Olympic cyclist Zach Bell, a native of Watson Lake who now calls North Vancouver home, may not have an Olympic medal hung around his neck, but he has no regrets.
In fact, when Bell, 26, looks back at his first Olympic experience from this past month, he finds reason to be pleased. He performed well, but still sees room for improvement.
“I feel good about it, I rode with a lot of maturity and came away with a reasonable result,” said Bell in an e-mail to the News.
“There may have been room for a bit better result but I am confident I performed within the realms of a level I am capable of, so that is satisfying.”
Bell finished seventh out of 25 riders in the points race August 16 and then took a 12th-place finish in the Madison August 19 with teammate Martin Gilbert.
In the points race, an event in which cyclists are awarded points for winning series of laps or for lapping the field, Bell accumulated 27 points, two on the second sprint, five on the 11th, and lapped his competition during the tail end of the race for 20.
However, Bell, a cyclist known more for his power than his stamina, did not get many chances to play to his strengths.
“I actually did not score any points using my power — the opportunity to do so just did not present itself,” explained Bell. “I have a lot of power but it takes a lot out of me when I use it … so the conservative strategy was designed to help me control the damage I inflict on myself with that power.
“It was encouraging to finish well using tools I would primarily classify as weaknesses in my game. Had the race unfolded in a different manner and I was able to use my power more, it may have been a better result.”
Not only was the Olympics an excellent endeavour for Bell, he is hoping his experience racing on such a grand scale will profit him in future competitions.
“I had no problems (with) big-race jitters except maybe two minutes before I went,” said Bell. “I slept well and I was confident in my plan and training.
“I hope to be able to carry this forward to more races so I can begin to perform with more consistency. I was just levelheaded and ready to race.”
Bell returned to Vancouver on Monday after spending six days sightseeing in China. Today, Bell will be heading to Burnaby, BC, to cycle in the Nationals.
Next month, getting away from the track for a bit, Bell will be heading south for a tour of Missouri, which will be followed by a trip home to the Yukon with his girlfriend and some friends for a canoe trip.
Before going to the Games, Bell spent some time training in Switzerland at the World Cycling Centre. During his time there at the world’s premier cycling facility, Bell achieved some personal bests. However, he did not place much stock in his performances there.
“The times in Switzerland were simple indicators of fitness and really have no comparison to the race as it is not a ‘timed’ event really,” said Bell. “They were good to help me understand how I could race, but beyond that they had little significance.”
“It was a positive (experience),” adds Bell, turning back to the Olympics. “The organization has been far and beyond what could have been expected; (there was) not one hitch or delay anywhere. The country has been a wonderful experience.”
An indication of how good an experience it was is that Bell is already planning a trip for London in 2012.
“I start training for 2012 mid to late October … Does that answer your question?” Bell wrote, inserting a sideways smiley face into his e-mail to lighten the tone.