Thursday, December 04, 2014

Looking Back

Given that it is throwback Thursday, some reflection seems appropriate. It amazes me how far we have come and how fortunate we are. We live in one of the best areas in the whole world for cycling and bicycle racing. We have one of the best cycling related communities anywhere on the planet. We have countless public parks and conservation lands in which to ride our bikes as well as endless rural roadways just a stones throw from the major metropolitan area. We also have literally, the choice of more races than any one person could possibly do.

Not a trail ride, that's Cathy at Canton 2006
Blessed are we, those who love the bicycle and the lifestyle that goes with it. We, I, often lose sight of this, submerged in our own goals and aspirations. We introvert and focus on training plans and doing the workouts the we believe, or hope, will help us to achieve whatever lofty or elusive goal we currently have dangling in front of us.

It is a shame really, that we so often forget to take the time to just play bikes, to use a term coined by some friends. For most of us, that is what we are doing, right, as it isn't a job. We are just out there having fun and playing, on our bicycles.

I miss the group rides that used to happen almost every day. I miss not having to worry about what kind of ride I did Thursday or Friday so as not to jeopardize the race on Saturday. Don't get me wrong, I love racing bikes as well; wouldn't do it if I didn't. Partially though, I love the people, the crowds of friends that we only seem to connect with at the races. At the close of every race season there is always a sadness that it is over.

This is the 9th season in a row that we have raced bicycles. We raced previously back in the 90's but that was MTB almost exclusively and no where near the extent to which we race now. We've met so many great people and have done so many things. There have been literally hundreds and hundreds of times that we have donned a number and lined up to race. Looks like I've currently got 220 CX races in since 2006.

2006 M35-39 Nationals (look who is in background)
I'd put together a Redline Conquest cyclocross bike earlier to explore trails on and on one wet NEBC Saturday morning Bedford Library ride that summer, John Mosher asked me if I raced CX, then proceeded to convince me that I should. I still remember that first race in 2006, SuckerBrook CX. Since I was new and had no idea what to expect, I did the 35+ B race. It was hard but I had pretty good ride, spending the day in the lead group of three and finishing third right behind Todd Savage. I still have the trophy proudly displayed at home. That was the last B race for me and I jumped right straight into the A master's race, a massive shock for certain, one that sent me right to the tail end of the race.

Funny to think back to then, and look at the somewhat larger me in Smurf blue NEBC kit riding the 25# Redline with semi-slick clinchers. It seems that overdressing was a massive theme for us back then rocking knee-warmers and long sleeve thermals in anything below 60 degrees. It got me hooked though and hooked hard. Both of us in fact, as every step of the way Cathy was right there with me. Team Rowell, as it has been ever since and always, nearly every weekend in the fall for the past nine years.

Anyhow, my point is simply this, as much as I self analyze and get down on my own personal performances, one thing is true. Cycling and bicycle racing has changed us in so many positive ways. Our lives center around it, and the cats of course. It has become so much more than what we do, it is what we are. Thank you all for being a part of that and in turn for letting us be part of that community, family.

Peace and love.

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