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November 21/03 7:11 am - Hughes Diary, Blizzard Year-End Report


Posted by Editor on 11/21/03
 

Clara Hughes Diary

Clara Hughes has been keeping a web diary, which she sends us (and gives permission to publish). Now that Clara has retired from competitive cycling, most of her thoughts are on speedskating, however, we felt this one was particularly inspirational. You can read Clara's diary on her website - www.clarahughes.ca

November, 20, 2003 - Heerenveen, NED

The bus travels at an annoyingly slow pace to our Dutch destination, Heerenveen. Over three hours ago we left Erfurt, Germany, the sight of World Cup #2 in the 2003/04 speed skating season. As we creep through the landscape littered with leftover autumn hues, the beauty of the rolling hills makes me wish I was on my bike. Certain places call out to two-wheeled creatures like me, as if the terrain is longs for the effortless flow of the bicycle. But I am a speed skater, not a cyclist anymore. The result from 13 years of bike racing is an urge to pedal that is spurred on with such inviting terrain. It is inherent in me.

Monday is always a travel day for the team in while Europe. The taxing hours spent on trains, planes and automobiles serve also as the only precious day of rest. The stale, re-circulated air does not allow for good recovery; we are often left feeling more drained than after the previous day of racing.

When everything goes well the time flies while abroad. I think back to last year when the women's team traveled the wave of success each competition built on. We motivated each other by bettering our performances each time the gun fire echoed off the domed ceilings we skated under. This season has been far from this ideal that we created, and it is only through our strength as a unit that we keep perspective.

Every season it different: individuals who shined in the past have periods of drought, while others bounce back from perhaps a disappointing prior year. We came into these World Cups tired after a difficult autumn of training. We hope it will pay off later in the year. It is frustrating to come to Europe feeling strong but not sharp.

There are two ways to deal with the situation: one is to accept the results, the disappointment, and pretend it is okay and that we 'did our best'; the other is to go into every race with that same motivation we had last year: to be better than the last race and fight for every stride along the way. We have no choice but to fight. Seeing people faster than us right now motivates us to go back home and train harder, to train with intelligence. It is easy when there is an abundance of success to become complacent. Disappointment is merely a reminder of the attitude it takes to win. We are not satisfied with our performances, and the hunger to be better grows in each of us as the days
pass by.

I was fortunate enough to work with a very wise man for five years, my cycling coach Eric Van Den Eynde. We passed through many difficult times together (and believe me there were many) he always said one thing: 'Clara, if you've been good once, you will be good again.' He is so right. When the struggle is most intense it's easy to become negative, to think 'how did I ever perform at that level?' This is when one must be strong and look forward to find the desire and will to win. We have found this again, now we just need time to strengthen and hone this invaluable element to success.

Another wise man, this time my husband Peter, sent me a quote via e-mail that seems appropriate. He has been reading The Taoist Classics (ed. Thomas Cleary) by Lao Tsu, the wisest of 'wise men'. It is regarding the meaning of rest, a concept I often struggle with, and reads 'Those who want strength must preserve it with weakness'. With our motivation to train and become stronger, we must respect this, the practice of rest.

As the last World Cup of autumn approaches and we leave the remaining hints of autumn behind in Germany, not even the rain that saturates this coastal land can dampen our spirits. We have re-discovered the hunger necessary to compete; to win. We rode the wave of success last year, putting all of our energy into winning, and now we will channel that same energy into the battle we wage in fighting our way back to the top, where we belong, with the best skaters in the world.


Blizzard Bike Club Fort St. John, BC
Courtesy Pat Ferris

Year End Wrap Up

Fort St. John's Blizzard Bike Club enjoyed another excellent year, in 2003. The club had a large number of participants, up to 44 at one race alone.

Club membership is currently 102 cyclists. This is a lot of riders considering the club started with 12 in 1982!

As a club, the Blizzard won the Challenge Cup for the second year in a row. It was closer, however, as the Grande Prairie squad is getting more riders out. Stephen Ferris won two of the four Challenge Cup races with a win in the GP road race and the FSJ mountain bike race.

Blizzards were also very active in triathlons. A contingent attended and did very well in Grande Prairie, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Edmonton and Penticton. Ed Fornelli and Vaughn Hildebrand both did well in the Penticton Ironman Triathlon. Local riders were involved in two teams of adventure racers. The 'McElhanneys' did well in the Sea-to-Summit and the 'Energetics' survived a tough 36-hour non-stop adventure race.

Individual highlights include Tessa Bilodeau winning the Alberta Junior Girls Championship and Stephen Ferris making the Alberta Provincial Team for the Tour D'Abitibi. Wim Kok rode and finished the famous Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur in France. Gilbert Bilodeau brought home a silver medal from the Alberta Road Championships. Pat Ferris was 8th at the Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships in Vancouver. Terry Stone brought back 'some hardware' from the BC Seniors Games.

The cycling season is a long one. First ride is the New Years Day ride, under very civilized conditions this year. The first race was a chilly affair in late February. Last event was the National Cyclo Cross in Vancouver, November 9th. Blizzard riders compete locally as well as in Provincial and National events.

The club does a variety of events. These include time trials, road races, duathlons, the Tri-Co-op 2003 Triathlon, mountain biking, Randonneur and cyclo-cross. Eleven different riders won club races over the season, on road as well as off road. Top local riders were Robert Martens and Stephen Ferris. Stephen picked up 18 wins and Martens won 16 races.

Stephen Ferris who won 18 races in numerous time trials, set the fastest 16 km time of the year, won the Dawntech Mountain Bike Championship, two Challenge Cup races and tied Dave Damery in points for the Roubaix Cup Series.

Robert Martens won 16 races and was the top trophy winner. His many wins include the King Of Spring, Club Road Champion, Rocky Road Race, Spring Stage Race, Combines Cup and Race of the Fallen Leaves. He was unstoppable in road races, this year, and every year.

Other winners were Mike Hientzman who outpointed Martens to win the SeaCor Muddy Face Series in Cyclo Cross as well as the S & S Turbines Time Trial Championships.

On the ladies side Tessa Bilodeau and Tammy Howes were the dominant riders. Each won 11 club events.

Tammy Howes won eleven races, the Spring Stage Race, Combines Cup, Queen of Spring and Phoenix trophy's.

Tessa Bilodeau also won eleven races and is the reigning Alberta Junior Girls Road Champion.

Overall, road numbers were up. More riders came out for road events than ever before. Mountain bike numbers were down a bit. Duathlon competitors stayed about the same.
Next year the club will have its usual events. The Tri-Co-op 2004 triathlon will be in its 7th year. The BC Summer Games are happening this year, in Abbotsford. Selections for this zone for Cycling and Triathlons will be available. Masters age (over 30) athletes can look forward to the World Masters Games 2005 in Edmonton and 2006 in Vancouver.

The club will be looking forward to more indoor activities as winter encroaches. The club will be starting their winter 'turbo training' sessions. Some will continue to run and swim and some will be in the gym. Spring will be here, sooner than you think.
Check out the club's excellent web site at www.dawntech.bc.ca/blizzard for more information.

 


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