The 2010 season started out with a lot of promise and the usual goals. I wanted to do as well as I could in the NUE 100 miler series. The secondary goal was to do as well as I could in some of the races in the H2H series. This past winter was very solid as the base was much better and I had a pretty good season in 2009 to build on. So early on the season was a great indication of what was to come.
In April I did the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek and although I didn't feel amazing, I did better than most. A 5th place finish was enough to see some of the promise as I usually don't race well early in the season. This set me up nicely for the Cohutta 100 3 weeks later. In the Cohutta I came very close to reaching my goal of a sub 8 hour finish. 3+ hours of solid driving rain made things a mess and my finish was an 8:10. This of course is pure motivation to go back again next year.
In the meantime between 100 milers, I competed in the Wawayanda and Tymor H2H race and did really well. A 2nd and 1st place were a complete surprise and let me know that I might have some top end to compete in this XC thing or it was just that I was fit really early and caught the others off guard. It could be really fun if I actually trained for these things.
Next up was the Mohican 100 and again my goal was to go sub 8. First peak of the season and I was feeling GOOD. I was ready to tear this thing up but Mother Nature had another idea. It rained 3+ inches the day before and 2+ during the race along with multiple tornados touching down as the race went on. Through all of this I was able to put down a super smooth ride and perservered to finish in 8:56 which would surely have been an hour + quicker in dry conditions. More motivation for next year.
Then back to H2H. The next few races were the William's Lake NYS race, then Lewis Morris and Kittatinny. William's Lake was crazy as I had mechanicals early and still finished 2nd. Lewis Morris I had a bad crash and mechanicals and fought back to 4th, and Kittatinny was the race that shouldn't as I had a hard 18 hour week prior and was tired yet pulled out the win. So more promise for this short XC thing. Again what if I actually trained for these short races. My focus all the time thus far has been on distance...
Next up was the hardest part of my season. My pulmonary embolism in Colorado. I had an amazing time riding and climbing with my brother and sister in law but the one night I awoke gasping for air. I find out later that I had a blood clot and after a short hospital stay I pushed myself to get back to normal and at this point I thought the whole season was over...in July. The Dr's told me to give up the thought of cycling but I thought otherwise. It HURT to ride at first but I knew it was something I HAD to do.
I don't know why but 3 weeks later I toed the line at the 909 H2H race. This was good as I came out of the gate hot but wow was my top end gone. The embolism shut things down and karma did the rest as I blew my chain and chased hard to gain some places. I just hoped if I saved some face that I "might" be able to finish the series out. Not likely but a lofty goal nonetheless. NUE races were totally ruled out as that kind of effort seemed waaay to far out. I was pressing my luck enough to finish the short races, nevermind 8 hour races.
Two weeks after that was the World Cup at Windham race. I felt like my lungs had recovered much better for this one. The top end didn't feel as dead and I was getting more confident riding on blood thinners and with my ability in general again. So I took off hard and stomped it through 2 laps. Too bad the race was 4 laps. 3 flats later on lap 3 and 4 I finally finished in 36th place. Nothing to write home about. But the performance was there...the performance was back.
Two weeks after 909 was the heart of the H2H finish. 3 races in 4 weekends. At this point I was hopeful that I could pull off something good but I still hadn't really felt like myself on a bike again since July. First up was Blue Mtn and a nice techy race was fun. I had a great race but nutrition/hydration issues. I fought hard but lap 3 was tough as I was hurting. Still a 4th place finish was MUCH better. This gave me the promise to finish the series out and hopefully pull out the win. HOPEFULLY. So into the second to last race I hit it hard and had some miscues but pulled away from the group and had a really solid race. This was a sweet 2nd place and a 2nd place in the State Championship race made me feel like I was really back. It felt so good to be back - 8 weeks after my embolism.
The best part - somehow - I pulled out the series win with this last 2nd place. I did ok and had my issues but I was still consistent. I won the overall H2H Cat 1 30-39 Championship...holy crap. This is a dream that I thought was such a farshot at the start of the season, then it was an abandoned dream when I was in the hospital, and for it to be a reality was totally amazing. I still can't wrap my head around it.
So now you're probably saying - didn't he say 3 races? That was only 2 if you were paying attention. So here's where I took the leap of faith, well the first one. Since the series was wrapped up I decided to throw my hat in the wring of the Pro/Cat1 race at the Ringwood Leaf Blower race. This was the final of the H2H race season. Why not. I figured the worst that was going to happen was for me to be DFL and I was ok with that. So I raced in the fastest race of my life. My God was the pace hot. I literally threw up twice and it was amazing. I was really happy to be holding that pace and helping a fellow teammate at the same time. Finishing 10th of 13 was even better and that was with a flat tire on the final mile of trail. Just a good experience and sign of what's to come.
Finally I'll wrap up this novel with the last leap of faith. So far the season went totally against how I thought it would so I'll keep pressing the unexpected. With my health I couldn't focus on the NUE so I went with my backup of the H2H which worked out really well even though it was not a focus at all. My focus was either on distance or recovery. Again...what if I actually trained for this short XC stuff. Anyway since the season did go reasonably well I opted to submit my resume to the USAC and see if they would give me my pro upgrade. I was really nervous as I honestly NEVER thought I could get this. Thinking back as a sport rider in 2006 and through the following years I've admired the pros and never thought I'd have the ability or will to do what they do. And guess what - now USAC says I have to. They granted my approval so with the purchase of my international license I am now a Pro mountain biker. How amazing. When I got the email I was almost in tears. Never, ever, did I think I'd see that in print. I know it's nothing glamourous and there's no big contracts coming my way but just to be considered a pro and to have the resume to attain that is mind boggling to me. And something that I am so proud of.