There are a lot of really great things about the bike community in and around my home town of St Louis. One of which has been the use of stlbiking and personal blogs to lay down some smack, describe our experiences, and see what others are up to.
It seems that lots of people are re-capping their seasons of racing in 2008, so I thought I'd take a minute and do the same. This past year has truly been incredible, my plans to race mountain bikes last spring and summer was pushed aside on account of having to deal with thyroid cancer stuff again and Maggie getting pregnant!
It was a rough summer, with virtually all of it being spent in Baltimore Maryland as a patient at Johns Hopkins (shit, that place is really amazing!). I think I only rode my bike 3x between May and September, because after a surgery in July my shoulder was all screwed up and I felt awful on a bike. So I decided to do some trail running instead.
School had begun again in August and I ran 3-5 days per week out in Cosmo park (Rhett's Run) and in Rockbridge. Looking back, it was a great way to get the fitness for cyclocross season. CX was something I was always attracted to because of the short and high-intensity efforts, running, and less need for endurance (which I don't have time to maintain or develop, so why bother).
Maggie gave birth to Cassidy at the beginning of October and we talked about how we wanted to spend our weekends for the rest of the fall with me being in school and her staying home. Trips back to St Louis to hang out in a park and be around bicycle racing seemed the perfect choice, as it gave us time to talk in the car and was a welcomed break from the seemingly incessant demands of medical school.
The first race of the year was at Jefferson Barracks. I entered with truly no expectations of myself at all. I hadn't raced a bike in almost 10 years (I was in college and 18 or 19 the last summer I spent racing a mountain bike). It turned out that the fitness I developed while running and the 13 years of commuting and riding for fun + a year of working as a bicycle messanger in Denver all syngergized. I ended up winning my first race! I'd never won anything before so I wasn't really sure what to do.
The rest of the season was just pure, hard, fun. I met a lot of really great people, made some friends and ran into some old friends...my old friend Eddy Klein who've I known since I was 15 was a part of one of the best parts of the cyclocross season...Team Seagal (http://teamseagal.blogspot.com/). Those guys epitomized why I'm psyched about racing my bike and why I now plan on maybe even doing some training for next year. If you've ever been cheered for or riden in a race with anyone from that team then you know that they have their head in the right place as far as compeition on a bike.
The racing season ended up well. The state chamopionships were the weekend of my 29th birthday and the weekend before finals of probably the hardest block of med school.
I showed up and had a great time but that was it as far as the race. The sunday race left me a bit confused as I'm still not sure if I signed up for the right category. I had been competitive in the B races all fall, so figured that the middle category of Cat 3 was the place to be, only to find myself up against guys that often place in the top 10 of the A race. That's one thing about bike racing that I still don't get. Is it our own job to decide when we are in the right or wrong category? What defines the right or wrong category anyway? Oh well, I'm glad I raced Cat 3 because I plan to do the same next year, although I'll probably race in the A race of the bubba series since I actually plan to ride my bike and train for next year.
Until then, I'll be in Columbia finishing off my 2nd year of med school and enjoying being a 1st year daddy! Oh yeah, that reminds me to write about how psyched I've been to join the Big Shark racing team: Ever since I was a kid I always thought that the Mesa and Big Shark shops were the best things ever. I could just tell that Mike and Russ did great things for cycling and really care about the people that work in and ride for their shops. The big shark team was something I knew about because my cousin Rory had worked in the shop and joined their racing team about a year ago and from what I knew about the team, it seemed a good fit for me. I haven't met many people at all on the team, but most of the riders seem to be in a pretty similar situation as me: it seems most have real jobs and families but they still find time to enjoy riding and racing their bike. After school ends in Columbia, we may end up moving back to St Louis so I really look forward to getting to know people not just on the Big Shark team but all over the St Louis cycling community.
For now, my current plan for riding next year includes:
1. a focus on training for cyclocross next year
2. racing in the single speed mountain bike class of the MWFTS (http://www.midwestfattireseries.com/)
3. a trip to durango for the SSWC mountain bike race in september
3. enjoying my new (used) road bike on the sweet country roads around Columbia and maybe a few time trial races, cus I suck at steady state stuff and need to get better!