Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year in Review - A year of a few firsts and many thirds

This year started off the same year as every other has, at Rays Mountain Bike park in Cleaveland, Ohio.  Only 10 days after I fractured my wrist(hairline) and separated my shoulder there, I returned with my dad and friends for the annual Rays MTB trip. It was a little rough riding with a brace on my wrist and my shoulder in some pain, but I made it through and it was a great time.  The day at Rays always ends at the Cici’s Pizza Buffet, a place where my exhaustion causes extreme amounts of laughter at the most ordinary things. My friends and I stuff ourselves with food and then sleep the whole way home.
Me: struggling to breath and crying of laughter. What is wrong with me?
This year was my first year of training, which sucks. Throughout the winter i spend countless hours on the trainer doing intervals of all sorts. But I just kept telling myself it would pay off when the season came around and I was fast. Spring eventually came and I was able to do my workouts outside and sanity was restored.

The beautiful view for winter

My first race as a member of the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team Powered by Pathfinder was the the Mountaineer Classic criterium in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Well, it was actually the Tour of Battenkill but that was terrible so we can just pretend that never happened. I won the Mountaineer Classic with the help of my great teammates; this was a great start to the season.

First race and first win on the team
It was four months between the Mountaineer Classic and USAC Mountain Bike National Championships, at Bear Creek Resort in Pennsylvania. Boy did those four months fly. Before I knew it I was on the start line at Nationals and all my training was about to pay off. I took third place here and that was more than enough to make me happy. If you haven’t already read about my nationals experience, I wrote a blog on that a few months ago.

You might think people at nationals are classy enough to wear full kits on the podium, but no.
After Nationals I pretty much stopped training so that I could have some more free time to relax for what little was left of my summer. I wasn’t done racing though. Around the middle of August I was racing the Cat 2 race at the Windham World Cup. I got third here as well, again, more than enough to make me happy. If you wish to read more about the Windham WC, I wrote a blog about it a few months ago as well. After Windham the only big race I had left was the Appalachia Visited Road Race in Rowlesburg, West Virginia. This race didn’t go too well either, I got dropped about halfway through and rode the rest of it pretty much alone, I don’t really like hilly road races.

Windham Podium

After Windham and Appalachia Visited, just about the only races I had left were the Month of Mud races and the ABRA cyclocross races. The MoM Series went well, but nothing super noteworthy happened. Pretty much just normal mountain bike races. Cyclocross, however, was very noteworthy. I had never raced cyclocross before so it was a new experience for me, and a good one! My first cross race was the Franklin Cyclocross race. Conditions were perfect here: sunny, dry, and fast — my favorite. I got 10th place here. My second cyclocross race was Marilla Park Cyclocross, where conditions were dark and muddy — my least favorite. It’s not that I don’t like mud, it’s just that I like to go fast and mud is not fast. I got 10th place again here, so I was being consistent. My last cyclocross race and also my last race of the season was the White Park Cyclocross race. Conditions here were awesome again: super dry and super fast. The great conditions as well as my greater experience at cyclocross now that I had 2 races under my belt contributed to my first podium finish in a CX race. Another third place! Is anybody else seeing this trend?

First CX Podium
Sometime soon after white park I got my first car. A blue Subaru Legacy GT Wagon with a 5 speed. This car is perfect! It’s quick, stealthy, somewhat uncommon, and I can fit my bike in the back no problem. It has a few problems but nothing that a little TLC and elbow grease can’t fix.
A pic I took after a ride at north Park

Artsy pic of my new car
After White Park CX I actually had no races left but I still rode every once and a while. A 50ish mile road ride with teammates Jim and Ej. A few mountain bike rides here and there. And most notably, JR’s Birthday ride. The best part of this ride, other than that it was JR’s birthday, was that after the 45 miles of up and down, I was able to justify eating pounds of food. The worst part of this ride was the saddle sores. But thanks to my teammates and their wonderful advice on how to soothe the saddle sores, I was walking normal again in about 48 hours.

Mini team ride
Now it’s December 31st, 2014. The year is coming to an end rather quickly and as much as I like going fast, I really wish time would slow down. Maybe this year I’ll go slow and take in the surroundings. On second thought, I won’t do that; going fast is too much fun.

Thanks to all the sponsors that make this great team possible. Nalini for some great kits. Swiftwick for the best socks in existence. ProGold for the best cleaners and lubes. Pathfinder for having everything I could ever need for my bicycle. And of course Kenda for the BEST tires EVER!

Most importantly, thanks each and every teammate who has made this year a great one. I can't wait to see what fun 2015 brings! Happy New Year, everybody!

Such a jolly team