I first started mountain biking way back in 1999 when I was an selling advertising for my local newspaper in Del Rio, Texas. The bike shop that I got my bike from and who took me to my first race was one of my advertising clients. My first race was the Chihuahan Desert Challenge in Lajitas, Texas. I raced the Beginner category which was a 14 mile loop through the desert. My bike was a Cannondale Super V 400 (kinda like this), a heavy full suspension bike right about the time full suspension was becoming a thing. I placed in the middle of my category and considered the overall experience positive. I wanted to race some more and get better!
Sadly, that would be my last race for 17 years. I had moved to San Marcos, Texas and got back in school. While I did use my bike in college, my hectic work/school schedule and constant moving from dorm to aparment became too much of a burden for actively pursuing mountain biking. I ended up selling the Super V.
Fast forward to 2008. I met the love of my life and got married. My wife bought me a Kona Hahanna from a local Goodwill as a Christmas present. I rode & crashed that bike through the Austin Greenbelt and it wasn’t long before I was longing for a higher end bike and maybe getting back into racing.
Then, she got pregnant and my priorities changed once again. Now, 6 years later, I am happy to say that I finally got back into racing and got a cool new entry level hardtail, a Scott Aspect 940 from Southwest Cycle Sport here in Austin, Texas.
I am not going to lie. I got my bike in January of this year (this time it was a birthday present), and entered into the Cat 3 Men’s 30-39 race category in February. My first race back in the game was the Rocky Hill Roundup. I got my ass handed to me and then some. I was out of shape, died on climbs, crashed a couple times and asked myself on multiple occasions, what in God’s name did I think I was doing? Then, I saw the finish line and when I crossed it didn’t matter that I placed 24th out of 30. I finished and that feeling was glorious.
Which brings me to my point. I am a 37 year old husband and father who has limited time to work out much less train. But I do have a competitive spirit and I could no longer play in my Men’s baseball league (My arm is done). I figured I would spent the next 10 years killing my legs. Also, I live in Austin which is like mountain bike heaven if you are a Texan.
So, basically what I am saying is, yes you too can race if you want to. My bike is not a fancy bike by any means. It is an entry level hard tail that is pretty heavy. But, it has disc breaks, 29 inch wheels and that is really all you need. As you become to know yourself again as a rider, the other things will fall into place in terms of what your more specific needs are. My goal was to do 3 races. I did. It was justification for spending 750.00 dollars on a birthday present to myself. Not to mention, I lost over 20 pounds and feel great!
My hangups were basically that I was too old, too out of shape, and I did not have the proper gear. Every single one of those excuses was BS. Yes, I am on the latter end of the Men’s category but in a couple of years I will be the young one in the next category. Yes, my bike doesn’t weigh 22 pounds and is not full suspension or made of carbon or have tubless wheelsets. So? I got the bike that was where I was at as a biker. Plus, I will reward myself with some tubeless wheels real soon. For every mile I ride on my bike, I attribute 1 dollar to an upgrade. Granted it is 100 degrees right now so I haven’t been ridng much but I think I might join a marathon race in the Fall. Who knows? What I do know is that my confidence level is way higher than it was at the beginning of 2016. So get out there and don’t worry about starting small. Start where you are at and build from there!