Not surprisingly, I've been thinking some about winning the last few weeks. Winning with frequency is a new concept to me. Prior to this cross season, here's the list of my cycling wins. Don't worry, it won't take long to read.
- 1 ICUP beginner class win (my first bike race).
- 2 ICUP 40+ Expert wins in 2006 (small field with no fast guys in both cases).
- 1 ICUP 40+ Expert win in 2007 with a legitimate field.
- 1 UTCX 35+ A win in 2007 in my best race ever.
- 1 UTCX 45+ win in 2008 (raced 35+ the rest of the season).
- 1 Expert 35+ downhill win in the early 2000's (raced two other DH's and crashed out of both).
I've had a couple veteran class heat wins on a cruiser BMX bike when the kids were dabbling with BMX, but no main event wins. I raced one NORBA National veteran dual salon event and won a couple heats but crashed out of the semis (was the end of my brief gravity racing career). That was my complete list of wins after many years and hundreds of races. I've never come particularly close to a win on a road bike and probably never will.
Each of these prior wins was a pretty big deal to me because I knew winning was a rarity. With this history, I'm not sure what to make of my streak of cross wins this year. I'm the first to point out that there's a couple 45+ guys racing 35+ that are consistently faster than me. However, being off the front of a good group of 45+ cross racers is still really cool and strange at the same time.
I've always considered myself a "slow, fast guy". In other words, I've been fast enough to race in the fast guy categories but never fast enough to consistently be at the front. So why do I, and for that matter most racers, race? It's certainly not for the winning. For me, racing has always been a battle with myself. A race was measured by my internal effort gage. If I gave it my best effort, the race was a success regardless of placing. In addition, I've always been a doer not a watcher. Participating in challenging things has always appealed to me.
Internal battles and personal challenges still motivate me, but over the years it's the MTB and Cross racing community that keeps bringing me back. I've been fortunate to become friends with a diverse and interesting group of people I would never have encountered in my "normal" life. I'm a better and more well rounded person because of it.
So, finally racing my age group and focusing my limited training exclusively on cross season has led to some wins this year. I'm very much enjoying it and will do my best to win some more. However, if I never win another bike race, I'll still show up for events because it's become part of who I am. When people ask if I ride bikes or if I'm a cyclist, I always respond with "I'm a bike racer".