Travis Sa­muel

Mix­ing a ded­i­ca­tion to road rac­ing with a Zen-like out­look

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - Q & A -

Travis Sa­muel is im­prov­ing. He feels an over­all win in a stage race is be­com­ing more of a pos­si­bil­ity. Early this year, he was 12th in the fi­nal clas­si­fi­ca­tion at the Red­lands Bi­cy­cle Clas­sic and fifth at Grand Prix Cy­cliste de Sague­nay. As he con­tin­ues with H&R Block Pro Cy­cling for a third sea­son, com­pe­ti­tion in Europe – where he lived and raced for a stint in 2014 – and Asia are in the works. Here he dis­cusses new skills, mo­ti­va­tion and a se­cret men­tor. What’s one thing you’re do­ing dif­fer­ently at races this year? As an un­der-23 rider, some­times you don’t re­ally think with your head dur­ing a race. You get re­ally anx­ious and burn matches here and there when you should have been sav­ing them. This year, I’ve been re­ally aware of where I spend my matches. It seems like things have been com­ing to­gether.

Your prepa­ra­tion for this year was a lit­tle un­con­ven­tional. It was my first year of univer­sity. I’m go­ing to Trent Univer­sity, tak­ing a joint ma­jor in busi­ness and eco­nomics. I’m full-time: I did nine classes. Plus, I man­aged the kitchen at the Ceilie, the on-cam­pus bar.

Some peo­ple were say­ing, “Your cy­cling is done. You’re go­ing to school and you’re manag­ing a pub and you’re go­ing to try to train? There’s no way you’re go­ing to be ready.” It re­ally made me plan ahead. If I had two hours in the morn­ing, I’d make the most of those two hours. If I came home at 10 p.m., I’d ride un­til mid­night.

I had a re­ally strong win­ter. I took two 10-day trips, one to Cal­i­for­nia and one to North Carolina. I got huge base miles there. Then I did in­ten­sity on the trainer.

What’s been one of your best rides this sea­son? One of the best race days would be the Sun­set road race, the last stage of Red­lands. It’s fa­mous in North Amer­ica and al­ways hard. It was sweet to make the front group. Un­for­tu­nately, I got a flat with 2 km to go. I was fight­ing for a podium, but fin­ished 16th and 12th over­all.

What is some­thing you have im­proved upon? This win­ter I got a moun­tain bike. It’s the first win­ter I got to rip on the trails. There was a lot of learn­ing and crash­ing. I wish I had picked up a moun­tain bike a few years ago. I think ev­ery­one needs to im­prove on the tech­ni­cal side. For me, it helped at Win­ston-salem, which is pretty tech­ni­cal: all down­town with 15 turns on the roughly 10-km cir­cuit. You go up and down, and left and right. There’s road fur­ni­ture, too, so hav­ing good tech­ni­cal skills gives you an ad­van­tage.

Wheelie or skid? I’d like to be able to do a wheelie. I think that’s way bet­ter than a skid, but I can only do a skid.

What time of year is your en­thu­si­asm for rac­ing at its high­est? Prob­a­bly spring.

And at its low­est? Def­i­nitely at the end of the year. When you hit the end of Au­gust or the start of Septem­ber, you’re al­ways strug­gling for some mo­ti­va­tion.

I un­der­stand you have a se­cret men­tor on an­other team. Ryan Roth and I were team­mates on Jet Fuel for about half a year. We’re friends, but prob­a­bly don’t talk as much as we should. I think he knows that at some races, I just fol­low him around. He’s so good at sag­ging on climbs or be­ing chill when you need to be. He also knows when to be at the back or at the front.

Is there any­thing about bike rac­ing that you find frus­trat­ing? Not too much. I’ve ac­tu­ally been try­ing to en­joy it as much as I can. I’ve re­al­ized that this is not the life­style I’m go­ing to be able to live for the rest of my life. So, I want to en­joy ev­ery mo­ment, even if it’s frus­trat­ing, like a 14-hour car ride af­ter a race. I think a lot of guys nit­pick a lot of things. A big goal for me is not to nit­pick and go with flow. What­ever hap­pens, hap­pens. I’m just go­ing to en­joy rid­ing and bike rac­ing.— MP

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