When it comes to top finishes, Jamie Shankland admits he could use a few more finishes atop the podium.
“I hold a reputation in Canada for being the bridesmaids of all bridesmaids,” he said.
“I have taken more seconds in races than Nirvana has songs about heroin.”
Among his cycling colleagues, Shankland says his nickname is ‘Captain Silver’, although he is quick to point out he would rather have that moniker than ‘Captain Bronze.’
All kidding aside, Shankland is in Dieppe, N.B. this week for the 2012 Canadian cycling championships, which run Sept. 12 to 14.
The 29-year-old transplanted Ontarian will be racing in his fifth national championships as he looks for his first finish atop the podium at the event.
“I have won a lot of big races, but this is the one that has eluded me,” he admits.
His best ever finish at nationals was a silver medal a few years ago.
He came across track cycling about six years ago and hasn’t looked back.
“I grew up racing bikes,” Shankland said.
“I used to be a downhill racer but got into training on the track because some of my friends were doing it and ended up being asked to go to a few races,” he said.
“I took to it pretty quick.”
“Definitely the speed,” he said about what he enjoys about the sport.
“It is a very, very fast sport. Compared to road racing, especially, it is very quick.
“And the events are shorter; it is all about explosive power and acceleration.”
His knack for racing on the track prompted Shankland to leave Waterloo, Ont. to move west, settling first in White Rock, and now in Walnut Grove.
“I came out here to step up my training environment,” he said.
“At the time, there were a lot of national team athletes training out at the track (Velodrome) in Burnaby.”
Shankland won his first race after moving west and has continued to shine on the track ever since.
And a strong showing two weeks ago at the Cycling BC provincial track championships at the Greater Victoria Velodrome has Shankland confident going into nationals.
“More or less, I just needed to see that the lactic training was paying off,” he said about his expectations at provincials.
Shankland teamed up with Edward Reid and Alex Amiri to take top spot in the open men’s category. He followed that up with a silver medal in the kerian and a bronze in the match sprints.
He did say it was a little disappointing to get silver for the second year in a row — losing by a wheel length — and he said the bronze medal came as a result of him “turning his brain off” momentarily and then not being able to recover in the semifinals. That relegated him to the bronze medal race.
“It was a good lesson and one I will never forget,” Shankland promised.
At nationals, he will compete in four different events: the team sprint, which he will race as part of Cycling BC; match sprints; the keiran and the kilo.
The team sprint sees groups of three riders on opposite sides of the track. At the end of the first lap, each team’s leading rider pulls up, leaving the second rider to lead the lap. In the final lap, the second rider does the same, leaving the last rider to complete the final lap on their own.
The match sprint sees riders go head-to-head.
In the keiran, cyclists sprint for victory following a speed-controlled start. The riders must remain behind the pacer for a pre-determined number of laps, gradually gaining speed as they go. The pacer usually leaves the track with about 600 to 700 metres to go in the two-kilometre race.
The kilo is a one-kilometre time trial.
During race season, Shankland spends 15 to 18 hours a week training, plus once a week in the gym to focus on lifting weights to keep up his power.
He juggles his training with his job at Walnut Grove’s Velocity Cycles.
Following nationals, the focus will shift to hopefully another “working holiday” in Australia this winter.
Two years ago, he travelled to Australia, working part-time and then spending as many weekends as he could racing.
This is the short-term goal for Shankland.
“Long-term, I ride without a huge goal because it is kind of tough to be a cyclist in Canada and have aspirations of the top,” he said.
“My goal is just to race as long as I can as best as I can. And if I end up at the next level, training with the national team full-time, that’s great. If not, I am just happy to race.”
Shankland said if you had asked him when he was a teenager if he would still be racing more than 10 years later, he would have said no.
“Because at that point, I was still just having fun with it,” he said.