The Many Lives of Timothy Austen

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Austen has grown up and lived in Ottawa for his whole life so far – Photo provided by Timothy Austen 

When you think about sports, the more common sports, such as hockey, football, soccer, basketball, and baseball come to mind. And when you think of athletes, you think of them dedicating their whole life to one certain sport.

This is not the case for Timothy Austen.

Austen is heavily involved in the sport of cross-country skiing and in the sport of cycling.

“I’ve seen Tim grow as an athlete and person through his constant determination and passion towards his sport and studies. He always has a goal and a plan on how to reach that goal,” Team Ontario cyclist, Kassandra Kriarakis, said.

“As he’s accomplishing more, he becomes more confident, yet still humble, all at the same time, which is really quite inspiring,” she added.

 

Prior to becoming involved in cross-country skiing and cycling, Austen grew up in the Glebe neighborhood of Ottawa, Ontario, to a father who is a journalist at the New York Times, and a mother who works for the city of Ottawa as a planner.

The Glebe is a very close-knit community, so, growing up there, Austen experienced many special moments as a child.

“There was always lots of people out in the neighborhood,” Austen said.

“I went to the Glebe Community Centre as a kid, and then I worked there in high school and I continue to do some work there to this day… It’s just a lot of fun when you’re a kid here,” he added.

A lot of Austen’s memories are of the other children in the neighborhood, to the point that Austen has referred to the Glebe as a “kid’s paradise.”

“There’s always other kids to play with and you can play road hockey, you can play football, and you can play soccer” Austen said.

Growing up in the Glebe also meant there were a multitude of schools to go to. Mutchmor Public School, Glashan Public School, and Glebe Collegiate Institute are all in close proximity to Austen’s neighborhood, which made sense for him to attend those schools.

“It was good. I really liked working at the Community Centre while I was [in high school], I loved being part of the ski team and cross-country running team, and I made a lot of good friends that I’m still in touch with to this day,” Austen said about his time at Glebe Collegiate.

 

Like many young boys growing up in Canada, Austen had dreams of making the NHL, but when he got introduced to cross-country skiing and cycling, he focused more on those sports.

While at Glebe Collegiate, Austen was a member cross-country skiing team, and the most memorable times he has from the ski team, are the bus rides.

“And then I remember all the cross-country skiing buses, and the long bus ride home for my last one in grade 12, that was a good time,” Austen said.

Austen continued cycling throughout high school, following the influence of his family.

“I was one of the last people to learn how to ride a bike, a little uncoordinated as a kid, so I kind of learned how to ride a bike just a little bit later,” Austen said.

Although being an athlete comes with memorable moments many people will cherish throughout their lifetime, athlete lifestyles come with challenges and adversities.

In his cycling career, Austen has faced many challenges, one such prominent one being a concussion that he suffered in 2011.

Although the concussion came with many challenges in itself, such as having to take time off of school, one big challenge was having to stop cycling for a while.

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Austen’s cycling career has taken him to races in Europe throughout his teenage and early adult years – Photo provided by Timothy Austen 

“First month was pretty bad, and then I had to take a break at racing at a high level and took the first three months of the season off,” Austen said.

“Probably just being alone, not being around school and that good community that I talked about. Just having to hang out by yourself all the time,” he added.

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Austen riding in a race amidst the beautiful autumn colors – Photo provided by Timothy Austen 

Following the concussion, Austen focused more on cross country ski racing and less on cycling.

“I just wanted to ski a little bit more. A lot of my friends at that age were skiing, and there’s a little bit less transit,” Austen said.

After focusing on ski racing more intently, Austen switched his focus back on cycling more heavily in 2015, as he was now able to drive himself to the races, without having to rely on other people for transportation.

“Once you get a little bit older in cycling, the travel becomes more manageable, and more people move into the age categories, and you have a few more friends your age,” Austen said.

“I think another big factor after that was getting a university education. I don’t think you can ski at a high level and get a university education,” he added about cutting down on skiing.

The heavy focus on cycling since 2015 eventually led to Austen competing for Team Ontario, as well as taking part in the Canada Summer Games.

At a one-day kermesse in Baal, Belgium Austen ran into another challenge, fracturing his elbow while racing.

“I’d had a couple bad races in a row, and then I was racing that day. I took an unnecessary risk because I was getting dropped, and I was pretty frustrated with the way racing was going, so I took an unnecessary risk, and I crashed and fractured my elbow,” Austen said.

Austen recovered in time to take part in the Canada Summer Games, a highlight of Austen’s career.

“It was a once in a lifetime kind of thing, I got to go to multisport games, there were a lot of other sports there,” Austen said.

“So just going there and racing with guys who wouldn’t usually have been my teammate, getting all the swag and the gear and stuff, yeah, it was a good time,” he added.

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Austen has also had the chance to go and live out in Canmore, Alberta due to his cycling – Photo provided by Timothy Austen 

Despite cutting down on cycling now in order to focus on university, Austen continues to race as a club member of his team while supporting local racing. Tim loves cycling “just as much as ever,” but understands his prospects of making a living doing it are low.

