When I initially started riding and racing in the summer of 2012 and finally figured out the foreign language of USAC’s categories and what they meant, I remember making the comment “Wow, that’d be so cool to be a Cat 1 mountain biker some day! Maybe I’ll aim for that by age 35!” I was 28 at the time, placing mid pack in the local mountain biking series in the beginner level, and really had no idea about racing, training, and really riding in general.
I took 2013 seriously, traveling all over to race, placing 2nd at US Nationals in cat 3 in PA, having some wins, and burning myself out before cyclocross saved the day. Hell, I even threw a triathlon in there for grins. I didn’t really train, but I still started stepping up to intermediate/advanced races and went to cat 2 immediately after nationals. I was pretty lost, but the ideas started to creep into my head that cat 1 could happen a lot sooner than 35! In the fall I hooked up CritFit and my coach Tony Diede, and aside for some set backs due to changing jobs/buying a house/life, got into the training groove.
2014 became about racing smart, choosing races wisely, and getting that damn cat 1 upgrade! And piece by piece the plan fell into place, with solid winter and spring training leading into a planned mountain bike season built upon some fun times road racing. The mental game began to change for me, which helped the physical aspect. Unfortunately riding faster means wrecking harder, and it seems like I was walking a fine line all summer between injury and wellness. Luckily nationals came and went without a hitch, and I had a solid performance that exceeded my expectations, and had a dominating race in Iowa to seal the deal. I hesitantly sent off the request while sitting on my best friend’s couch in New Jersey.
And waited… and waited. Then the email came. First for mountain bike. Approved! Oh sh!t, I’m cat 1! What the hell did I get myself into?! Within a half hour later, the cyclocross cat 3 upgrade came in – approved! Woohoo, but what the hell did I get myself into?! I’m not even 31, I have 4 more years, dammit! EEEKKK! Then excitement and elation at knowing I achieved something I kinda really wanted. Sure, I’ll be working my way up from the bottom, and it means more training, more time on a bike, and more conquering my hang ups. But it’s nice to be at the bottom of the top!
Some people ask if the new goal is a pro upgrade, and I think I can give a big solid NO to that one. Right now I just want to focus on moving up through cat 1 and eventually find a comfortable place at the top of that category. Pro is a lot of time and money and talent that I am not sure is worth pursuing. However, I would like to move up through cyclocross and become a cat 2 sooner vs later!
Here’s to the kicking of my ass known as cat 1 racing! Cheers!