Thursday, January 21, 2010

Riffing on JJ's NYR Post

JJ posted a while back about his resolution to "just be better". I've been thinking about that a bit lately as I have been watching from a distance another member (not founding, but member non-the-less) wonder about his future as and dedication to being a bike racer.

I've been getting better on a bike now for well over 30 years. As a kid I dreamed of racing bikes and in my mid teens I got my chance. I was lucky as there was a private school across the street from where I grew up (literally) that had a cycling team. I hung around enough and the coach asked me to ride with them a bit. As fate would have it I would break my leg very badly the next winter and by spring I was in need of some heavy rehab, and my cycling career began in earnest. I had a chance to race for two years with that team, and I got better each year. I had dreams of being great but then reality set in that being one of the top five junior riders in Maine didn't always translate into 7-11 having a contract waiting for you for your 18th birthday.

Still I got better. I raced on and off in college, a couple of incidents with cars that didn't share my enthusiasm for sharing the road tempered my desire to be a road rider. At the time I had had a mountain bike since '88, but didn't do much mountain biking, but being in Vermont in the early 90's I got a chance to ride that wave that was mountain bike fever, even landing a job at a great shop called Skirack. While my road riding languished a bit my mountain biking got better.

While working at Skirack I started getting a bit of a road itch again, and proform on bikes can make an itch a downright irritation that must be dealt with. So I picked up a Cannondale road bike and feel in love with the speed again. It was actually on a road ride (that involved a massive hail storm, a wrong turn that added 30+ miles to the ride, and a crash through a busy intersection that was very wet) that I made up my mind to call a girl to go out on a date with me. That date went very well, in fact I said to myself on that date that I would end up marrying that girl- and 16 years latter I still am married to her.

It was during that time that cycling had moved into not only a passion but part of my livlihood as well as a common theme between K and I. I talked her into buying her first mountain bike and into working at the Skirack as well. Soon she was railing around on a mountain bike with the same passion, and it wasn't long before I watched her take the most awful wreck I've had to watch while we were riding down the face of Jay Peak. She was pretty banged up, but survived. Soon she ended up with a road bike as well (those who live in North Conway may see it from time to time- a white Diamond Back with a Team Betty- Ride Like a Girl sticker on the top tube). But during this time my understanding of cycling and my appreciation for the history of the sport began to grow, and I guess in a way I got better.

Graduation, marriage, new jobs- soon I was running my own shop and was also the head wrench- I got a lot better at working on bikes.

Kids, house, another new job- soon I got good at squeezing in rides when I could and even got my hands dirty promoting events.

Another kid, another house, another new job- I got good at squeezing rides into even less time, and I got good a keeping our growing fleet of kids bikes and trailers working, and I even "owned" a bike race for awhile.

No more new kids, same house, another new job- I got bitten by the racing bug again. I found a new crew to ride with. Jay Challenge presented itself- I was back trying to be a racer again. Epic year of training, stories, and racing. I made some of the best friends I'll ever have- so I'm going with I was still getting better. Heck JJ and I even end up getting the opportunity to ride for Team Bikeman!

Still no more kids, and we still have the house, but now live in another house, and yet another new job- my infatuation with single speed and cyclocross has gotten to a point that I might require medication. I'm now in a place where I need to build trails to ride trails. I'm getting chances to expose kids to cycling, and remember that school that had a cycling team way back at the start of this? Well I work there now and am working on bringing a cycling team back in the coming years. So I'm still feeling like I'm getting better.

I guess my point is that we get better every year, as long as we get out and ride. We may not get faster, we may lose some technical skills, but all in all if we are riding we are getting better in some way. Now get out and ride.



Dennis said...


bluecolnago said...

great story. best of luck in the future :)