(Evan Burtnik is a U23 with Juventus, currently training with Cycling Canada's Team RaceClean - formerly NextGen Men's Track Endurance team.)
Hello Juventus members,
Apparently there's been some interest in what I've been up to over the winter and what I'll be doing for racing in 2016. I'm usually not one to write blog posts because I feel there's always a bit of ego attached to them, but here's mine anyway.
After getting a taste of World Cups, I spent most of the winter in Oxnard, California, grinding out base miles with the NextGenMTE (Men's Track Endurance) group. I am getting ready for my first European campaign, and I'm pretty stoked to finally experience some real racing. I had a really quiet road season last year, so I'm not sure what to expect, nor am I sure of how I will stack up, especially in my first year as a U23. Hopefully I can be a useful cog on the team, and maybe get lucky and find myself in a breakaway I have no business being in, and somehow pull out a result. Who knows.
California was awesome; I had some great days and some miserable days, but definitely mostly good ones. The house that we were in got pretty crazy at times; at one point we had 11 people in the house and just not enough space, especially in the fridge! Training was hard, but that's to be expected and it's not bad considering we didn't have a day of rain, or a day below 20 C for all of February! Life can't be that hard when the most heated arguments in the house are over what coffee shop we go to on recovery days. For the nerds who are into power data, my biggest gain came in my 30 minute power which I increased by 20 watts compared to my best last summer.
Even with the great time I had in Cali, I was glad to be home and back to normal for a bit. But it's a little strange. What's "normal" for me has now turned into being on the road with my teammates. I now start counting down the days until I get to come home instead of counting down the days until my next trip. My friends at home are now those weird people I see every so often; and my teammates have filled that void. The stress of upcoming racing, and trying to keep the coaches happy is always there, so I try to switch off a bit when I'm at home. It only takes me a few days at home to get that itch again - to go back to ripping up the track in Milton, or grinding up the climbs in Malibu. I'm addicted.
I'm typing this I'm on my way home from from Vancouver, after racing 2 weekends of the infamous spring series they have. The last race on Sunday was definitely my best. I got in the day's breakaway of 6 riders which was pretty stacked with a couple pros, and a few other very strong guys. They thrashed me around pretty good until we got caught by H&R whose rider in the breakaway flatted, forcing them to chase us down. The last 40 km of the day were the coldest I've been since the 2014 Lake Louise stage of Banff Bike Festival. I had ditched most of my clothes after over heating in the breakaway; and then after getting caught, I froze my ass off in the rain at 3 degrees. There was only one reason I forced myself to finish that ridiculous, meaningless race: Chris Prendergast, who I was sharing a ride with, was up the road in the winning move with the keys to the car in his pocket!
That was my last time for a while repping Juventus kit in a race, because I'll be getting all my NextGen clothing when I get to Europe! A little bitter sweet after 9 years in Juventus colours. It didn't seem to matter what I was wearing though, Cycling BC still thought I was Mason and riding for Smart-Savvy, on the result sheet.
My European campaign officially begins March 20th, with our final preparation camp in the Spanish Sierra Nevada's for 10 days, and then we're at the Cycling Canada European outpost in Tielt-Winge, Belgium. I'm very excited for the opportunity to race for the NextGenMTE program and I'm incredibly grateful for all the support I've had along the way to get here. Hopefully I don't blow it!