I didn’t come to cycling until I was already in my 20’s. Of course I had bikes when I was a kid, but my use thereof was mostly around our cul de sac or on the occasional family trip.
Most people I meet are surprised to find I was overweight most of my life. I just didn’t take to sports that were popular with other kids; I was signed up for – and subsequently hated – both soccer and t-ball by my parents when I was in elementary school. I was too confused for football and too uncoordinated for basketball. I had a brief fling with hockey when I was in middle school, but I think most of my enjoyment was from my already-adult stature finally having a practical use, namely bowling over the pipsqueak kids who made fun of me at school.
I tried body-building in high school, but my weight didn’t change much. The day I graduated from high school I think I weighed in around 255.
It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year of college in Philadelphia that I started riding a bike. I had developed psoriatic arthritis and walking to and from campus had become more painful than I could deal with so a bike seemed an ideal way to get there. The bike was some heavy hunk of junk from Target, but it did the trick. I rode to school the whole summer, even after my parents’ insurance finally agreed to pay for the medication that alleviated my symptoms. I started going out for longer rides along the Schuylkill River on the weekends.
Halfway through my junior year of college said hunk of junk was stolen from the bike rack in front of the gallery I was interning at, which nicely coincided with a trend that I had noticed all the cool kids picking up on: fixies. I got a cheap steel single speed, and kept riding. After a few months I got tired of the frame flexing under me (I was still fluctuating 10-15 lbs a year) so I sold it to build up my first real bike:I rode (and still ride) this thing everywhere. Fast forward a year and one of my fraternity brothers got the cycling bug and we started doing 50-60 mile round trips 2-3 times a week, him on a converted hybrid, me on my fixie. I started eating healthier and the weight started falling away. Right after we graduated we did a metric century, and despite two flats, I still finished 45 minutes after him.
I was hooked. As soon as I got home I called my parents and told them I wanted to split the cost of a roadbike for my graduation present. I even started shaving my legs and wearing lycra.
I figured I’d give racing a try, thinking that if I could keep up with “roadies” on my fixie, I could probably outpace them on a real road bike. As I suspect is the case with most beginning cyclists, this proved to be 80% hubris and 20% actual leg power. I sucked, but I found I didn’t care that much- I’d finally found a sport that I enjoyed, even if I was finishing nearly dead last most of the time.
When I moved back to Florida to work on my grad school applications, I kept racing and with more free time to train, it turned out I wasn’t half bad (I just wasn’t half good either).
I moved to Chicago in August 2012 to pursue a masters degree in arts education, hoping that I’d be able to find a friendly team to ride and train with, and to continue improving as a newly minted cat 4.
After riding with XXX a few weekends in a row and trying unsuccessfully to ride with Half Acre, I happened upon the Spidermonkey website and showed up for a Sunday ride where I met Geoff. I went on a Saturday ride later that month and met Drew and Roxanne. After only two rides, I knew I wanted to be part of this team- the people were friendly and the kits were cool. The past year has been busy but awesome, thanks guys.