Time for some honest retrospect, not only for you but me too. Cycling for me has changed. When I lived in Bloomington I was introduced to cycling. I met some of the best people I’ve ran across in my life. When my family and I decided it was the right move for us to move to Dallas Texas we knew that change was a part of that decision but I didn’t know how that change would actually play out beyond planning and furthermore, I didn’t know how it would impact me.
At 33, I’m settling into the person I think I am. I’m finding what is important to me, what isn’t and still trying to learn how to balance life. I guess a little change like moving away from friends and across the country led to more time being introspective.
Why I ride is the biggest change I think.
When I first started riding, I rode for exercise.
Pretty quickly I found a great friend at a local mountain biking weekly ride. Little did I know how much that random life encounter would influence the next ten years. Randy, you’re an amazing friend. I started riding in weekly group rides not really for exercise but more to hang out with chill people with zero hidden motives, no stress, and great experiences.
I was riding to spend time with new friends.
That snowballed into meeting more great local cyclist. I was exposed to different circles of cyclist. Some commuted to work for an escape from everything else, some commuted to work because it was their transportation. Some people were avid members of the local mountain biking club – CORBA who were working to further grow awareness and fun times. Some people were focused on bicycle racing. I was discovering a cycling community made up of many parts that added up to something rad.
I met Scott and Caryn from Bloomington Cycle & Fitness around this time. They built a shop and a culture that means a great deal to me and many others. Something genuinely special. Wanting to spend time around the shop and the people who raced for Bloomington Cycle lead me to a path of gradually getting into racing. It was around this time I broke my neck on what can only be described as foolish moment of building and trying to ride a mountain bike obstacle I had zero business trying to build or ride. When I was recovering for a full season I watched my friends on the race team seeing success and I wanted to prove to myself my fastest days were still ahead of me. I caught the bug to put in a serious year of riding and racing with the goal of being on the podium at the end of the Illinois category two mountain bike racing series.
I was riding to prove to myself I was still capable, see what I could accomplish, and spend time with great people.
I’m a mediocre amateur racer at best but I had a lot of fun and had some local success in the “I’m serious about racing but not for real serious about racing” category. Also known as “I’ll shave my legs but I’m not doing intervals every morning before work”. All good fun. I enjoyed these years. After winning Illinois’s category two mountain bike series I was full of smiles. I was also a little nervous about what was next. The following year I moved up to category one mountain bike racing. I put in more training than ever before and the results I found were both what I expected and also surprising. I knew I wasn’t going to do anything close to winning but I wasn’t expecting the majority of the season to be riding solo in the woods for long races. A result of small but very dedicated fields in category one at the time I think. I don’t want to take anything away from them. I wish I was that fast. Kudos.
I wasn’t finding what I wanted out of riding, at least in the mountain biking I was doing. During a trip to cheer on the roadies that raced for Bloomington Cycle in a Chicago crit I found myself really interested in the tactics and how different it was from all of the racing I’d done before that. I was hooked. Mountain bike racing, at least how I experienced it isn’t a team sport. While racing in the woods, it’s you versus everyone including yourself. Racing crits was a team sport. Success could be measured in so many more ways than just crossing the finish line first. I wanted to help teammates with leading them out, chasing down breaks, and more.
I was riding to play a role in team objective and enjoying something new.
I had a lot of fun racing crits. It was the most exciting racing I’ve ever done from the combination of beautiful chaos and team tactics aspect. Something happens every lap, every turn. Watching attacks, positioning, planning, making bets with matches in your legs and learning from positive and failed outcomes. The downside to crits for me was hearing that horrible sound bikes flipping and sliding on the road at speed. People all looking out for themselves and hoping their time wasn’t up. It felt like a matter of time before your number was up.
And them my number came up. It wasn’t fun but I’m alright. I still over worry about every time I think I feel a tire going flat. That happens about every half hour of riding on the road still.
Shortly after my family and I decided to move to Dallas Texas for many reasons including a work opportunity.
Since moving to Dallas I find myself riding for fitness again, a way to stay active and get out of my head.
Feels like I’ve come full circle in a way.
So, How Does A Changing Reason For Riding Effect Me?
I’m learning how to be honest with myself about all of this. Not racing this year has resulted in benefits and negatives. I’m spending more time with my awesome wife and daughter. That’s been a huge benefit.
The downside largely has been feeling guilty for not being in the shape I’ve been in from previous years. I’m learning to be honest that this is the reality of my current cycle in life and it’s alright. I don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed.
I have been enjoying a weekly group ride on the road and Northshore mountain bike trails.
Some of those feelings of unsure how to feel about my lack of race fitness were the catalyst for the lack of blogging in the past months.
What’s the latest?
This week my family and I drove up to Bloomington Illinois to get our dog an operation after she tore her ACL. She’s recovering pretty well after the surgery so far.
I also brought my Tarmac to catch a long overdue ride with some great friends. It was something that was good for my soul. I missed these people and these roads, although they feel narrower than I remember :)
Thanks for reading a rather long post from me. I hope you’re having a great holiday weekend!
P.S. I miss #RATG How are you? :)
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