Reg Cisilino returned from the 55+ BC Games, held in Kelowna from September 10 to 14, with three bronze medals in the age 80 to 84 men’s age category, ending his final year of competitive cycling on a high note.
“The first 55+ Games I went to were in Kelowna,” said Cisilino. “It felt right that my last ones were there, too.”
The first two events were on courses Cisilino had run 19 years earlier, although he remembers them differently.
“I did [Knox Mountain] as the hill climb in Kelowna in 2000, but I don’t remember it being so tough,” he said.
Cisilino finished the 15-kilometre time trial in 34:59 on Thursday, September 12, and the three-kilometre hill climb in 13:39 on Friday, September 13, earning two bronze medals.
He had planned to be well rested for the last event, the 40-kilometre road race on Saturday, September 14.
“I wanted to get to bed early, but when I was checking over my bike, the front tire was flat,” he said. “I couldn’t find the leak by myself; the lady I was staying with came out to help me, and it was right by the valve. I replaced the tube and then the tire was fine.
“Then I woke up at midnight, and knew something wasn’t right. I went to the bathroom and passed a kidney stone. There it was, one o’clock in the morning, and I needed to be ready to race at 9:30.”
Cisilino took two Tylenol and tried to get some sleep. In the morning, he said he was tired and had no energy.
“But I said to myself, ‘I’ve been preparing for a year, so I’m going to do it, even if I come in dead last,’” he added. “We started the race and I stayed with a gentleman for a while, then got in front to give him a break, but later when I looked back, he wasn’t there anymore. I caught up to the guy in front of me, and when we were on the last lap, he turned to me and said, ‘I can’t do it anymore, you go for it.’ I passed him, and that’s how I crossed the finish line.”
Cisilino completed the 40-kilometre course in 1:46:21 for a third bronze medal.
Before competing, Cisilino dedicated his last three races to his late friend Harry Thompson, who encouraged Cisilino to enter competitive cycling. Thompson was a school principal who took up track and field at age 62 and competed well into his 90s.
“During the road race, I said a little prayer,” said Cisilino. “I said: ‘Harry, I know you’re keeping one eye on me, please, keep both eyes on me, I need it.’ I don’t know if he saw me from up there, maybe I got some of his help, but I finished.”
Cisilino’s competitive career may be over, but he has advice for younger people.
“I never thought to compete, but I liked a good bike ride. Now I’ve been competing for about 20 years. You need to believe in yourself, and then you need to try it.”