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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cat 2

I thought to myself it's getting late in the road racing season and I only have a couple months left to really up my game and reach my goal of getting my category 2 upgrade. I knew what I had to do and I only had 3 races left before I took off to Alaska. I had to kill it at all three and get points to ensure I wouldn't be fighting for the few races left in the season when I returned from the frontier. I geared up and headed to Naugatuck Ct. this weekend. I opted out of the the Tour of the Hilltowns race on Saturday because last year my legs cramped up real bad and I ended up laying in the river about 4 miles from the finish. Hahahah ahhhhh that's a race I will never forget. I knew arriving at Naugatuck I had a good chance at doing well because there was only 25 people pre registered and I wasn't too worried about any of them. After getting to the race I started seeing some really fast dudes that hadn't pre registered online that were registering day of. I started sweating a little bit and knew I would have my work cut out for me in the race. 

Right from the start of the race people were attacking. Two guys broke off the front on the first lap and stayed away for 4 laps. I knew not to follow them cause they couldn't hold it. After they returned into the pack a couple guys launched another brutal attack off the front. This happened time and time again and always got pulled back. It was a super fast and hard course to make a break on. With 20 laps to go I saw a break happen that I knew I had to be in, so I stood up, gritted my teeth and bridged up to the group pulling one other guy with me, all of a sudden we had a 100 foot gap on the field and 5 dudes in our break all working together. We held the break the entire race and with 5 laps to go another 3 guys bridged up to us and it was a brutal sprint for the finish. One guy started sprinting with about 400 meters to go so I knew I had to act now or I wouldn't make it, so I hit it hard and started sprinting and there it was, a long drawn out sprint. I had a strong finish and only 2 dudes just barely made it past me and I took 3rd, scoring me enough points in one race to get my upgrade!!!! 

So, I'm really happy and I have a great sense of accomplishment. I have been training my ass off all year to make it to this level of racing. I went from cat 4 to cat 2 in less than a year so I know I have potential at this sport even at the old man age of 27. Hahahah, so I am heading to Alaska on Monday with a renewed sense of self worth and happiness. I can relax and ride bikes in the beautiful mountains of Alaska and not worry about getting enough points to get my upgrade when I get home. I have my first races this weekend in the pro field at New London criterium on Saturday and then I'm doing the bike leg of the Pedal and Plod duathalon which is a 25 mile Time Trial on Sunday morning and then I'm racing the pro 1/2 crit at Limerock at 5 in the evening. So my legs are basically going to be destroyed for a long couple days of travel to Alaska. Then they will heal up and I'll start hanging out with my amazing family up north!!!!!!! I will write another blog after this weekend when I'm waiting at the airport! 

I know I have my eyes closed in both of these pictures. I planned it that way, I swear. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

PTSD sucks

Yesterday was a day of fireworks and barbecues all over the country. While out on a bike ride I could smell a BBQ on every corner. It was not only a day of eating, watching people get drunk and light stuff on fire for me. I was eating dinner at Kripalu when my friend Carly asked me if I was going to hang out and watch the fireworks tonight. My reply has been the same for the last 8 years, since I came home from Iraq. I can't watch the fireworks because if I do, I usually end up freaking out. Theres few things that trigger my PTSD and bring me back to that vivid reality of mortars landing all around us, whether on a convoy through the Urban chaos or simply laying in bed trying to fall asleep. For years I would go to fireworks shows on the 4th of July and end up feeling isolated from everyone I was hanging out with. So now, when asked if I'm going to watch the fireworks show I simply tell people why I don't partake in the festivities. I'm self aware enough to know what what my triggers are around my experiences in Iraq. Also the 4th of July for me is a time of reflection on my time at war. A day of remembrance for the friends I lost to suicide and I.E.D. explosions. While the majority of people are having a good time, getting wasted and listening to James Taylor there are veterans all over the country in pain and remembering their experiences at war.

I am torn between many lives. Yes I did join the military when I was very young and I do not regret any of my time on active duty while stationed at Ft. Campbell and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. Today I am very much against war and any type of violence. Then there's Independence day from a Native American view point. I could go on and on all day long about politics, government and Native rights but when I start getting in my head about all this stuff it just makes for so much negativity. Sooooo that's when I go for a bike ride!!!!

I spent last weekend out in Northhampton with the J.A.M. team riding bikes!! It was a ton of fun. Saturday we were out on the bikes for over 8 hours!!! We didn't plan it that way but people flatted and had mechanicals. We rode over 5.5 hours, 100 miles, climbed 7,500 ft., burned over 4,000 cal. and had an amazing time. Then on Sunday we rode 5 hours again, climbed 5,500, burned over 3,000 cal and did the fundo loop. It was a hard weekend of training with an amazing group of bike racers. I learned a lot about my mental ability to ride really hard when my legs hurt really bad and just keep going. A lot of the pain in cycling is a mental thing and if you can push through that mental barrier your legs will open up and you will be attacking off the front!!!!