Josh Telizyn sat on the start line of mountain bike racing at the Alberta Summer Games last month, only his second official race, nerves at an all-time high.
He was so nervous in fact— one of his coaches had an important tip.
“He told me I was in the wrong gear,” Telizyn recalled with a chuckle.
The advice was heeded smartly and it turned out well, as the young Fort St. John racer captured bronze in the cross-country event after the tip and the day before won silver in the eliminator event.
“In 600 metre sprint event (eliminator), at the start it was everyman for himself. We were all across the line, four of us. At the start line we didn’t have enough room to move our handle maybe half an inch,” said Telizyn about the final in which he needed to win three separate races to advance to.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had my heart pounding so hard before going into an event…coming into a monster race like this and making it into a final, that just blew my mind.”
In the cross country race, a 14 km total lap race, Telizyn found himself in trouble, starting with the wrong group of racers and then hitting a tree root on the first lap but still managed bronze in his age group.
“They started us by age group in waves, they would send the U17 boys out first then the U15 boys and U13 boys. Since I was new to that, I misunderstood and when they said go for the U17 boys I thought that was go for everybody,” he said.
“I crashed the first lap in… at race speed coming around the corner I managed to avoid getting lynched by the tree but then I ran into the root and went over my handle bars.”
Overall, the experience is one he will not soon forget.
“That just blew my mind,” Telizyn said of the two medals. “I thought I was going to get absolutely crushed out there… but then again I would have been O.K. with it because I came in knowing absolutely nothing about the sport.”