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Holly Simonson – Elite BC Provincial Champion. Photo courtesy: TLBVelo Photography

PCC Athletes had a successful day at the BC Road Race Provincial Championships last weekend. Holly Simonson was crowned champion in the elite women’s race and Luke Hubner in the Junior Boys category. Keisha Besler was fifth in the women’s elite race. Micaiah Besler won the U23 Women category but as a non-BC resident couldn’t claim the championship title. She was sixth overall in the race.

Other top ten athletes were: Amiel Flett-Brown (seventh) and Chris MacLeod (ninth) in the Elite Men. Caleb Bender was fourth in the U23 and Brenna Pauly 10th in the Elite Women/U23 Cat 1/2/3.

Congratulations to everyone.

Luke Hubner – Junior Boys BC Provincial Champion. Photo courtesy: TLBVelo Photography

On the podium at the Mill Bay Road Race – Alex Amiri, Alexander Fraser-Maraun and Luke Hubner

After 17 months away from racing PCC athletes are back racing. They pinned on their numbers on Wednesday, July 14th, at the Victoria Cycling League’s first road race, Newton Heights. Alex Amiri took the win in the men’s A category, while Luke Hubner (junior) and Keisha Besler had podium finishes in the B men’s and women’s races.

On Sunday, July 18th, the athletes travelled to Vancouver to race Jeremy’s Roubaix, where Chris Macleod finished 4th in the elite men’s field, and Holly Simonson finished 2nd in the elite woman’s race. Back on Vancouver Island the Victoria Cycling League hosted its second race, the Cherry Point Road Race, just north of Victoria where Alex Amiri, Luke Hubner, Keisha Besler had podium finishes in their respective categories after a hard-fought race.

Most recently on July 23rd, 24th, and 25th, the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association hosted Track Fest #1, where Luke Hubner and Caleb Bender podium finished in the A Category. Brenna Pauly, Holly Simonson, and Micaiah Besler had strong showings in the A categories, racing in mixed fields with the men, resulting in Micaiah winning the Points race.  PCC U18 rider Parker Swanstrom also rode well in the A Category field. Keisha finished her first track race in 2nd place in a mixed (men and women) B Category Omnium.

Women’s podium at the Mill Bay Road Race – Keisha Besler, Isla Walker and Holly Simonson

The Victoria Cycling League hosted their third and fourth races of the season with the Windsor Park Criterium on July 24th and the Mill Bay Road Race on July 25th. With PCC athletes competing at Track Fest on the 24th only Chris Macleod attended the Windsor Park Criterium supporting his Trek Red Truck team mate to third place. The Following day PCC athletes came out in force to the Mill Bay Road Race. Alex,  Luke, Keisha, and Holly podium finished in their category after another hard road race, with Luke finishing third in the A category.

While the local races were happening, two PCC athletes Holly Henry and Zoe Saccio were racing in Intelligentsia Cup in Chicago from July 16 – 25.

The rest of the Victoria Cycling League calendar and host clubs is as follows:

Tuesday, July 27 – Speedway – Tripleshot

Wednesday, July 28 -Newton Heights – Wheelers

Wednesday, August 11 – Newton Heights – Wheelers / Maybe Caleb

Tuesday, August 17 – Speedway – Tripleshot

Sunday, August 22 – Metchosin RR – VBC

Wednesday, August 25 – North Saanich – Wheelers (new course)

Sunday, August 29 – Windsor Park – OBB/Wheelers

Tuesday, August 31 – Speedway – Tripleshot

Also on Tuesdays are the weekly Time Trials hosted by the Sidney Velo Cycling Club.

“All PCC athletes are excited racing has started again and look forward to gaining their race fitness and skills that have been so dearly missed over the last year and a half,” said PCC Head Coach, Houshang Amiri.

The Cycling BC Provincial Championships will be back this year after having to cancel in 2020. Up first are the road championships in the Frazer Valley on August 7th and 8th.

