I own several Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) jerseys and bibs (and too many of them according to my wife Mary Lou). 

Too many? Or just enough?

I do make good use of them though as I typically wear a CTS kit when on the bike.

Chris prefers the new style, I kind of like this one better

So as a result, when I ride or attend a race people will often come up to me and ask either who my CTS coach is, if I am a CTS coach or if I have ever attended a CTS camp. I guess it is what you call brand recognition. After all, CTS has been around for over ten years now and they have trained a number of high profile world class athletes, including Lance Armstrong.  (PS: I am not a CTS coach but I am a CTS athlete and I have a few CTS camps under my belt.)

Not only does CTS offer coaching to endurance athletes but they also run several dozen training camp every year. Most of what they have to offer is on their website. I say “most of it” because one of the unique aspects of CTS which is not adverstised on their website is the bond that I have seen develop over time between CTS athletes and CTS coaches, and just as equally important, between CTS athletes. This is what I call the CTS community.

Last week end was a great week end to enjoy the CTS community. It was a (very) long week end in Canada in the financial markets: Canada Day on Friday and July 4th on Monday. My wife was in San Francisco with a friend, Alex and Gaby are at camp in N.Y. State until the 23rd and Emmanuelle is in Spain the whole month of July. So where was dad during the long week end?

I spent the last four days training in Colorado. I put in 19:22 hours of riding time, 639 TSS, used up 10,113 kj and climbed 22,280 feet – all between 6,035 feet and 12,095 feet of elevation. I was in Colorado Springs for two days and in Aspen for two days. While in Colorado Spring I went out on a seven hour ride with CTS coaches, including Jim Lehman and Adam Pulford with whom I ride each February in California. In Aspen, I had dinner and rode with CTS athlete Charlynn Maxwell Porter and her husband Bob. After watching my first Fourth of July fireworks I started packing and getting ready to return to my Montreal life. That gave me time to reflect on my life as a cyclist.

You see, I actually live two (very happy) lives: a local life up here in Canada and a more international, cyber-kinda life. My local life is all about family, friends and work. My international life is all about cycling. And I don’t mean cycling as in “pedaling on a bike”. I mean my life as a cyclist, sharing with other like minded people the ups and downs of training, the joys and disappointments of racing, the challenges of keeping a balance life as time crunched athletes, discussing our goals and ambitions, our latest bike trip and also going out for a ride together and “walking the talk”.

I went to Colorado with a friend from Montreal who is also one of my local riding buddies. After dinner with Charlynn and Bob on Sunday night my friend asked me if I sometimes wished that my wife was into cycling the same way I am. My first answer was: “Don’t you read my blog???” My second answer was: “Never.” Cycling, which I discovered when in my 40s – like so many people I know – is not something I would expect the people close to me to embrace the way I have. What is the foundation of strong family relationships, friendships or business partnerships does not need to be reconsidered as one picks up new hobbies, sports, activities or as someone’s priorities change overtime.  The challenge is to make it all fit while preserving what is already dear to your heart.

As I wrote in a previous post I do not understand people’s need for the ones close to them to have the same interests as them in life in order to be happy. Families members certainly are better off sharing values but interests in sports? Nah…

I do not need my family, my friends or my business partners to understand nor share my passion for training, riding, attacking, suffering and racing. These people play a vital role in my life but understanding how I can drive two hours to Jay Peak, VT to ride 100 miles in seven hours, climb 12,000 feet and then drive back home for two hours is not a requirement. It would be unreasonable for me to expect them to get any enjoyment from a discussion about chronic training load, watts per kilo or the new Trek Madone 6.9.

This is what I recently wrote:

 “I often hear young people – including my own kids – and also some of my friends say: “I wish so and so would like to do the same things I like doing”, mostly referring to close ones.

I can’t relate to that. I don’t need my wife to understand my passion for climbing steep hills just as I don’t need my business partners to share my passion for big families.

My wife likes Oprah, I like Limbaugh. I like cycling, she likes reading. I like double black ski runs, she likes green and blue runs. What we share are values and common aspirations for our six kids. We are very respectful of each other’s priorities.

And, as long as my business partners and I continue share a passion for making money and ethical business practices we will continue to get along just fine no matter how they feel about cycling.”

So how do I do it? How do I fit in family, friends, work and cycling?

I apply the compartmentalization theory.

And this is where the CTS community comes into play.

Part II coming up very soon, stay tuned.