*warning, a long read*
A little over a year has gone by since I decided I should probably get off my ass, and get moving again. And what year it had been.
I spent a lot of time outdoors, which really shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s known me for any length of time, as I always try and make my way into nature in some way.
But probably one of the most fun ways of getting back outdoors and enjoying it, was jumping back on the bike.
In April of last year, I jumped on a bike for the first time in nearly 7 years.
That first ride I did, was only 15 miles, and took me nearly 2 hours to do. It was basically down to Redmond and back, and made me feel like I wanted to die.
But it got me moving, and starting on that Saturday in April, I made cycling part of my weekly workout schedule.
So every Saturday, I would get on my Raleigh Misceo bike, and ride a little further each time, and each week I would get a little faster, a little lighter, and feel a little better.
Around the middle of June, I started to yearn to get back on the mountain bike, and I started looking at what it would take to revive my old Specialized I had sitting in storage.
The years had not been kind to it. In the decade prior, I had put a lot of time on that bike riding all around the Hood River Valley in Oregon. Pretty much every day it got used during the spring/summer/fall, and it needed some work.
Both hubs were shot, the bottom bracket was shot, headset was shot, basically anything that had bearings was gone, along with other miscellaneous bits and pieces.
In the end, it was decided to just buy a new bike, and so I added a Raleigh Talus 8 to my stable. And the Specialized was put back into storage in pieces for another day.
The Talus however, sat, for another month until it got used. It wasn’t until I posted a photo of the Specialized in pieces on Facebook, that my former WMRRA mentor, Mike Levenson , said I should put that sucker together and go mountain biking with him. I told him I had a bike ready, and that was that, we scheduled a time, and a place (Duthie) and I’d finally get to ride the Talus.
It was this that would lead to be the catalyst for events that followed. I would decide I wanted to try for Cross Country (XC) racing the following year, I would meet Kyle Watson of Mr. Crampy’s, I would get into cyclocross (CX), and I would eventually fall in love with the bike all over again.
After CX season ended, I had my mind on XC, and in January I started to get back out on to the trails with others from the Crampy Crew.
Getting back out, I was able to really start to focus on the area’s I needed help, and where I needed to ask for help. It was through this, I would become acquainted with Alex Luschen.
Alex helped me identify where and why I was having problems, and coached me on how to resolve them. She helped me with nutrition before, during and after, and helped me with identifying where and how I needed to ride through obstacles.
And within a couple weeks, my confidence in handling for race conditions had improved, and I felt ready to race, and on top of it all, I gained a new training partner for the season who would become one of my best friends and would introduce me to others who would become great friends in time.
And so the stage was set, and I raced the BuDu series. My first race, as I wrote about earlier this year went fantastic.
And the following races went well, and I placed within the top three every race for the rest of the series.
I missed the first race, but because the series was best 5 out of 7, and by race #5 in the series (4th for me), I only needed to place within the top 4 to place me in first overall.
In the end, I finished the series with three 1st place finishes three 2nd place finishes, and one 3rd place finish that would guarantee me a series championship for my category and age group, and all that done on a heavy Raleigh Talus 8 hard tail. A bike that was built for recreational purposes and definitely not for racing.
I’ve had people tell me “It’s not a big deal, it’s only a Cat 3 race”, but to me, it is a big deal.
A year earlier, I was fighting obesity, at nearly 300lbs, and making changes in my life to be more fit, more healthier, so I could enjoy the outdoors more. Now, I was top in my class, so to me, I was proud of my accomplishment. It meant to me, that I not only met my own goals, but exceeded them.
It has also given me new goals. It has allowed me to align what my own expectations are for the coming year. Where I want to be in CX, and how I want to perform next year in XC, as I move up and race in a new category, which will bring new competition, longer races, and hopefully new accomplishments.
And although one series is over with, the mountain biking season is just getting started here in the Northwest.
I’ve already completed the first of 3 Epic endurance races (30 mile), I hope to make it over to a couple of the Fat Tire XC races on the east side, and I completed my first Enduro race in Hood River, Oregon this past weekend.
There is a lot going on, and I hope to be able to budget in a little more racing before the season comes to an end and CX season begins.
There are a lot of people I need to thank, but most importantly I owe a huge thanks to Bryan Vrana, who has been my biggest “cheerleader” during this whole adventure.
Every step of the way last year, he’s been there to motivate me forward from the beginning, when I said “I’ve gotta make changes”.
A big thanks to Kyle and Mac with Mr. Crampy’s. Without them, I would never have had the support structure and acquaintances to help me train and get to where I needed to be. The Crampy Crew provided me with the structure needed to not only accomplish my goals, but surpass them, and I owe the whole crew a big thanks.
Alex, Andi, and Tom with the JLVelo Ambassadors, for all the coaching, advice, and encouragement at each of my races.
And again to Alex for being an amazing friend just being there each step of the way helping me become better at what I love, and cheering me on at every event.
Mike Levenson for obviously introducing me to Kyle and the crew.
And to all the other friends and my family who have given me words of encouragement. So many of you, so much thanks.
In a year, I have had many adventures, and I look forward to whatever adventures this next year will bring.