The last race win I had was in 2008.  I was still racing Juniors and the venue was the first Windham National.  With a 2:56 flat, I won and would have placed 4th in the pro category.  Since turning Pro, the results sheet has always been a source for thoughts of, “Lots of room for improvement” – to be lighthearted about it.  I’ve had top 5’s in Pro, which is cool I suppose, but no one races to lose.  Being realistic is important in cases of large National or International races, but local races…I should definitely have been doing a little better.  Granted, there were external factors in my personal life that hindered my ability to perform at my best, but a racer always has an excuse for poor results.
  For the past 5 years (I took 2012 off because of my job at the time), I have been been a student in the art of losing, graciously riding back to the pits one lackluster run after another, watching my friends and fellow competitors have highly successful races and seasons, with not a whole lot to show for my efforts.  We all are in it for the fun of it, but losing isn’t fun, so there are times when it becomes more of a chore than a hobby.  But, with a long off season, a lot of personal drive, and a new-found love for iron, training is winding down and the new race season is nearly here.
  It is important to start the new season off in a positive manner, which is sometimes easier said than done.  I think for 2014 I’m doing fair job of it though, as I’ve actually won something bike-related, the first [unofficial] race of the year: our annual team event.  While the racing is as grassroots as it gets, and it is just another day out with the crew, racing is always racing, and a win is always a win.  It felt good, I have to say.  To be the best on the day is always a nice boost, and it was a good soft-opening to test out if and how all the winter training paid off.
There was no fan fair, there wasn’t even a podium picture; just a slip of paper and a quick announcement of the final placings for the day.  The understated nature of the event is its greatest appeal without a doubt.  It’s a simple format: Four trails; four races; and a grand timed total like rally racing.  Being the top finisher on the day of an event like that is just as rewarding as any other win – I didn’t crash across the finish line of the first run trying for anything but a win.  I proved to myself that I can train, I can learn, and I can win.  And that personal validation is exactly the kind of progress needed to stoke the fire for the real deal.