PCC athlete Holly Simonson had some major goals for the 2020 season. Instead the 2019 U23 Provincial Road Champion took advantage of the down time to ride with friends and take on a few challenges.

Over the past four months, athletes (and everyone else around the globe) have had to adapt to new protocols and challenges. It is hard to reflect upon this experience concisely because of the significant ups and downs the past months of training have brought. Pre-pandemic, I was extremely motivated for the 2020 season. Being my last year in the U23 ranks, I had my eye on the maple leaf jersey at the Canadian Road Championships as well as goals for podiums at BC Super Week and Track Nationals. Needless to say, I was itching to get back out there with my teammates.

When the event cancellations began, I was just a couple weeks out from my team’s training camp in California. The camp would have been followed by the start of our season, including the Redlands Bicycle Classic where I was all set to race with a composite team. In the beginning, it was disbelief that swept over me, followed by the disappointment. We all felt this. Anyone with a goal centred around an event this year felt it. The Olympic athletes set to head to Tokyo certainly felt it more than I did.

Once I accepted that the season was really fading into nothing, I had to adjust my outlook. My coach, Houshang Amiri really helped me with this. He reminded me that this time can be used to improve upon things we would not usually get the chance to work on in-season. So, even though I haven’t been able to line up with my teammates and get those results I was hoping for, I have still grown stronger this year than I have ever been. Seeing that progression has been motivating for me.

One thing that has helped motivate me along the way is doing semi-regular 20min TT tests up at Goldstream Heights, a climb near Shawnigan Lake with about 300m elevation gain. It is fun to try and beat your previous time and power numbers. Admittedly, there were times where the motivation to ride has been much lower than it usually is. I really love racing my bike. Normally, I love the training too, but half of that is because it lets me perform at races. There were days where heading out for a long endurance ride on my own just didn’t feel fun or worth it. There were days when the weight of other stresses took my energy, and I had to learn how to be gracious with myself about missing a ride. Something I am still working on is not overthinking about what others are up to. Yes, it can be motivating to see those around you doing all this training, but if you get too much in the mode of comparing, it won’t do you any good.

During the past couple of months, I took part in a mentorship program put together by the Athlete’s Council. In one of the Zoom meetings, we heard from and ask questions to Tara Whitten. Something that really struck me from our talk was how her training only worked when she was in tune with her body. To be able to listen to your body and do right by it is super hard, but I think it is something I have got better at this year. Part of this requires not comparing how much riding you are doing with how much others are doing. Not everyone reacts the same to the same training. I think knowing this will help me as I continue working towards my goals; having Houshang be such a trusting coach has also been a big part of this learning development. Of course, he knows when to push you, but he also listens and trusts when you need it.

Now, back to the fun stuff. It has been great to get to ride with some teammates and friends again recently as things started to open up in BC. I really love long rides with good company, especially if the day includes exploring new roads and a top-notch snack stop along the way. When things were really tightened up, and no group riding was allowed, I was super fortunate to have my partner Colin and my family in my COVID bubble (built-in riding buddies). Having a few more people to ride with now is something I won’t take for granted ever again. Getting to soak in all the beautiful riding that the lower island has to offer has been really special, and getting to do it in the spring and summer months is unusual for me.

Another thing that was really fun was taking part in Rob Britton/The Last Ride BC’s weekly coffee hunt. At the start of each of the six weeks, a Strava segment was posted and somewhere along the segment (of mostly trail) a bag of Eleven Speed Coffee was hidden. The final challenge was a one-day ride where you had to connect all of the segments together. This was a really fun adventure, and it was cool to see all the people in the Victoria bike community who took part, as well as the local businesses who provided support.

This time away from racing has made me feel lost, has made me question my identity outside of sport, and has brought on all sorts of other emotions. But it has also made me sure of how much I want to keep racing my bike and how cycling can be a part of regular life, used as a tool for fun, for adventure, for mental and physical health, and to push your limits. I am so excited to push my limits this summer, notably when I set out for “the big loop” ride (a 260km loop of the lower island) along with some other PCC athletes and Red Truck Racing teammates.