Sunday, January 20, 2013

Finding Comfort on your Racing Bike


Parts of the hour and a half drive to Cape Coral BMX were quieter than usual as a cyclone of questions circled relentlessly around in my head. I hadn't raced BMX since August. That was five months of concentrating on other sports, other types of racing and training. During that time I had also changed my bike and my attitude.

Why did I have questions? Let me recap my 2012 season really quick and it will become obvious. I started the year with a new frame provided by my Advertising partners CycleCraft BMX. The former Peddler's Bike Shop made a deal with me on a new Supercross fork and some other parts. In essence it was a completely new bike. We're talking laid back geometry with swift handling but something didn't fit right.


For whatever reasons I couldn't get used to my new bike. In race after race I was fumbling and awkward. I was afraid to take chances at the Naples Qualifier and I hurt my back trying to manual the night before the Sarasota Qualifier. I kept trying to overcome the problem but it continued to get worse. I took last place at the Florida Cup Championships and then didn't even make the main at the All Star Race in Orlando. My stubbornness persisted until finally I had to admit my discomfort was causing me to hesitate and thus lose. 

During the autumn season I swapped my 20 inch CycleCraft for a more forgiving Formula Cruiser and decided to try things a different way. Instead of practicing on the clay, I rode it around my neighborhood. Two to three days a week I put 4 to 6 miles on the bike. I rode it on the trails, ripped around the local walkways and generally had fun with it. This became a part of my training right alongside swimming, running and mountain biking. This brings us up to date - my first race on the Cruiser.


Terri and I went to Cape Coral BMX figuring that the two of us would only need one other Cruiser to make a class. Luckily Rumsey Rammuny signed up with his slick looking, blood red Intense. The three of us hung out the entire night. Rumsey is a long time Expert and was too fast for us so it was easy to guess the outcome. The real challenge that night was facing an advanced track on a bike I have never raced. The first couple of motos felt fine. No surprises as Rumsey took the lead with myself being about four lengths behind him and Terri taking the third spot.

That night Terri and I had been talking about whether we wanted to spend the money to complete the full Florida Cup series. We knew we could report on the races without competing but we didn't want to let our teams down. Tonight was meant to persuade us one way or the other.


Now it was time for the main event. We were the first moto but as I sat on the gate waiting for the introductions to end, I felt no nervousness, no hesitation. As the starting timer beeped I thrust my Cruiser forward and started chasing Rumsey. I remembered that he confessed to getting tired by the third straight so I wanted to stay as close as possible for when his legs burnt out.

I pedaled fast and easy, my cross training has put me in fantastic shape. Rumsey could handle the track but I could out pedal him on the straights and corners. When we reached the last turn I dropped my weight into the wheels and started gaining. As he was catching his breath I was fearlessly flying up on his left. With only feet to go I pulled up next to him and stretched out the bike missing the win by less than a foot.


I was thrilled with the close finish. That deep desire to compete had been reignited in one moment of passionate attack. The truth is that I would compete at everything if I had the money. I love competition especially on two wheels. As for our season? We will be making those decisions one race at a time.

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