The past 6 months have been, without question, the wildest of my adult life. All of it was a lot - packing up my stuff and moving to Denver, school ramping up, work getting crazy - but the one thing that I’m sure will always make me giddy as I look back at this period was the ridiculous stuff I got to be a part of on the bike.
The 2021 season was intense - lots of racing up and down the east coast that netted me enough points for my category 2 upgrade. This meant that from 2022 forward, I’d have to enter the fastest field available in most races - Pro/1/2. On top of that, rumors of the high level of competition in the Colorado scene had me worried I’d be getting dropped off the back of the group all summer long.
Luckily, those nerves led to a good block of training over the winter and I was able to mix it up at this new level. No gloriously victorious moments, but just going wheel to wheel against this grade of rider taught me so much and (even more importantly) was almost too much fun. Seriously - ripping corners at 40mph, inches from disaster on a Sunday makes wasted time in a meeting on Monday all the more painful.
My first 1/2/3 race, and the season opener for most folks in VA, DC and MD. I told myself if I was able to hang on and finish with the lead group, I’d finally replace my tattered, dog-bitten shoes. After an hour of seemingly all of Kelly Benefits trying to rip our legs off, new shoes were on order.
This one was so much fun, and this time there’s video evidence. Incredible course, loud fans, great vibes - really had me questioning my resolve about moving to Colorado. This is the one where it really clicked that my racing was going to need to get smarter. No more covering moves when it should be a bigger team’s job. No more sitting on the front just because I’m feeling strong that day.
The craziest 4 week stretch of bikes of my life
- July 4: Firecracker 50 - a 50 mile mountain bike race in Breckenridge I’ve been wanting to do since I watched as a kid. Destroyed my rear wheel on a rock 20 miles in, so this one’s not quite checked off the bucket list yet, but still a pinch-myself moment.
- July 6: South Table Mountain Crit #5
- July 9: On a training ride out to Golden, got a text from an old friend asking if I wanted to go to a concert at Red Rocks that night, so I just extended my loop to meet him there. Incredible that was even an option, though I can’t say hard-soled bike cleats are the ideal Avett Brothers attire.
- July 10: Longmont Crit - Gavin Mannion showed up and lapped the field by himself, so my first race against a pro went about as I expected.
- July 12: Magnus Cort Nielsen from EF Education won the Tour de France stage in the morning, then his teammate showed up to Tuesday Night Thunder, the local race in Boulder that night. Didn’t get lapped this time.
- July 13: South Table Mountain Crit #6
- July 16: My first 100 miler in CO. Got rained on all the way home. Still fun.
- July 19: Tuesday Night Thunder
- July 20: South Table Mountain Crit #7 - Friend convinced me to do the Mt. Evans hillclimb in just a few days
- July 23: Mt. Evans Hillclimb - Didn’t expect my first 14er to be on a bike, but seems fitting. 6,900 feet of climbing up to the top of Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in America. Worst race result of my life, best views I’ve ever seen.
- July 26: Last Tuesday Night Thunder - Made an absurdly powerful breakaway with various local strong dudes and little ole me. Lapped the field, something I’ve never done before, and hung on to sprint for a solid top 10 finish. Hardest I’ve ever gone on a bike and boy was it worth it.
- July 27: South Table Mountain Crit #8
- Aug 3: South Table Mountain Crit #9 - Another great day in the breakaway helped by some absurd crosswinds across the mesa.
Truly a month for the books. Hoping for more of the same next year, with a few more big races thrown in (Tulsa, Intelligentsia, etc.)