I get to race a nice bike at cool places thanks to these guys:

Friday, August 17, 2012

One, Two, Skip a Few

...99-One Hundred. I've been a little bit busy with curricular the past few weeks, which has kept me off of my blogger account, but I've found a small window of time this Friday morning to sip on some coffee and recount my bike riding through a keyboard.

A few weeks ago I raced out in West Virginia at Jay Moglia and NCVC's Lost River Classic Road Race, a semi-epic hill-burner held in the towering hills that sprinkle the mountainous ridgelines traversing the town of Mathias. I was pleased to see fairly full fields in most of the races, as this event was at its third year and really needed to break even with solid registration numbers in order to ensure future editions. I was also pleased to see my teammate Bruno Neto turn out to race.

 Bruno is around my age and was racing against me as a 4 when I first started racing. The first race I really traveled to was the Altoona Stage Race, and I vividly remember hanging around Bruno and Nate Wilson in the parking lots, as they were friendly and familiar faces. This year, Bruno has been riding like a beast, but he's been having trouble finding time to attend races. When I found out he was doing Lost River, I was happy to sign up myself and slog it out in the hills in hopes that I could help him in some way, shape, or form..

Me setting up the ole' one-two

While the end results of Lost River were not super fruitful, Bruno did land himself in the initial dangerous breakaway and got to ride his own race. As for myself, I made it a lap further with the field than I did last year, and was only pulled with 1 to go.

 Races like Lost River are more of 'completion challenges' to me: I go to experience a different type of race, and also to humbly accept the will of the climbers, as they spend much of the spring time on the opposite end of the totem pole dealing with guys like me dishing out the hurt on the flatter terrains. To not show up and accept my own beatings, and more importantly, not experience and support a GREAT race course, would not fit the archetype of a sportsman.

 More recently, I raced at the Millersburg Stage Race, but that report is worthy of its own entry.  Right now, I'm mostly focused on my season's end.  With the last MABRA series races occurring this weekend, I find myself with a plane ticket to the Gulf of Mexico in my hand.  I leave today.  Bike racing is certainly not over for me this year: I will be racing the Mayor's Cup in Boston again, and I'm leaning towards participating at Iron Cross.

I'm amazed that I've been 'on' for the entire season and never got tired of it.  I accomplished a lot personally (whether or not I intended to), and I think I've helped my teammates accomplish some personal goals of their own.  It is only fitting that I once again express my sincere thanks and appreciation to not only my teammates, who rallied around me to send me to the Nature Valley Grand Prix and were instrumental in my victory at the All American Road Race, but also to my team sponsors.  The folks at Bike Doctor made it EASY to keep myself and my teammates rolling all season long with proper equipment, fast repairs (we took a few spills!), and how about our SWEET Caad 10s?

Elite Endurance was the final component in a 'perfect storm' of aspirations, expectations, and mutual motivation in the Bike Doctor Racing Team's continued ascent this year.  A lot of the guys trained under Elite Endurance, and, shocker, a lot of guys had awesome years.  Another Shocker: I'm working with Elite Endurance now, after I realized at Nature Valley that 'I have no idea what I'm doing.'

DigiSource (the logo on our side panel) threw in to the pot to complete the picture.  Aside from providing support to the team, they are my employer, and deal with my bike racing 'problem' with grace and generosity.  Also, I get to take my mind off of bikes for 8 hours a day and play with high end computer equipment.  Legal-types in D.C. be aware: we have the equivalent of a P5 with 808 Firecrests for E Discovery equipment and services.  I've been upgrading the speed of more than just my pedal stroke this year!

Finally, I've been helped out at races by Igda, Emir, Kat, and Katie G.  Most importantly, though, my wife, who deals with me missing half of our 'visitation time' that I blow up by attending all of these events and racing with the team.

Coffee's done, and I've got to get back to work.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cycling is too Win-Centric

This is a topic I've been spouting off with my buddies for some time now. Road Cycling puts far too much weight on achieving 1st place. Why am I on this thought? Let's start here: it is late in the season, and I'm seeing race registrations on many categories boil down to a few 'core' riders, and riders who SPECIALIZE on the type of course being raced on the day. If you put that in contrast to spring and early summer-time races, you will see a huge difference; full fields, chock full of racers who might not have a great shot at placing high. Here is where I am disappointing in my fellow roadies: so many get tired of being beat in the early season, that when the days are dog hot and the courses are dominated by little birdie-sized men, a good chunk of the spring-bloomers decide to stop showing up for races. I'm sure there are plenty of logical reasons for shutting down the race schedule (financial/time/too many weekends spent riding bikes), but I can't help but think that there is a mental attrition going on. Just how many times do you expect you can drive for hours, ride your heat out, and get STOMPED on by faster guys/gals? I had a heated discussion with a family member about my attendance at races where I have absolutely zero chance at doing well, and a low chance of even finishing the distance. "Why would you waste your time? Why would you waste your energy? I don't know any dogs who are good cats." My answer was immediate. I didn't even have to think. Just as I love the thrill of making a winning break, or surprising people in a sprint, I get a huge amount of satisfaction in the PERSONAL achievement in finishing or even contesting a race that is massively difficult for me. I feel like being a no-show to the difficult summer races we have on our calendar would not only hurt our local race promoters' bank accounts, but I'd also feel like a kid who started getting beat in a game of HORSE and runs home, taking the ball with him. Being an athlete means working hard and striving for success, but it also means TAKING YOUR ASS KICKINGS, AND TAKING THEM WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT FOR THOSE WHO SERVED YOU THAT SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE. With the attitude of so many cycle racers, I'm not sure if other people notice when I'm out there trying in total futility, but still giving it my all, but I'd like to think there are some. I, for one, definitely notice you if you are gutting it out like I do at so many of these shindigs. At the end of the day, winning a bike race won't get you any more QUALITY friends or TRUE respect than being DFL, but riding your heart out, and going until the officials pull you from the course, kicking and screaming to be allowed to complete another lap. In short, I do the bike racing thing to COMPETE, not WIN. Winning is fun, awesome, thrilling, etc, but the thrill never sticks with me for very long. In my first year of racing, I won a bunch of races, usually on Sunday (because I had to work Saturdays). By Tuesday afternoon (the time of my local group ride), the satisfaction from the win was gone, and I was already antsy about re-proving myself at the next race, or looking towards another challenge.