
This fascination continued to grow throughout the summer and expanded ten-fold by the time I moved away to college. All my spare time was spent consuming cycling content through YouTube, podcasts, documentaries and magazines.
I got a subscription to Cycling Canada for Christmas that year.
I wanted to go farther, faster and harder.
But exactly how could I go about doing that? It seemed that all the pros I watched had gotten into cycling when they were kids, like seven, eight and nine years-old and grew up with road bikes all around them. I certainly didn’t have that.
It was around this time in my life when I really discovered the importance of food and its affect on athletic performance and the body. I did a bunch of reading about foods, gut health and performance nutrition. I wanted to learn as much as I could about it and I’m still no expert, but I can tell you that I’m definitely a lot more knowledgeable than when I moved away to college.
This was when I started to experiment with food. I made some weird shit. Like really weird shit. I made a beet and carrot smoothie one time, not even a juice. This had the consistency of toothpaste and left a rather undesirable taste in my mouth. I would eat tuna straight from the can and spirulina by the mouthful. Let’s just say that inexperience in the kitchen wasn’t my friend during this time.
I quickly realized, when I was home for reading week that year, that the trusty old mountain bike that had taken up residence in the shed once more, wouldn’t cut it if I wanted to pursue this passion. I didn’t want to be the person who blamed their inability to do something on the fact that they lacked the physical materials to do so, but in this case it was true.
I couldn’t be a road cyclist without a road bike.
So, I bought a road bike.
My dad and I went down to the Toronto International Bike show and a few hours later I left the building with a brand-new white Trek Road Series 1.2. I bought myself some pedals, shoes, bib-shorts and a jersey. As far as I was concerned, I was more than ready to start pursuing my passion of becoming a road cyclist. I met a gentleman there who used to race on the Polish National Team back in the day and he said something that really stuck with me, even to this day, it still resonates with me. Each time I go out for a ride, his words are in the back of my head.
“Ride everyday. Even if it’s up the road. The important thing in life is that you ride every. Single. Day.”
As soon as I finished college that year I came home and the second night that I was home, I was out on my bike. I didn’t make it far, only 40 kms from home. That’s all my ass could handle. Yet it was the feeling of being outside, riding the shoulders and having the road whisk by underneath me. That’s what I became addicted to.
Like I’ve said before, there’s no more simple pleasure than riding a bike.