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Fantastic weekend! Little bit of local stage racing, little bit of cruising with my progenitor masquerading as Alejandro Valverde 20 years removed from racing (bonus: I think he likes my Dogma), little bit of ice cream, corned beef, and burgers, little bit of mashing for four hours on Sunday. 

From the Friday mailbag:

How did you get hooked up with the CC team? 

Long story. Kind of. I started working at RealCyclist (CC’s future owners) in November of 2010 putting ordered bikes together in the shop, as well as doing a lot of warehouse logistical fun. Shortly thereafter RealCyclist sponsored the team, and I met Gord when he took a tour of our warehouse sometime in the winter (though I doubt he remembers - he commented on my UHC team shirt and I got some warm fuzzies). Fast-forward a few months, and I’d embarked upon my overly ambitious season-long Cat 5-to-1 campaign. I’d also transferred over to doing bike photography for BC, giving me a lot more latitude when it came to bailing out of work to race. 

Anyway, I first met RealCyclist’s athelete sponsorship/cat herding guy, Jonny Atencio, in April at Gila where I was riding in the 3’s (and would eventually take second in the GC). He was a little confused when I begged him for some team kit to give to my New Mexico housing host, but chucked some lycra/beer coozies my way and patted me on the head. I tried to remain in contact with him on an intermittent basis (read: I’d email and beg him for stuff) throughout the season, as we worked in different offices.

Enter early August, right before the 2011 Tour of Utah. Fresh off winning the Cat 2 GC at Cascade and a local stage race, I headed up to DealerCamp in Park City for work and free margaritas. Serendipitously, the Pro Team was there, meeting sponsors and mingling with the kind-of public. It was there that I met one of the team owners, Jason Kriel, and I asked the rather baldfaced question: “Is there a chance I could ride with you guys next year?”. He asked me to send him a resume, and I wormed my way into going out for a four-hour ride with the team the day after (for the locals: The PC/Guardsman/Emigration/Parley’s loop), a nice 2000 meter, 115km day.

During the ride, we got to talking about the weekend’s upcoming Utah State Championship road race, and myself/Evan Hyde (then Park City resident and team member) managed to con Rabou and Paco into doing it. Coincidentally, my parents live in the town near where the race is held, about 150km from Salt Lake - built in host housing for the crew of four (sidenote: also where I’d find myself the following spring)! The race ended up going 1/2/3 RC, with my ass dragging up 4th.  By nature of elite amateur competition, I was awarded the state championship.

The Tour of Utah came and went, Backcountry/RealCyclist fulfilled my dreams of shooting bikes like Competitive by buying them, and the days went on. Enter October (I think), and I got a message from Jason: “You want a spot?”. I had to contain the news for a few weeks, and was a little on the verge of exploding into a bludgeoned pinata of joy for awhile.  

So, there’s the novella. Connor Bondlow over at ROAD Magazine did a far more eloquent job of detailing things in the May issue (free digital subscription). 

Posted at 11:58am and tagged with: competitive cyclist racing team, usu classic, nate king, paco mancebo, evan hyde, thomas rabou, gord fraser, jason kriel, pinarello, competitive cyclist, backcountry,.

Tommy Chandler, Competitive Cyclist

Undefined enigma of sorts, PRO is an aspirational essence - one of those things that “if you have to ask…”. In fact, if you’re wondering why it’s capitalized, you’re probably on the right track. 

Opining in my never-humble manner while cooking dinner last Friday night (and after taking yet another rib about running a frame pump on a Dogma 2), I came to the conclusion that the concept of pro has little to do with sock cuff length, shaved legs, neon-yellow helmets, what you eat on rides, your FTP wattage, carbon tubulars, or even your past race results.

I began dwelling on my somewhat-harrowing San Dimas/Redlands adventure last month (possibly fueled by the fumes of reducing pear balsamic vinegar), and giving a fair bit of scrutiny to the mentality of our veteran riders; looking for ways that I could improve my own performance. Something hit me, especially while revisiting the last day of Redlands.

We were up against the wall, with Paco (our team captain, GC honcho, and Iberian vino connoisseur) down a good chunk of time from the GC lead. Our director sportif laid out the plan of attack to put Mancebo in yellow, being honest in his assessment of our capabilities/roles for the infamous Sunset Road Circuit Race. It became apparent that the brunt of the load for winning the race would fall to the shoulders of our strongest riders.  

It was then that I knew what made these guys, by definition, pro. We were all tired. We weren’t in what I’d call optimal spirits, and the rain forecast for the day wasn’t lightening anyone’s mood (especially after the torrential San Dimas road race the weekend prior). It was obvious Paco was a bit knackered, and probably would’ve much rather have been sipping Castilian wine at home instead of destroying himself in the final minutes of that race - in a frigid downpour. So, when he went off the front with about 20k to go in the bike race (and from our understanding at that time, had taken the lead), I was struck with a certain sense of awe and respect. He went out and did his job. Period. The circumstances didn’t matter - he and the strong guys around him left it all on the course, just what their team had asked of them. THAT, in my nubile rookie eyes, is PRO - win or lose. 

(top photo credit: Tommy Chandler, Competitive Cyclist; bottom photo badass bib-fixing credit: my awesome lycra-adept mom)

Posted at 10:21pm and tagged with: competitive cyclist racing team, cycling, nate king, San Dimas Stage Race, paco mancebo, francisco mancebo, redlands classic, gord fraser, htfu, one column,.

You know that old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child”? 

I’m pretty sure it applies to bike racers, too. 

2011 has been an utter whirlwind season. Originally I wrote a long, rambling epistle on how overwhelming my first year of racing was, but I kept coming back in a circular loop to one glaring thought in my mind: “Dammit Nate, you’d be nowhere without your village.”

So, to the cycling village (yes, that probably means you) that brought me up in my racing infancy, quite literally catapulting this downtrodden Cat 5 grom to Pro in a season, I express my deepest gratitude. From the mentoring, coaching, lodging, feeding, rescuing, bandaging, long pulls, equipment help, financial help, bottle handups at races - it all made the difference. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and hope that one day I can pay it all forward tenfold. 

I’m incredibly humbled to be added to the roster for the 2012 Competitive Cyclist Racing Team - Paco and company managed to take apart the NRC this year in their initial season as a UCI Continental pro team, and did so with a staggering level of aplomb. I’m nothing short of honored to be welcomed onto a crew of seriously hardworking and successful racers. 

I know the road ahead is going to be an all-encompassing baptism by fire, but what I lack in experience I’ll compensate for with hard work, a visceral enthusiasm to learn, and a passion for nothing short of success when it comes to meeting our goals as a team. 

I. Can’t. Wait.


This Is My Machine and Nothing Can Stop It

Posted at 12:25am and tagged with: bike racing, competitive cyclist, cycling, going pro, nate king, paco mancebo,, two column,.