I love favorites lists. They help me clarify what I enjoy doing, they help race promoters adjust their offerings and they spread the word about events you might not even know about. For me this was a year of firsts. I took on my first endurance race and my first cyclocross race. I bought my first singlespeed, tried fixies, recumbents and landed on the podium twice. As a transition year it was all about exploration and having fun. These are my top seven favorite rides/races of 2014.
Ever get your hands on a dream bike? Back in February I got to tame an S-Works Stumpjumper 29er taking it on a busy Tuesday night ride that sported no less than 40 bikers. There were some high speed banks that almost turned my hair white but in all it was a fun evening. Read the story of how I saddled this beast in the inky blackness of the Carlton Reserve - Dream Bike Review.
Most good races are known for having a distinct feature. The term "sand trap" was never truly in my mountain bike vocabulary until I attempted this race back in March. Having the wrong tires didn't stop me from barreling into the competition. I faced terrain with names like "Rutty Roll" and "Super Log World." That day the course won but with the right tires I might be back - Fat Tires Rule!
Injured, sleep deprived and in the wrong gear, I still enjoyed my first cyclocross race. Promoters Josh and Kaleigh Thornton turned Stanley Park into a New England style climbers course that set the stage as the first race of the season. The supportive atmosphere and hand ups eased my pains just enough for a respectable finish - First CX Race.
I love trying new things and this represented a trio of boldness. I had been dying to get involved in the Real Bikes Englewood Saturday morning road ride but to do it I had to borrow a bike (a fixie). I worked to maintain speeds that averaged more than 18mph with a sprint that reached 28mph. The concentration and effort involved pushed my riding to another level - To Fixie or Not?
Josh and Kaleigh Thornton did it again by building a course at Burke Park that became known as the "Off-Camber Masterpiece." This race was special to me in part because only eight days earlier a Doctor had pulled a one inch long shard of wood out of my left foot. How I recovered in time to beat my closest rival and win a medal, I will never know. Sometimes miracles do happen - From the Grave to the Podium.
One of the few dedicated Cyclocross courses in the country sits in Palm Bay, Florida. With a newly built run-over, a BMX track and a steady stream of local riders to fill the ranks, Infinity Cross is the complete experience. From the Angus beef hot dogs to heckler's hill to the mud drenched second day of racing, this locale had it all. On a course that exposed my weaknesses and crippled my strengths, you can imagine my surprise when I landed on the podium - Infinity Wars.
I have a dream to someday race the infamous Leadville Trail 100 MTB race in Colorado. However, it was a pretty distant dream because I had no experience doing endurance races until I signed up for Piggy's Revenge. Despite having completed more than 100 bicycle races, completing the 40 mile route at Piggy's was the toughest thing I had ever done. After that day Leadville transformed from a dream into a goal. This year I have had the honor of being one of the promoters of the 2015 event - Thrills & Spills at Piggy's Revenge.