Like the thousands of snowbirds who head south for the winter, South Surrey track cyclist Jamie Shankland has also shown a real predilection for warmer climes so far this year.
First, was a two-month “working holiday” in Australia, and now the 27-year-old cyclist is focused on two more big events – Pan-Am trials, slated for Los Angeles this spring, and should he qualify, the Pan-Am Games themselves, which are to be held this October in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Not a bad gig, if you can get it.
But as much as Shankland – who grew up in Waterloo, Ont. and moved to the Lower Mainland three years ago – is enjoying the sunshine, he’s been more concerned with improving his times on the cycling track, which prompted the two-month trip to Melbourne.
“It was really good. I caught the end of their winter Carnival racing series, and was able to get in some really good training,” said Shankland, a sprint racer who specializes in the kilo (1,000-m) as part of both Cycling BC and the Canadian national development team.
“It was really big for me to be able to race with so many talented riders down there. I ended up doing a lot of endurance races, which was tough because it’s just not what I do, but it was great.
“Down there, even the Australian club-level riders are so good that they could medal at (Canadian) nationals tomorrow, so when you’re in that environment, it’s hard not to be motivated because if you don’t aren’t, you end up looking like a chump.”
After racing in both endurance races – which can be up to 35 minutes long – and sprints in Australia, Shankland said he has a new appreciation for just how tough the shorter events are.
“Most people probably think you just go as hard as you can for a kilometre and that’s that, but it’s really a battle with yourself – building the bike to a speed you know you can hold,” he explained.
“It really starts to hurt at about 600 metres, and when it’s all over, it’s not uncommon to see a rider make a run to a garbage can so he can throw up.
“It takes hours – sometimes days – before you feel right again.”
When he wasn’t competing in Carnival series races every few weeks, Shankland spent time training at the bike track in Melbourne, while also working part-time at a local bike shop.
Now back on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, and working again at Peninsula Cycles, Shankland is juggling work with training at the Burnaby Velodrome.
“That’s really the toughest thing – balancing your time. Well, that and finding funding.”
In September, Shankland will also race at national championships – an event he’s been at four previous times and won two medals in, a silver and bronze.
Still, even without the elusive gold medal, he’s aiming to peak earlier – in time for the Los Angeles Pan-Am trials.
“Realistically, you’re only at your absolute peak for a few weeks out of the year, so you kind of have to decide (what you want to focus on). Normally, I’d be resting right now, with nationals coming up, but I decided to train instead, and give this a shot,” he said.
Like most amateur athletes, Shankland is in need of funding to help finance his racing endeavours.
Any business or individual interested in helping can email Shankland at email@example.com