Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving with Cyclocross

El Bee's road race 1990
Yes those are tube socks on my arms, I couldn't afford
arm warmers
I've got quite a lot to be thankful for. As this blog is pretty much about cycling I'll stick to that part of the conversation. The transformation I've gone through this year has been pretty exciting for me. I'm as fit as I've been since I was 20 and every day on the bike is nothing but pure enjoyment. Cycling has provided me with many opportunities over the years. As a kid growing up in Nebraska though it was pretty hard to make anything big happen. Yeah I had the opportunity to attend multiple training camps at the US Olympic training center as a junior and senior road racer. But cycling was a small sport in the mid to late eighties, and even smaller in Nebraska.

In the early nineties, I made the switch to mountain biking. But just like road racing in the eighties, it wasn't very big in Nebraska and we were always required to travel 8-10 hours a weekend to get to and from not just a good race, but any race, and the only way to get really fast is to race your brains out, every weekend. Which brings me to my point. Bike racing in the US is expensive. When you're a U-23 or Junior racer working part-time earning $7K (maybe) a year and going to school it's hard to make it happen. I gave it my best shot but the deck back then was stacked against me.

Now, as a masters racer, with a good job, a wife with a good job, a house and spare time, I've finally been able to do one of the things I've always dreamt about. Compete on the national circuit and do it at Cyclocross. The motivation for all of this, as I've mentioned before, is that the masters world championships will be held in the US in 2012 and 2013. If cyclocross would have only been this big when I was a junior, I wonder how much different my path would have been?

Which brings me to my second point. We've all been given the opportunity to help a rider who is at the same point in his cycling career as I was 20 years ago. Joe Schmalz from Kansas has been invited back to Euro-Cross Camp for the second year in a row. Joe is only 20 years old and is already one of the top U-23 'cross racers in the country. But just like what the case was for me 20 years ago is the case now, USA Cycling doesn't pay crap to support their young athletes. Joe is trying to raise additional funds to help offset the cost of attending Euro-Cross Camp, and I urge you to head over to his blog and donate $5, $10, $20, whatever, to help make this happen. For US cyclocross racers, the deck is stacked against us. I'm thankful for what cycling has done for my life, time to spread the love.


Joshua Stamper said...

So was the El Bees race sponsored by the el bee's out here in Waterloo?

MOD 2.0 said...

Yep, started on main street. It was the spring kick off race for years.

sda said...

I had those shoes. Two pairs for like 4 years. And I remember that Colnago. Sweet.