Friday, December 7, 2012

What a long strange journey it has been!

The 2012 race season has finally come to a close, and I cant say that I am not feeling the least bit sorry about it. My racing started in mid February, got rolling full bore by April, and never really slowed down until the season wrapped up on 12/2/2012. 60 road races, 3 mountain bike races, 2 UltraCross races, and 24 Cross races and the legs and body are good and tired. The last 3 months, I have been trying to hold on to what little fitness I had, but slowly and surely, it started slipping away. Guys that I could crush on the road, were not only passing me, they were actually lapping me towards the end. I went from Road Nemesis to Cross Victim in just 60 short days.

BUT, I can't say that the Cross season was a complete bust. I mean, I did win my third ABRA championship jersey and my first state championship title. The fact that we only ever raced against 1 other tandem, and we were soundly defeated, does not even begin to tarnish the luster of my new trophies. The season of memories that the tandem brought will never fade either. Easily the most fun I have ever had on a bike, ever.  You only have to compare the pictures taken over the season and do a side by side comparison of tandem photos and Master 40+ & Cat 3/4. Tandem is all smiles and riding by myself is all PainFaceBlog worthy. It hurts just as much to race the tandem, but is 10X's more fun.  Here is just a BRIEF comparison of photos from the races this season. Please check out Fred Jordan's awesome photography for even more examples!
I love how everyone is standing around, praying for the train wreck to happen!
Same day as above (Kickoff Cross) but there isn't a glimpse of fun on this face
Military Cross 2012
No smile, even with that long downhill coming up....
This was SKETCHY on the tandem, but probably the second most fun all season.

Same descent as above but not a trace of enjoyment!

Celebrating the coveted ABRA Championship Jerseys

State Championships and Silly String make for great fun!
(check out the front wheel! Even when we crash, it ends up being food related. TACO anyone?)

A huge thanks goes out to JR Petsko and Gina Desmond for putting on the whole series and allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful team of athletes. I was nervous last off season that I wasn't worthy of riding for such a strong organization and at times I felt like I let you down in the final stretch. I know there isn't pressure to perform, but I hope my early season results make up for my late season slump! Thanks and I look forward to next season.

Also, I want to thank Rick Plowman for helping live the dream and winning my third ABRA jersey in 18 months. I know that it took big kahonas to ride a tandem and put your safety in my hands. I owe you big time... oh wait, I did find a few pictures of you riding with your feet off the pedals, so I guess you owe me since I carried you to your first ABRA Jersey and State Medal. ;-)

I want to thank Dynamic Physical Therapy, for without out the support of such a great company, the team would have never got off the ground. I know we made an impression on people, no matter where we went this season. Overhearing competitors talk about the the "Big Blue Streak" when we would work together in our road races or how pro our team areas looked made me proud to be a part of your efforts.

Pathfinder of WV... what can I say. Wasn't always smooth, as I made a few rookie mistakes in the beginning, but you stuck behind me and made me feel welcome. Your staff saved the championship bacon on the eve of the final race weekend. Big shout out to your employees James Braswell and Sean Hilty for going the extra mile to get the REAR wheel to us at the 9th hour.... literally. Thanks to Sequoya Moore for hauling it up to the race. I owe a couple of 6 packs and a tank of gas to yinz. You guys did a fantastic job truing that rear wheel, I only wish I had sent the front wheel to you to check at the same time... Think you can change a few spokes and get her true??? Miracle workers if you do!

I would be remiss if I didn't appropriately thank Cannondale for getting behind us with some of the finest equipment in the world. I raced on both a Cannondale tandem and a CAADX cross bike this season. I wish I was as physically as strong and fast as the equipment you manufacture.  I can't wait to get my 2013 model bike, I just have to decide which one I want.

The best bikes in the world still need traction. Having a variety of Kenda tires to choose from made the job of tire selection a whole lot easier. Between the Kenda Kwickers, Small Block 8's, and Happy Mediums, we had all our bases covered. And only Kenda makes a tire tough enough to to take the torment of 500#'s of flesh pounding around on all the bumps and holes we found on the course. Thanks for making products that keep us safe and help put us on the podium!

One of the best cycling related products I have in my possession is my Luber Pen from ProGold Lubricants. I've never been a meticulous bike cleaner, and when I do clean the bikes, I tend to become over zealous with the lube. Thanks to that little pen, the lube goes exactly where you want it and you can apply as much or as little as you like. Problem is solved!  Also, the Pro Towel wipes, Bike Wash, and lube are now mainstays on my work bench. After 2 previous seasons filled with derailleur, chain, and bearing failures, I didn't suffer a single mechanical failure this entire year. Coincidence that this was the first year I used your products exclusively?? I think NOT!

One doesn't need to hang out with me for too long to know how much I love Honey Stinger Waffles. I eat them several times a week, even when I am not on the bike. Although they are all tasty, my favorite is the lemon flavor, and it is especially good with a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Without out their support, there is no way I would ever be able to pull off racing 3 races a day during the cross season. Having the best Energy Supplements money can buy, makes it doable and worthwhile.

Having only 3 kits to ride and race in all season, I admit I was more than a little bit concerned that they wouldn't hold up. But after 89 races and thousands of training miles, they are still going strong.  Since they are still in such great shape, I know that they will last me for several more years of training. I shouldn't have doubted JR when he said they were the best, he made me a true believer. I wish you made work attire that was as long lasting as your cycling gear. But I guess if I was a pro rider, technically they would be my work attire. I guess I have something to shoot for.  

Thanks to not having a mechanical all year, I didn't have to replace any broken parts, but you can be expecting an order very soon as it is time to start upgrading the worn out parts on all my bikes. I have heard nothing but great things about you from my teammates who have used  your services, and I know you will come through for me like you have for all the others.

mmmmm..... enough said?? If you're in Morgantown and you like great craft brewed beer, get yourself over to Morgatown Brewing. Of course, you are partly to blame for my continued success in the Clydesdale class at MTB races!  Keep up the good work as I stand no chance against all those vegans.

You know you are a sock snob when your run out of clean socks and are faced with wearing a pair of a different "performance" brand socks... if you dig through your laundry and do the sniff test and you opt for a pair of socks your raced in rather than wear a clean pair of "other socks" you know you really in love with a brand. True story, as I sit hear today, I am wearing a pair of Aspire 7" socks that still have mud on them from West Pennsylginia Cross this weekend.  Best sock I have ever owned. Now, do you make those things with a baby blue and white argyle weave???....

While I won't pretend I was a client this year, watching Brian DeCann, Jonathan Suite, and JR made me a believer in your programs. You will be enrolling a new "athlete" in the upcoming year, that is if you will have me. I hope you can make me as strong and fast as you have made my teammates. Thanks for helping them kick my butt all year long!

Mackenzie and Amber Ziviello

But most of all, I want to thank my cheering section, Amber and Mackenzie. Its nice to finally have people in my life who not only are willing to go to a race but actually want to go to the races because she can appreciate the fun that is involved with in the sport. Amber enjoyed the racing so much, she even suggested that we go to the North Park Month of Mud race to watch (I had a bum knee and didn't want to do any further damage). When I told her that we could do something she wanted since we had already spent the previous day at Military Cross, she said "Great, I want to go watch the race", so off we went. At this point she still refuses to consider even riding with me, but I am hoping with a little encouragement, she will one day hit the rail trail with me and my new best friend, Kenzie. The two of you made a tough period in my life easier and I am forever grateful to have you in mine. The last 3 months have been a roller coaster ride (and I'm not talking about course design) and you've helped keep things on an even keel. Thanks for everything! I love you both!