Redhook criterium is tonight. By now most people have heard of this wild race series which resembles traditional American criterium racing mixed with fixed gear track bikes, but what you may not have heard is that I'm firing up to race the series with Aventon Bikes factory racing team.
My last race was with Champion System / Stan's NoTubes in central China in October of 2015. Since then I've checked most the boxes of what washed up pros do once they readjust the lens with which they see the world; I moved to Southern California, got a job, moved in with my girlfriend, started surfing, spearfishing, got drunk on a few Friday nights, and started telling stories to non-cyclists about how great it was being a pro cyclist. All things considered it's been a great year and a half.
For the first year I barely even wanted to touch my bike. The battle in my head over the sport persisted ever since I first took a paycheck to ride. After having been raised in what most would consider a low income family, racing opened doors for me that I couldn't have ever dreamt possible and it fueled me to work harder and harder at the sport. I got to travel the world and spend everyday tweaking and perfecting my training so I could be the best when it came time to race, the simplicity of being an athlete was so beautiful in that way and for a while I was chomping at the bit to be the best. On the other hand, as time passed concerns grew over what sacrifices was I making to my long term wellbeing. What was I going to do about my mounting student loan debt, lack of retirement savings, and what career opportunities would afford me the ability to tackle these major concerns down the road. Those fears are what increasingly kept me up at night and ultimately what lead me to focus on growing Orucase and not so much on cycling.
After giving up racing and really focusing on my career I'm so relieved to say that I'm in a much better place now and whenever I go out riding my enjoyment for the sport isn't consumed by the troubles that it once caused for my life. Riding now is what it once was, fun!
More recently riding has been a way to branch out to my new community, in fact that's how I got connected with Aventon and the manager of the team Sean Burke. We met at a somewhat rowdy holiday party in December where he made the best tipsy sales pitch enticing me to start racing again, it was incredible. I'll spare him the reenactment but I dusted my bike off not long after hangover wore off.
The team is super cool. Basically Redhook is whatever I want it to be. Obviously the team wants to win but none of us are full-time anymore. Given the history of the riders on our team, I think Sean knows that we all hold ourselves to a higher standard and we'll all do everything we can to be ready come race day. I sure know that I want to win, but I know these things take time and this is a whole new sport for me. A year of surfing hasn't done for my riding as it's done for my beach bod! For now, I need to be a student of the race and prove my value to the team by focusing on how I can be a good teammate and learn from those more suited to chase after the win tonight!
There are four Redhook races this year. My plan is to use this blog as a forum to memorialize my experiences back in the competitive scene, as well as expand the attention being brought to the fixie crit scene and the creations Orucase is coming up with to assist with this growing sport.
Wish me luck!