School of Cross European Adventure p/b FSA

Posted: 17 December 2013 in School of Cross European Adventure p/b FSA

As I sit here on the cramped plane ride over the Atlantic Ocean, headed into a sea of unknowns, I can’t help but think of all the various things that I have ability to do without having to head to work for 8 hrs a day 5 days a week. My plan: To become a professional Cyclist, or more specifically, a pro cyclocrosser.

You see, this is the beginning of my 2 year European journey. A journey that 3 years ago I never expected would even be a possibility and I owe all of it to one cold day in Edmonton 2.5 years ago at the Strathcona Wilderness Park (a popular park outside Edmonton, AB, Canada where cross country skiers enjoy the freshly groomed daily trails and cyclists train in the ‘off-season’. This is where I met my wife, Emily Lynes. She was in Edmonton completing her PHD at the University of Alberta, an avid cross country skier from Ottawa, was out skiing with her uncle. I had seen her out before, but never been introduced. Little did I know that our paths had crossed many times before at various sporting events, and bike races. She asked me out skiing on facebook, as she didn’t have a car and needed someone to drive her, and just over 2 years later, I asked her to marry me.

Proposal March 2013Answer March 2013

Where to go from here?

What would be the most mutually beneficial place to move for a young professional couple looking to gain experience in their respective careers; Myself splitting my time between my engineering career in the oil and gas industry as a piping designer, and the other half and main focus to an ever growing semi-pro cycling career and Emily researching in Cell Biology and wanting to specialize into the Neurology field?

Europe! Where else?

There are many reasons why we settled on Europe:

* Great opportunity for Emily to find a well paying Post-Doctoral job.

* Cost of living relative to income is much more manageable on one income.

* Give us one last Europe trip before we settle down and start a family.

* Would allow me to, for the first time in my cycling career, focus my attention to cycling as a profession without the need for a full time job to keep afloat and see where it can take me.

The later point being what I was most excited about. After we decided this, all other options were off the table, and the hunt for a job began. Took a while, but Emily found a post-doc in Tuebingen, Germany at the Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases. Then, the real planning started.

Where are we going to live, how do we get visas, what paperwork do we need, how do I learn German, etc…

Before this, the only second language I had any encounter with was French. Growing up in Canada, it’s mandatory to take French as a second language for a certain portion of your grade schooling. It was ok with teaching me some of the words, grammar, got me familiar with understanding the occasional sentence, but I had no clue how to actually converse with someone. After a gracious package came from a new friend in a similar situation with the move to Germany, I had the Pimsleur method of teaching ‘books on tape’ and off I went trying to learn everything I could. Unfortunately, I was still working, racing, and training at the time so the first lesson sunk in and the rest were postponed until a later date. I’m beginning to find that taking these lessons are good, but the easiest way to learn the language (from what I’ve been told anyways), is being in the country struggling through the words with a native speaker correcting you along the way. And from what I hear, the Germans will always correct you.

Now, to get back on track with the cycling part:

I am a cyclocrosser from Canada. I started racing in 2006 after I graduated from college and had my first summer off of full time Army work since I graduated High School. I got into the sport late as I was 21 at the time and with my sporting experience in downhill skiing, cycling as a hobby, and other various sports, I took to it quite quickly. My first race was in May on the road bike, and by the fall I had discovered cyclocross. Using old worn out parts from my road bike and a new cross frame, I was ready to race my first National Championships where I came 2nd as an Espoir (U-23) and made the selection to go to Worlds. At worlds I had my worst race ever, but from then on I was hooked. I proceeded to make the National Team again in my first year as an Elite and the following year after that. Given the state of cyclocross in Canada and with it not being an Olympic event, I had to pay for everything myself, and thankfully I had enough income to do so with my engineering job. Although I had to take some time off during the global recession in 2008/2009, I eventually returned after focusing on the road season with Team H&R BLOCK for a couple years in the lead up to the World Championships in Louisville, KY only to dislocate my shoulder in a training crash while in Belgium.

Finally I can Bunny Hop Barriers!  Only took me the entire 2010 season!

Finally I can Bunny Hop Barriers! Only took me the entire 2010 season!

Now I’m headed across the pond again to spend the winter cyclocross season in Belgium with the eventual move to Germany happening after the World Championships in Hoogerheide, NL in February.

* What will I do in Germany? Ride my bike and keep house for Emily.

* Who will I ride for in Germany? I don’t know yet, I think that might end up sorting itself out.

* What will I do in the summer time when I’m not racing cyclocross? I may race MTB’s, road, travel a bit, whatever will keep me fit and allow me to enjoy the culture and surroundings.

* What are my goals while I’m there?

o Learn German

o Experience the German/European culture

o Get to a point where I no longer have to spend money to race my bike (ie: become a professional cyclist)

With my latest results at the National Championships (2nd only to Geoff Kabush), I think I’m headed in the right direction…

Canadian National Cyclocross Championships 2013

Canadian National Cyclocross Championships 2013

Next up: The Belgian Holy week of cyclocross starting with GP De Ster in St. Niklaas

  1. Marcus says:

    Go get ’em Aaron!

  2. Darcy says:

    Viel Glück und viel Spaß. Ich wünsche Dir und Emily viel Erfolg.

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