 

Austen is currently taking Film Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. This is special for two reasons. The first reason is Carleton is also in close proximity to Austen’s childhood home, and the second reason is that his passion for watching movies ties into his cycling and skiing career.

Austen’s earliest memories from watching movies involves going for a ride or ski in the morning, and then coming back and watching movies in the basement with his father.

“I remember watching Star Wars in the basement after skiing, I’d watch all three of the movies back to back, the original Star Wars films back to back in the basement all afternoon,” Austen said.  “Always like that, always having something to do that’s a little calmer, because I spent a lot of time running around the neighborhood, but I was high energy and then I was low energy, so then I would want to have something a little calmer,” Austen said.

Austen then started to watch Netflix when he got back from rides after graduating high school (Law and Order was a particular favourite) because he’d be tired from cycling and the pressure of racing. Only riding a few hours, a day, he would be busy but would have a lot of free time as well. Netflix provided a good break mentally and physically from training

Eventually, Austen began delving more into classical films, he began by perusing the IMDB Top 250 list with plans to watch every movie on the list. He hasn’t watched every movie on there yet.

“The thing about the list, is that my watch list always grows. Of the top 20, I’ve seen all of them, of the top 30 I’m missing one, of the top 40 I’m missing two, of the top 50 I’m missing three, so in the top 100 I would say I’ve seen about 85-90 percent,” Austen said.

His growing list of movies on the IMDB Top 250, led to Austen creating his own Top 100 list just this past April while taking a break from studying for exams.

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A view of the first 47 movies on Austen’s Top 100 list – Document provided by Timothy Austen 

Austen also tries to watch at least a movie every day.

“I think it’s pretty important to always be watching movies as a film student, even if it’s not for class, so then when I have two classes, I’ve already seen two movies in a day. And then I try to watch another movie by myself every day if I can,” Austen said.

Despite films and movies being a big passion of his, Austen doesn’t think he has a favourite movie due to the fact he believes that every movie is good in its own way.

 

Aside from his passion for film studies, Austen is also very interested in journalism and photography like his father.

Last summer, when Austen was injured from cycling, he began volunteering for Carleton University’s newspaper, The Charlatan, due to the fact that he knew he would be going to school full-time in the fall.

So, following in his father’s footsteps of working at a student newspaper, and due to the experience he had in using his dad’s cameras, Austen began covering sports for The Charlatan, and then eventually began taking photos at Carleton Ravens games, which then led to him being sent down to Halifax, Nova Scotia this past March to cover the Ravens men’s basketball team at Nationals.

“I think photography and journalism are a nice break from cycling, because cycling tends to be very monocultural as does cross-country skiing. A lot of the people have very similar life experiences, and very similar backgrounds,” Austen said about what he enjoys about photography and journalism.

“I think what’s really fun in photography is whether it’s people at the paper, or people I meet at the games, you get to make a lot of new friends you wouldn’t make otherwise,” he added.

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Austen, (left), at the Carleton Ravens men’s basketball Nationals in Halifax – Photo by – Valerie Wutti 

Austen will have the chance to focus more on photography for the 2019-2020 publication year, as he is currently the new photo editor for The Charlatan.

Through out his life so far, Austen believes the moments he has been able to experience have helped him change into the person he is today.

“I think that when I was in my high school years and early university, and racing full time, I was a little bit crazier, a little bit more high energy, and I could definitely calm down to watch a movie,” Austen said.

“I think that over the last few years I’ve slowed down a little more, relaxed a little more, and gone a little more less high energy,” he added.

In some ways, Austen sees the pros and cons to this.

“In some ways it’s a negative, cause you’re a little slower, but in some ways it’s a positive because you’re a little more aware of what’s going on, your mind isn’t working as fast, and you’re able to think things through a little bit better,” Austen said.

But through all this change, Austen’s parents and brother have been major influences in his life.

“I think my dad is my best friend, and everything I’ve done, from cycling to photography to film, my dad has always been by my side, helping me out with it,” Austen said.

“No matter what it is, he’s always been down to help me with a project and all that, and I’m really lucky to have a dad as good as him and as nice as him, so always having my dad in my corner supporting me, and helping me out,” he added.

In terms of how his life’s journey has gone, and where it has taken him, Austen says that its been a crazy and good ride.

“It’s been a crazy ride. Skiing and cycling, and doing all that. But you never know where life will take you, and I didn’t think I’d be a photo editor in the fall this time last year, and that that’s what I was preparing for,” Austen said.

Even though Austen has noticed his own growth, his friends have also noticed his growth as a person.

“Tim is a really smooth person. I’ve never seen the guy mad at someone or something. Every time he starts something, he has to do it to the fullest. Cycling, skiing, and now journalism. His determination is also something I really admire in him,” fellow cyclist, Arnaud Cossette, said.

“He had some really hard times with his concussion and his injuries, but he always came back stronger than ever, he never gave up, and he’s one of the most resilient men I know,” he added.

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Austen has been an avid cyclist and cross-country skier since he first came in contact with the sports – Photo provided by Timothy Austen 

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