Trans Rockies Classic (TRC): Start with Why

If you’ve read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, you’ll understand the importance of nourishing the ‘Why’ that upholds any new undertaking. The ‘Why’ is your purpose, your drive, your reason for pushing forward in the face of adversity, and your reminder of what inspired you to begin the journey.  This is my TRC ‘Why’. 

If you missed my last blog, the Trans Rockies Classic: My next BHAG, I am training to complete a seven day mountain biking stage race from Fernie to Panorama, British Columbia. This is one of the hardest mountain biking races in the world; a true in this test of one’s mental and physical limits.

‘Your brain and body are fundamentally interwound and to understand your limits under any particular set of circumstances, you have to consider them both together” 

                                - Samuele Marcora. Quote taken from Endure by Alex Hutchinson 

My father’s final advice to me was ‘Just be you. You be you and that’s all you can be.’ At the time I couldn’t comprehend how invaluable this statement truly is. I have spent the last three years learning who I am and how to nourish my strengths. I’m competitive, focused, driven, and I love to achieve a goal. I love my family, the outdoors, and being active. This race encompasses everything that excites me about life.

I have a nerdy pastime of studying the complex interactions of the mind and body, and love exploring how our psychology influences our physiological limits.  I first began observing these interactions in my own performance during a recent three year obsession with CrossFit. I learned that it is ok to push yourself to the edge of exhaustion during activity; how to deal with that pain, and that my perception of the pain would create the boundaries of my performance.  In a race like the TRC, it is guaranteed you will suffer.  It will require both mental and physical strength to push through seven days of relentless climbing, while maintaining a base level of focus and precision to navigate the technical terrain in some of the most beautiful backcountry Canada has to offer. Though the contributions of the mind and body to human performance are widely debated, I find the challenge of improving mental tenacity along with physical performance a surprisingly appealing journey in personal growth.

Another nerdy little secret of mine is that I love learning. I would have been a professional student if it paid. This is another reason the TRC became an appealing target.  Mountain biking is basically an entirely new skill for me to learn, understand, and develop. It is an intricate blend of physical fitness, balance, agility, coordination, decision-making, and focus.  Learning to use my bike as a tool to conquer technical ascents and single track downhills will be a challenge to say the least, and one that I will need to devote the most time to.  Though during the race I always have the option to get off and ‘hike-a-bike’ through the technical terrain, I want to be able to ride as much as possible, and to do that, I have a lot to learn about bike control. Even though we are currently in the off season, I am already searching and gathering a network of experienced riders that will help me develop my skills and set my expectations. 

In my time as a CrossFit junkie, I learned that physical anguish is better in company.  This is why I am completing the TRC side-by-side with my brother, Kevin. Misery really does love company, and the two of us will hold nothing back and push each (and each other’s buttons!), putting our childhood coloured with competition and sibling rivalry to the ultimate test.  I’ll cover more on Kevin, and why we will make the best team, and the worst team, in my next TRC blog. 

The final aspect that makes the TRC appealing is the terrain.  The Canadian Rockies, though not where I was born, has always been a place I feel at home.  I love their rugged beauty, and just the thought of experiencing seven days exploring backcountry terrain on a bike makes me smile.  I am really excited to shift part of my exercise regime back to an outdoor sport, especially one that takes me to one of my favourite places on the planet, and one of the best features Canada has to offer, the Rocky Mountains.  

Considering all that encompasses the TRC in both training and execution, it seems like a perfect fit.  This goal combines all of the unique qualities that define me: physical fitness, mental strength, competition, team work, family, learning new skills, growing and developing a community, and a passion for the outdoors. I will be posting about my training, network, team, support systems, and the lessons learned as I progress towards this goal.  Feel free to follow along as the saga unfolds.