What am I doing? Sitting here writing my first blog in over two months. To be honest, in those two months there was only one story worth telling. The 2008 Bump & Grind. Was it a great story? No. Was it a story of hard work and perseverance? Yes.
Over the last two months, I have made a big mistake. One crucial to my cycling career. I let my day job take priority over my weekend "hobby." I know this isn't making much sense yet, but I will explain. Ever since I became serious about cycling, I considered myself a full-time athlete and part-time whatever else I did for cash. Why? Because being an athlete is a lifestyle, not just a career. As for my part-time jobs, well, they were just that: things I did for the cash needed to survive.
When I returned home from my month long tour of Fairyland, aka "California," I went back to my old job of turning wrenches at the local bike shop. Not the ideal job, but it pays the bills and I like bikes. Well, call me what you will, but the shop was busy so I began to work too much. I give 100% to my job when I am on the job, and all too often, that sucked me away from my bike.
I have been doing my best to ride more and ride harder, and I know it's paying off. Group rides are easier than ever. It is harder than ever to find a sufficient training partner. The problem? I am wasted. My body can't keep up with my ego. Between work and...well, work, I have run myself into the ground. Changes have been made, and I am doing better. I just wish I had seen the light sooner.
Let's get back to the good stuff. Let's talk about Bump & Grind. This was a race I won last year and was determined to win again. Going into the race I knew I wasn't in top shape due to a knee injury that caused nearly two weeks of down time. As nervous as ever, I rolled to the starting line with the hopes that I could best my adversaries and roll away with my pride, and bring home my one true shot at glory in 2008.
Have you ever won a competition because you weren't as good as those you were competing against? Well, it was a hot race. Hotter than last year and many a strong racer simply couldn't handle the heat. My problem? I wasn't fast enough to give them a run for their money, forcing me to run an inferior pace. How did this pay off? I was consistent all day. The others faded in the heat. Here is where it gets tricky. After losing site of the leaders about a mile into the race, I didn't regain site until well into the second half! That was well over an hour of having no clues to whether or not I was losing, maintaining, or gaining time with those up front. On one shoulder I had a little man telling me it was over, but hold tight and beat the guy behind you. On the other shoulder was a larger man telling me to cowboy-up and take care of business. After all, I opened the gap, I sure as heck better close it!
After a long hard push, one by one, the lead group fell apart and into my hands. After 2 hours, 9 minutes and 1 second, I crossed the finish line with a time equal to that of last years second place finisher and with more than 4 minutes separating myself and this years second place finisher.
After that race, I knew I needed to do some work. I decided to skip the next NMBS race with the idea that my time would be better served at home on my bike preparing for the MTB National Championships. By the way, that is where I am now. True story, I am sitting in a motel room in West Dover, VT, awaiting the start of the battle for major bragging rights and the ability to put stars-n-stripes on your jersey. Fun stuff, but of course, it will be a sufferfest. Nothing new, I don't suppose.
Before I go, I want to say THANK YOU to all my fans and supporters out there. You all help a lot and I appreciate all the inquiries. You have stuck with me through the bad, and I plan on taking you through some good soon. -Ryan Woodall