I wrote To Make Riders Faster to inspire as well as to entertain (there should always be some humour and fun in whatever we do). Phil and Gerard’s story was incredible: success against the odds. If you know the story, you know that behind the success was hard work, stress, grit and determination. This is true of any athlete’s story, as well. Day after day, they practice their drills, they analyze, they try to do better. All in anticipation of a race when they need to believe in their preparation and in their abilities, physically and mentally, regardless of the uncertain outcome.
I’m fascinated with the mindset of athletes. Last week I asked Jane Rinard, a 10X US Masters Track National Champion and 2X Canadian Masters Track National Champion, to tell me about her story as a competitive cyclist.Jane started swimming competitively at the young age of 8. At the age of 37, living in Southern California, she started competitive cycling, specializing in time trialing. By the age of 49, she had turned her attention to track cycling, specializing in the pursuit (a 2k race) and also competed in the 500m. Her most memorable race was the 2010 30km TT Ontario Championships where she won the Masters Women’s category. Jane not only set a personal best but won the race only 10 weeks after completing treatment for cancer.
Following are excerpts of our conversation:
Q. You started competitive cycling at 37 and you are a 10X US Masters Track National Champion and a 2X Canadian Masters Track National Champion. Tell me how you got started.
A. I was road racing, specializing in time trial. A coach at the time did a series of tests and it became obvious that I was more suited to short, high-power events. My friends were road cyclists so I didn’t act on the feedback. That changed when I met a man who was an avid track cyclist. He ignored me when we first met so I asked him if he would take me to the track and teach me how to ride. I became a competitive track cyclist and he’s now my husband.
Q. What do you enjoy most about track cycling?
A. The training. Training for track cycling is fun, super intense. The people I trained with were an amazing group of dedicated, intense cyclists. We also had an amazing group of support people: for instance, Tony, who would motor pace us. You would ride behind him and you could go much faster because he broke the wind for you. Riding behind the motor pace was so much fun. You got going so fast. It was such a thrill.
Q. What was the most challenging aspect of your sport?
A. The pursuit sounds pretty easy because you ride for 3 minutes but the last 30 seconds were so painful. The short, really intense pain was difficult. You just wanted to say, I’m done. You wanted to get off the track. But you didn’t. It’s you against the clock and you wanted to do your very best.
Q. How did you manage the intense pain?
A. Pacing was important. In a pursuit you could not go out in a sprint pace and expect to survive. You just couldn’t do it. Pacing was important so that the pain only lasted for a shorter period of time and could be more easily managed. I have a mantra that you can do anything for 30 seconds. I told myself I could do anything for one more lap. It was worth the suffering to have the best result.
Q. What would you say is your most important athletic achievement and why?
A. The Ontario Provincial TT Championship in 2010. I trained really hard while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I was determined to race even if I had to crawl across the finish line. I remember being so determined and focused. My main rival started two minutes after me and I kept thinking, I’m not letting her pass me. I had no idea where she was behind me, but it was this determination and fear – I wasn’t letting her get near me! I did a personal best in that race. It was an amazing ride and one of my favourite accomplishments. It was an amazing day!
Q. Did your sport help you through your cancer treatments?
A. Absolutely. I was in good shape and there’s a mindset that an athlete can take to other challenges. The determination to get things done and to say, I can get through this – I’ve gotten through some years of hard work outs and I can do this.
Q. What’s the best part about competing?
A. Winning! But really, the best part is the camaraderie. When I was road racing, I had a close group of women that I trained and raced with. I’m still in touch with a lot of these women and I haven’t raced with them in probably 15 years. There’s something to be said about racing and competing with other women that creates an amazing bond. I think truly that’s it.
Q. What’s your race routine?
A. There are so many uncertainties when you’re racing. You have to focus on those things that you can make certain, for example, your equipment is ready, you know what side of the track you’re on and all the other silly things like making sure you have proper clothing and shoes.
The other thing I do right before I start a race is touch the track and say, I own this track. It gets me ready to race.
Q. What’s your most important lesson from cycling?
A. I have a plaque that I refer to when I’m training that says, winners do what losers don’t want to do. If you want to accomplish something, you have to do things you don’t want to do and that are sometimes painful.
Q. What have you learned from the book, To Make Riders Faster?
A. The idea that that if you want to succeed, you have to do stuff that’s really painful. I learned that from you, Phil and Gerard, and what you did with Cervélo. It’s not easy to succeed and if you want it, you have to work really hard and figure out how to get around the big obstacles. The bike stuff was interesting but to me, the more interesting story was overcoming the obstacles.
By the way, I still have my T4 bike and hope to get on it again one of these days. And I won many of my medals on a Cervélo!
Q. One word for cycling?
A. Adventure. A big part of my cycling has been bike touring. You can ride a bike and find something cool or an exciting new place within 5 miles from your home!
Q. Any last thoughts?
A. Get out and ride a bike! Cycling has done amazing things for my life. I met my husband. I’ve seen things I never would have.
What did I learn from Jane? Joyfulness.
DREAM – BELIEVE – DO – LEARN – BE KIND – REPEAT