Toronto Hustle – Hold Fast ep. II
“When you have teammates, you always have some to ride for, someone to keep pushing you, and someone encouraging you to dig a little deeper”
It’s still cold in Toronto in early May – so the warm embrace of the west coast sunshine was particularly appealing. Toronto Hustle made the five-hour flight west to Southern California for the 33rd annual Redlands Bicycle Classic. Redlands marked the fifth stop on the 2017 USA Pro Road Tour and the combination of weather, terrain, and talent promised to push the limits of our new squad.
In the weeks leading up to the race, enthusiasm for racing one of the biggest stage races in the US was measured by a collective understanding of the challenges that lay ahead. Our road captain Anton Varabei was the only rider on the team who had ever raced Redlands before, so naturally, we leaned on his experience for advice and insight.
A quick scan of stage winners and overall contenders from the past few decades illuminates the significance of Redlands. Many of the winners have landed bigger contracts with more prominent teams, often making the leap to world tour with strong performances in the mountains of Southern California. It’s safe to say, Redlands is a key target for all of the top continental riders.
Upon arrival, we were particularly excited to introduce our two junior riders to the pro peloton – At just 17, Noah Simms and Graydon Staples were the youngest riders to take the start, and the opportunity to taste this level of competition is a critical step in their development.
Training and preparation is an essential part of the sport – but the importance of experience, confidence, and resilience can’t be overstated. Five stages over 844 kilometres proved to be a tall order. While there were moments for optimism, our experienced confirmed that as of yet we’re a few steps away from dictating the race – and although it’s difficult – we can’t be afraid of going up against the best teams – because everything we’re chasing is on the other side of fear. For each each victory, there will be hundreds of failures along the way – and that’s what makes success so rewarding.
So much of our lives remain centered around instant gratification, and convenience – few forums exist where you can truly explore your deepest physical limits – where you test your mental capacity to cope with tribulations and rise to the occasion. With the chaos of bike racing, the life off the bike becomes simpler, everyday challenges become less daunting, and you gain confidence to confront adversity.
In North America, the domestic pro peloton is capable of ferocious and dramatic racing. The season is long and many more opportunities lay just up the road. With a stacked calendar, the boys will take the experience and lessons learned from Redlands, and press forward. Always forward.
Words: Brad Bradford Video: Lossless Creative