I must begin with the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic, and bounce around from there...
I had been intermittently following Travis' race during the last week of July. He was competing in the Trans Rockies Classic. It is a pretty gnarly mountain bike race in the Canadian Rockies. Consisting of seven stages over seven days through the rugged mountains with crazy elevation gains and descents, it's not for the faint of heart!
Being into triathlon the way I used to be, it was always inevitable my world would collide with Travis. For the first several years of my racing, I knew who he was, but that was about it. It wasn't until I was flying to Ontario to do a duathlon in my hometown of Wasaga Beach in September, 2007 that I really met him though.
Out on course along the beach.
Coming down the finishing chute and talking to a reporter after the race...
As per usual, I was the last one through the gate at our airport, and they gave me a tongue-lashing for it. (Nothing has changed...that happened when I went to Chicago this past June.) I was told I was lucky to get my bike on the plane because there was less than usual luggage that day, otherwise I'd be screwed.
I went into the waiting area, and sat down pretty much right beside Travis. He was flying to Las Vegas with Mike Seniuk for some kinda conference-y something.
I barely had my ass on the seat before Travis was lookin' at me with a huge fat grin, and saying something about my bike in the box, at which point we fell into conversation about racing.
At our layover in Calgary, the three of us had lunch, and carried on like we'd already known each other for quite some time. (Mike's cousin, Jackie, had been a really good friend of mine for years at that point, so we were instantly comfortable with each other.)
That was all it took! Just like that, Travis and I were instant great friends.
So, fast forward to this summer, 12 years later...
I had still yet to see Travis race in all that time. Yes, there is the thought that he mostly races far away, but even though I would consciously think about it, that was still never a good enough excuse for me to miss out on his bad-ass-ery!
In a kind of overreacting way, I had a mini little meltdown, and sorta snapped at myself for only being reduced to seeing his photos with written race updates and conclusions over the years. If I am being truthful, I actually started feeling like a pretty shitty friend for never having seen him race, especially considering how supportive he has been of me in all my triathlon endeavors for so many years. There are two instances that I take note of the most...
-The first was when he got sponsored to do the La Ruta race in Costa Rica in October, 2011. It was a crazy, crazy 4 day stage race. (Like the mini Tour de France of mountain biking.) While he was down charging that course, I was in Portland, Oregon for a half marathon, and then going to try for some sponsorship at the Adidas North American HQ. We were both messaging each other in total support...taking away from what each of us was doing to cheer on the other. (By the way...he grabbed the leader's jersey, and podium'd overall.)
-The second time that stands out was in late summer/early fall of 2015 when I did 31 triathlons under pretty grueling conditions. (All told, I bailed hard once, battled severe hypothermia in our freezing lake with no wetsuit for the back half, had many injuries, and then got hit by a car on my second last day.) On my final day, Travis came out with Caden (his two year old son) to watch me during my last swim. He was yelling at me out in the water from the park. If that wasn't enough, they got in his truck to follow me on my bike course...honking his horn and yelling and screaming out his window.
You see, Travis is the most solid of guys! I've even put it into writing before that, "it's almost sickening how good of a guy he is...just be at least a bit of a prick to give the rest of us a chance." (Haha...Something like that.)
As far as the triathlon meat grinder I have repeatedly thrown myself into, and all the crazy stuff I think up within that world, regardless if I am successful or not, Travis has always been 1000% supportive of me...quite actively and verbally. In a way, it kind of trips me out when he says what he has about me because he is a legit bad-ass.
Me, glued together with wraps and tape before the 2007 Nelson Triathlon.
Photo by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Travis is definitely a local legend around here, and the racing circuit he charges on. It would be quite a fitting nickname if one were to call him, "Mr. Podium!"
He charges insane races year after year, and after all of them, you see podium photos and stories pop up on his Facebook account. Then there is me, "Mr. Last Place, Nowhere Near the Leaders Guy," who Travis supports without restraint. (I mean, I'm not just last place, I'm last as fuck!) The two of us have always seemed to have a circular connection of mutual inspiration. We have both been quite vocal about it, to each other, and outward to the world.
Personally, I have never felt like I have earned, nor deserved that for myself, but with him, it is beyond undeniable how incredible he is. Plainly stated,
"Travis is a mountain shredding mutherfucker!"
I hang off the stuff he does. I love talking to him about all the different facets of what high level racing entails. (There's more to it than one would think.)
Truthfully, I feel very humbled in his presence, and all this stuff never leaves me when I'm in thought about him.
(He inevitably floats through my mind when I am out charging through unbearable pain, and those thoughts actually give me strength to transcend anything a course, or my broken body might throw at me.)
There's sooo many great things about the guy, but no matter what, I'm always dialed into Trav's racing life. Even if we are talking about things completely irrelevant to that, it is still automatic as something lingering on my mind! I'm never unaware of the levity of being around Mr. Podium!
(I don't own rights to any of these photos, so if you see this and one is yours, shoot me a message so I can happily give you credit.)
I'm not too sure when I started realizing this, (It has been for awhile now.), but every time I see more of his racing stories, photos, and results online, or talking with him about them in person, I've started to increasingly feel kind of shitty that he is always out to support me, but I had never been out to see him goin' for it. (Except when he would pass by my last-place-ass on the bike portion of the old Nelson triathlon many years ago.)
I haven't liked that feeling, and it has eaten at me somewhat. I've always kept that to myself, but it is there, and it is real that I have started feeling kinda shitty around him because of it.
(I can only imagine him reading this right now. Haha...suck on it Trav! Your impact is real!)
I had been on my own adventures all over the place this summer, so I had not seen him in quite awhile. Since he won the National Championships last summer, and was committed to going to the World's this summer, I had never lost sight of his journey. There's no way I could. He was always close to my thoughts!
I was at Travis and Tobi's place for dinner sometime either side of the Christmas holidays. He and I got carried away talking about the world's. When we were deep into that conversation, with the most conviction I have ever heard him speak, Travis leaned forward to look me right in the eye, and told me that he isn't going there to just race, he is going there to win.
"I WANT TO WIN!"
A total a freakin' bad-ass! What more can you really say?!
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.