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The Carnival of Frustration or How I got involved in this
By Celine Tytgadt
Date: 6/15/2002
The Carnival of Frustration or How I got involved in this
Nick White is one of the riders part of the ABC-Aitos team.  He's Australian trying to make it as a professional cyclist in Belgium.  The Daily Peloton visited the Cycling Center - run by Bernard Moerman - and more explanation can be found here or visit the Cycling Center homepage.  If you want to stay updated on how Nick (aged 22) is doing or his teammates (ABC-Aitos), stay tuned on the Daily Peloton as we they were so kind to send us their diaries.  On this page, you can read how Nick got involved in cycling..... (Make sure to email him your encouragements!)


The Carnival of Frustration or How I got involved in this Kermesse

Well I was thinking of writing a race report for my last two races (Wassland Championship and Oudenburg Kermesse) but I didn't really think that less than 2 hours racing deserved Booker Prize winning commentary, and anyhow, my performance isn't exactly thrilling for you to read about!

For what its worth though, the powers that be here at ABC Aitos have dedcided that I need to race more!

I think this is a great idea. I love racing, I have a lot to learn and I love the challenge.

However, I don't think the other teams will be particularly thrilled by this. Not because I'm good and pose some kind of threat to them, but because I can't accelerate out of corners, I crash frequently, cut off their chase attacks accidently and generally get in their way and make a tense situation just that little bit worse!

This begs a little explanation.

I have been cycling only 9 months and I've been racing for about 5 weeks. My first ever race was an Elite Belgian Kermesse at Boekhout, and my skill level is approximately less than, or equal to, zero!

That first race, I was so nervous that my pulse was 160 on the start line! It went downhill fairly quickly from that moment as you can imagine.

You see, like many people, I saw the videos of the Tour and I'd read a few magazines. I thought I'd try out cycling for cross training in my rowing career. Eventually I began to think 'I can do that'. However, unlike most people, I made a career decision while watching TdF vids...Let my example be a lesson to you!!! Don't be as dumb as me! It's WAY harder than it looks!

I originally began cycling, as mentioned above, as cross training for rowing. Originally I spent 6 years as an elite level rower. I was fortunate enough to pull on the Australian Team gear on different occasions, to race in Europe (my fave course is actually in Belgium at Hazewinkel, near Mechelen) at World Championships and I look forward to wearing the green and gold again someday, either in cycling or rowing.

I began riding after reading 'It's not about the bike' by everyone's favourite superhero. The way Lance described cycling really appealed to me. The culture and passion of it, the traditions, and the beautiful stage on which all the drama took place, it sounded so much more involving and exciting than the clinical world that was elite rowing. (Of course the reality i know now is a little different, but im keeping the dream alive!)

I found myself enjoying cycling so much more. There were so many different ways to push myself, so many beautiful things to see, so many quiet roads and incredible views on just one traning ride that I quickly began to fall in love with it.

I also loved the sense of community in cycling. You could meet up with a group of riders on a Saturday morning, begin talking and soon become good friends. The ranges of abilities and backgrounds all in one place and all sharing the same love for riding really impacted me too. Rowing certainly was not a social sport.

I decided to get more serious about my cycling after some encouragement from the local group ride legends and bought 'The Lance Armstrong Performance Program' by Chris Carmichael. The program and excellent advice in the book is still what I follow today, varied of course, by Chris and Craig Undem of Carmichael Training Systems ( who I now work with personally. I benefit enormously from the experience and professionalism of the staff and service there.

The 2001 World Rowing Championships were in Luzern, Switzerland. Luzern is still one of my favourite European cities, and there is nothing quite like sitting at Mr Pickwicks Pub on Lake Lucerne in the shadow of Mount Pilatus, a beautiful pink in the evening twilight, as the tourists, locals and rowdy rowers enjoy the magic, almost enchanting atmosphere of a late Summer evening there.

I decided that I would do some training in the Alps, Jura and Dolomiti after the championships to give me a really solid base for the next rowing season, and I headed to France and began my journey at Alpe d'Huez.

That is the place where I made the swap from rowing to cycling, and the day where I discovered my Muse as an athlete and the real reasons for why I do this.

It was such a beautiful day, and the ride through the Romanche Valley as you approach the Alpe is incredible.

As I made my way up that first incline on the Alpe, something triggered in me, and as I climbed with the late summer sun and sweet mountain air surrounding me, something changed. I huurt so much on that climb, but it was liberating and beautiful. I felt a part of something bigger as the names of so many champions passed under my wheels...I felt amazed to have been on the same climb as so many of those legends. It was like for every meter I climbed, my soul reached a higher level also.

When I reached the top, it was a really special moment for me. I really felt as though I'd climbed out of a lot of problems and had found my new motivation.

And that is what being an athlete is all about for me.

If I ever make it as a pro, it will not be because I am one of those people who desperately needs to win. It will be because it is an expression of how I love life and the Earth on which I live. Anything I win will be a by product of my quest to find myself and because I love the challenge of finding the peak of the physically hardest thing to do on Earth.

The next month was filled with reaffirmations of this new attitude. As time went on, I couldn't justify racing on man made glorified swimming pools any more, nor could I envisage myself making numbers or corporate takeovers more important than my love for God, for life and being outside to enjoy and challenge myself in it.

There was no way a cherrry wood and stainless steel office with designer funiture could compare to seeing the mist of my own breath as I rode through pine forests and switchbacks with nothing but the ethereal silence of snow falling softly on those ancient beautiful trees and a river carving through the valley, slaved only to time.

I will always now be slave to the feeling of lactic satisfyingly burning in my legs as I have my head down through the fields of Vlaanderen at 50km/h, etching out my career kilometer by kilometer.

Some people will write, or draw or create music to express how they feel inside. For me, I ride a bike. The challenge is my outlet for expression.

Many people say 'what are your goals?' to an athlete, fully expecting them to talk about olympic medals or career defining victories.

For me, my goal is to be good enough that I can enjoy spending my time with my wonderful Katy and my family. Whatever other benefits come along with that goal, I will be thankful to God for them and realise their place as things around me, not a part of me.

So enjoy your life out there. Be focussed, but remember what is really important.

When you're on your bike, by all means be crazed and passionate and agressive, but the moment you put your bike down in the garage, flick the switch. Forget the weight of a Dura-Ace derailleur or if the bike polish you use may weigh more than another brand...forget that stuff. Give as much commitment to the other areas in your life.

For me right now, I'm struggling on the bottom rung of the ladder. After I get pulled at Kermesse, I can get a litte antsy, but then I remember the bigger picture, and after all, it's the journey not the destination which is so beautiful and what I will ultimately take satisfaction in. I will be doing my best.

I'd love to hear from you all on how you got involved in cycling, on how it makes you feel, how you fit it into the rest of your life. Don't be shy! Communicate!

After all, we're all a community and inside we all love our sport, no matter if you're Lance or a weekend warrior.

Live life with passion and keep riding a bike in its proper place

Im off to England this weekend to see my awesome mum and to spend my birthday with Katy. I then head off to France to go and feed my soul in the Alps. I'll be taking the camera and I'll try to write something about it while I'm there.

Thanks for reading!

Oostende, Belgium.

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