Friday, May 18, 2012

My Hardest First Week of Training Yet by Patrick Marsh

Son Patrick with Brad!
When my pops first mentioned to me that he planned to ride his bike across the country in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada I must admit, I thought he was joking. But after many subsequent emails and phone calls I knew it was something he was dead set on doing. Having ridden with him many times over the past few years I was a little worried how he’d make out. After many nights attempting to plan the logistics of the ride and hearing him say many times “the ride is actually going to be the easiest part” I was very concerned that he may have been underestimating how hard the ride was going to be, particularly the high mountain passes. Even though over the last number of months my dad had been transforming so much of himself into the best condition since his playing years, he was still no Andy Schleck. Furthering to my worry, I’ve seen my old man ride steep roads in the past, particularly at last years Penticton Gran Fondo. I witnessed his unique climbing style: a combination of foul language, pedaling squares, nearly bonking, and zigzagging across the road. Fast forward to April 29th of this year and I was truly set up for some serious surprises.

Due to training and work commitments I was (and am) unable to join my pops for extended periods of time to ride with him. However, I managed to time my first week back at training in my 2012-2013 speed skating season with a week off of work. I was planning on riding with my dad through some of the hardest high mountain passes on his journey. Meeting him in Revelstoke, BC on the 29th of April my brother and I joked that ‘the super-domestique’ had arrived to ferry my dad across the mountains. To be honest, I was expecting just that. I was expecting to be dragging my old man up and down mountains while never putting myself in too much physical strain.

Patrick & Brad bonding on the bikes!
However, starting my first ride of the training season on April 30th we set off to climb Roger’s Pass. Besides riding in snow and rain the ride was actually quite enjoyable. I’ve said it many times, but riding your bike is truly one of the greatest ways to see the country and despite freezing rain and snow, we were actually making great time. Every time I seemed to push the pace, Dad followed no problem. Then around 50k into ride and after many waves and honks from the national speed skating team en route to a training camp in Penticton, BC, we set up the final kick to the top of Roger’s Pass. Two things stood out to me. First, climbing Roger’s Pass on your first day of training is hard. Really hard. Second, my old man was not showcasing the unique (and hilarious) climbing style I had witnessed the previous summer. He got into his own rhythm, focused on staying in that rhythm and began to make his own way up the final kick. Once we got to the top I had truly noticed the biggest change in my old man. Waiting for a hilarious and likely politically incorrect statement about how hard the climb had been he rolled into the parking, unclipped and said, “That was sweet!”

Surprised, hungry and cold, I joined him and my brother for some lunch at the top of Roger’s Pass before finishing our ride to Golden, BC. Over the next few days, we would be climbing several other mountains, getting rained and snowed on much, much more, battling some of the worst head/cross wings I’ve experienced and being spoiled with one of my most memorable moments on a bicycle yet: a police escort through Calgary. One thing never did happen in my days with my old man though. Never did I once get the sensation that I was ‘dragging him through the mountains.’ Every time I felt as if I was pushing the pace, he’d surprise me again by taking the lead and pulling for a while himself.

Once arriving in Calgary and getting the chance to meet everyone at the Boys and Girls club I saw first hand the absolute best part of this entire journey: little kids running circles around my dad.

Pat Marsh (Team Marsh Member and son)

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