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My Not-Getting-Gapped Year

Matt at his most fit

When I dropped everything for cycling, I learned to hate the sport and eventually love it again.

After spending the first twenty years of my life obsessed with bikes (racing BMX, doing flatland, ramp, street BMX, working at bike shops through high school) I went off to college and didn’t ride much for many years after. About ten years ago I climbed onto my first road bike and was bitten by the bug all over again.

I rode a couple thousand miles each year on my own, whenever I could. I eventually started riding more often, longer distances, and on better bikes. I joined up with local shop rides, found out one of my wife’s colleagues raced and eventually I discovered cyclocross racing. Mountain bike racing soon followed and then road racing and finally I helped sponsor and co-founded a team.

A couple years being on a bike team made me to notice common patterns with my teammates. Those members new to the sport would try a beginner class race, do extremely well, move up a category, race from the back of the pack to the front by the end of the season and after a season or two be in one of the elite categories of racing. I watched one person after another get off a couch, onto a bike, and quickly get progressively faster.

Me? I found myself at the very back of beginner groups for the whole first year, followed by consistent bottom-third placings in the lowest categories. After a few years of this, I began to grow tired of it. It was either my size (I’m quite tall), my weight (I’m over 200lbs), or my health (I have some thyroid/hormone issues). The most frustrating part was that I would train more each year and I would know what was going to happen in specific events, ...