Wednesday, January 07, 2009

PRO !

Yes that is right. After almost 20 years of racing I am offically a professional bike racer in the eyes of USA Cycling....on a mountain bike. I find this absolutely hilarious. I would have given my right arm to get a pro mtb license 10 years ago, and now at the young racing age of 43, I am a neo-pro. How did this happen???
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A little history:
I started racing mountain bikes in 1992. I was not very good. In fact at my first race as a "beginner" I finished square in the middle of the pack ....something like 52nd out of about 100 riders. Stellar right?...but I was instantly in love with racing. Exactly one year later at the very same race I was an "expert" racer in the pro/expert category. I finished 3rd. OK, so that was not bad. After another year on the east coast racing expert I moved out to Boulder, CO thinking I was going to be the next Tomac...or Tinker...or maybe Shogren :). I trained hard ...maybe too hard...had some great early season results, followed by a serious bout with overtraining (whoops so much for that season). I got my act together and moved back east in 96. I had a great season that year and was ready to upgrade...but that was the year the "semi-pro" category was introduced. This was the heyday of MTB racing and the pro races were overcrowded....another category was needed to bridge the gap between expert and pro racers. At the time this worked, but unfortunately that gave me an extra step. I raced as a semi-pro, mostly in New England for a couple of seasons when the races were huge, the competition unbelievable and the prize money outstanding. I was a solid top 10 new england series guy, but at the national level (which is where the upgrade results were needed) I was nothing but mediocre.
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In 1999 I got my first road team contract (NOT pro) and switched over to racing on the pavement full time....which I did for the better part of 10 years as an elite amateur.
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Now I am back to racing mostly in the dirt and the powers that be decided to scrap the semi-pro category entirely....giving us the choice of getting a pro license or dropping back down to expert. You might think it would make more sense for an old codger like me to drop back to expert....and you would probably be right. The trouble is that at 40+ years old, as an expert, the cross country races are usually short....too short. That and I like chasing around the fast young guys...and making fun of them on the rare occasion that I might beat a couple of them. Also, since my primary race objectives are endurance races (where there is really just an "open" race with no categories), the ability listed on my license is pretty much irrelevant.
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Now, many people have asked me : weren't you a road pro?? No, never was and never will be. While the road team I have been associated with has taken out a uci pro license for 2009, I am most decidedly NOT on the pro roster....no way I am good enough for that :) let alone being at least 15 years too old.
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So there you have it...the reason I may very well be the world's oldest neo-pro.
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a2

3 comments:

Bob Kuhn said...

Congrats! :)

With that new upgrade I expect you to demolish us on the 24th.

Aaron Trent said...

I swear, the more I know about you tandem pilots, the more scary paralympic camps start to sound. It seems like all of you are Cat1s, soon to be Cat1s, or in your case, Pro!

Will Blsack said...

Happy birthday old man. There must be something in the water around here I asked for my Pro license back and they agreed to give it to me. Look out the 40+ guys are coming.