May 2, 2011

Defending Iola

The season is in full swing now. The first mtn bike race of the season went off yesterday WORS #1 in Iola and spring has been just nice enough to let the ground dry just enough to finally get on the trails for a little off road action. There was a lot of aprehension 2 weeks ago when 4" of snow fell if we would actually be having the race here this weekend, spring is maybe just now starting to feel like spring, I'd say about a month behind normal. It's been pretty miserable with very little for sunshine the last month and a lots of rainy and extremely windy days for riding. But, we are making it and things were just good enough to dry out by May 1 for Iola.

I have lots of memories of Iola, I have done this race now since at least 2000 when I was a comp racer. I think I got maybe 11th or something. Then, the next year I think I won it as an elite, maybe 2001 against Chad Melis and Jeff Otto. I was riding a Schwinn Homegrown and I think I could dig up a picture of that day. It was a pretty special win and I couldn't believe it when I actually came across the line. I think Iola has been my best race over the years and I am sure I have won it 5-6 times. I know one year in there it was snowing either late in the year, or early in the spring, so I guess things really dont' change much over the years weather wise. I also remember finishing Tour of CT in 2004 with Saturn, hopping on a plane and arriving home at midnight. I drove up Sunday morning and was able to win, that was a pretty special one too.
Since those first years as an elite I've traveled a lot and raced a lot, tried to go big on the NORBA circuit, tried to go big on the road with Saturn, but never quite seemed to make it. I told Jamie last night maybe things could be different if I had gotten on the podium at some of those NORBA short track races where I was 6th or 7th so many times. I look at who was right in front of me on the podium and many times it was Chris Sheppard, a pro with a contract beating me out for the final spot. Then, shortley after I decided I couldn't make it he gets busted for EPO and I think back how things might have been different if I had made the podium as some unknown WORS racer on team PCW making the Pro podium at short track what might have happend. It might have been that final step in making something out of it. Instead, a doper stood on the podium and all I can do now is just wonder. I think of this because Sheppard is back on the bike and winning big $$$ again and it just sort of bothers me. But, you can't go through life letting those kind of questions slow you down or discourage you from doing what you are doing now or being what you are now. It is what it is. I'm surely not blaming Sheppard for holding me back, there are many reasons why some guys make it and some don't, there's lots of links in a chain, but it's just one of those you look at that was out of my control.

I'm not sure where I am going with this but being at Iola where I first got the real taste of winning brought back some memories from over the years and most of the memories involve the WORS series and many of the races. Those first wins over the first couple of seasons 10 years ago are really memorable. The faces have changed over the years from Spiro and Blazer to Swanson, Hall, Lalonde, Matter but the racing has been the same. I've been doign WORS for 13 years and don't remember ever leaving wishing I hadn't gone, gotten in a fight with someone or left with a bad taste in my mouth. I am lucky to have found success early in my carreer and be able to look back 10 years later at a race I won when i was 19 and new to winning again now when I am 29 and well seasoned at the sport. I'll be luckier if I can do it again in 10 more years, but I'd like to say I'll still be trying.

I can see a lot of faces on the start line of guys who are looking for their first wins like I was. There are a lot of guys who put a ton of time and devotion into it just like I do and it's fun to race against guys that want it and push me to keep at those trainer intervals in April. I'm glad I can come to WORS and race against those guys and not wory about whether someone is doping and cheating us out of prize money or out all of our hard work and determination. It's clean, competive and great for memories.


~ Tandis ~ said...

Great blog. You racing WORS has made a lot of good family memories too. We're all proud of your dedication & hard work.

Anonymous said...

Nice read Tristan. Great start to your off-road season!


Kyle J said...

WOW! You are 29?