Room 715, Crowne Plaza Philadelphia. 1 June 2013, 9:53 PM.
In the words of Dan Chabanov.
Tomorrow I am gonna race my very first Philly Pro Race, I'm a little scared. And but excited too, I think. It's always hard to be 100% calm when things leading up to the race haven't lined up exactly how you wanted. You wind up feeling like you're floating into the unknown, knowing some of the things you needed to control you havent been able to, e.g. crashing the week before a big race sucks.
If it wasn't for the crash I would be calm-nervous instead of nervous-nervous. At this point in my career I don't really get nervous for a race, I just go to my room, I attach my frame number, I put on my timing chip, I pin my race number to my jersey, I watch Awkward episodes and zone-out until I decide it's time to go to sleep. I have my routine and that routine is what I normally channel all my nervous energy into, but tonight every time I get up to do something or walk around somewhere I can feel my knee, and so I then I starting thinking about my knee, and so now my knee is attracting all of this nervous energy making impossible to funnel that shit it into other more positive things. My knee is just sucking and talking trash, it's like, "I'm your shitty fucking knee right now, suck it."
I've wanted to do Philly ever since I knew enough about bike racing to know what Philly is.
That's kind of a stupidly large statement, but it's true, and here I am. And I don't care that it's not the same promoter, and its a different Philly race and its a different course—that doesn't fucking matter. It's a pro bike race, it's going up the Manayunk wall, it's fucking Philly. For all intents and purposes, if it walks like Philly, if it smells like Philly, if it goes up the Wall, it's Philly.
You know, I don't really care how it's gonna go for me. I know it's going to be hard. I just want to, you know, do a good job for Matt. I hope he has a good race, I want to help him as much as I can. And if I can do that and finish, I'll be happy. It's a 120 mile race, its fucking brutally hot, theres 194 guys and its gonna be five hours of 100% concentration. If you make one mistake you're gonna be fucked because in races like this, you can't use your fitness to overcome mistakes. If you do, then you don't have any fitness left to race the bike race.1
I just want to finish, I want to help my teammate; that's a success for me.
The CRCA/ChampSys thing came about because of a rule in the UCI that says two teams cannot share a title sponsor in the same race, or have kits that are matching. Because the Champion Systems Pro Continental team is racing, the Champion Systems Amateur team (which shares the same title sponsor and some management) can't be in the race. They want to avoid two teams working together, especially blatantly. That's why that rule is there. But the reality is that the amateur team wants to prove to the sponsors that they deserve money and the Pro Continental team can't be outdone by the amateurs; the last time they enforced this rule was when they didn't want the Trek-Livestrong devo team that's now under Bontrager Racing in the same race as Radioshack because they shared a title sponsor in Trek. But the racers don't give a fuck.
I see this as a moment—I don't know if it's a fork in the road, but it is a moment. Right now I'm just living in the moment and doing what I want to do. I don't have a scheme but I don't want to turn around in my late thirties and wish that I had done more with bike racing. Right now I want to do as much racing as I can and if thats leads somewhere, great, I won't have any regrets. If it doesn't, I still won't have any regrets. I just turned 26. There's no time limit on getting a real job, settling down, putting some money into a bank. Theres no ticking clock for that. I can go get a job.
But I can't turn around one day when I'm 37 and think, "Hey, I want to race Philly."2
Continental teams are required to have an average age of 28. Once you get close to that age you become less and less appealing. That'd be fucking sweet to get a contract but realistically speaking, in the current job market of domestic professional cycling, it's not gonna happen. I'm enjoying the opportunities I get and have currently, I'm not looking too far ahead, I'm not preoccupied with what's next, I'm focused on the present, the here and now, I'm taking it all in.
Bike racing is expensive, New York City is expensive. It's hard to be a guy in your 20s working some job for 12 or 15 bucks an hour and racing bikes at this level. It costs too much money. We can't afford hotels, most of us don't have cars/transportation, most of us can barely afford the fancy bikes. Foundation is a place where deserving guys can get a leg up. You look at a guy like Evan, who last year was on a team where he barely got kit. This year he's had that financial pressure relieved—he can just go to these races without worrying about rent—and now look at the results he's getting. I see that as a direct result of getting the support from this team and the team saying, "We will send you to these races because we want you to succeed." The pressure is off, and he gets the results. He is a perfect example of a deserving, hard-working dude getting the leg up he needs.
We're gonna go race bikes for 120 miles and we're gonna go up a wall and people are gonna yell. It'll be good. There's no point waxing poetics about it.
Part II, detailing the race's events, will be published on 29 July.