When I got my first bike, before I even started my first race, I dreamed of becoming a professional cyclist. I wanted to go to Europe and race Paris-Roubaix, I wanted to bang bars in the sprint at Athens Twilight, I thought that I would race cyclo-cross in Belgium, instead of drinking beers from New Belgium.
I'm going to be a professional. Except that I'm going to be a professional teacher. I realized very quickly that becoming a professional bike racer was a pipe-dream, but that I could still enjoy the sport and attempt to compete at the highest level possible.
So, going into my last semester at the University of South Carolina, I decided I didn't have much time left. I also decided that being in a long-distance relationship is a lot of work. Jen and I decided we could figure out a way to take care of both of those in one swift kick. Admittedly, the bike racing thing was more my idea, but we both benefit. I promise.
This was the plan we came up with: I'm going to finish this semester, work for a few weeks, and then leave Columbia for the rest of the summer and put in mad base miles in Savannah. I'm 27 ('cross racing age) and starting grad school in January. Time is at a premium. Racing is going to have to take a back seat when I start my Masters in Teaching program and, as my 30s rabidly approach, I'm running out of time for it to be socially acceptable to spend all of my time on my bike and in coffee shops. I'm taking advantage of it while I can.
The goal when I come home is to come flying into the cyclo-cross season, maybe win a race or two and upgrade. I've been a cat. III cyclo-cross racer for long enough. I'm planning to return to Savannah for the Savannah Super Prestige weekend as a II, finally, and get that UCI License that has seemed like a myth for so long. Am I going to win UCI races? No. Am I going to get a UCI point? Maybe. I can only hope. Am I going to get lapped out of races that I drove 10+ hours for? Probably.
The important part here is: when I start teaching, I'm going to be able to tell my students that I was an elite bike racer in a past life. I'll be able to look back and remember that summer I dropped everything to hangout with my girlfriend and chase a dream that's really silly in reality, but super important to me.
It's my punk rock dream. It's my #getinthevan world tour. It's my last grasp at irresponsible youth. I'm gonna give it a shot.