Friday, September 29, 2006

half a pro

from the Latin, 'semi' means 'half', so i'm now half a pro, sounds about right. i'm half as fast as guys like Harlan, half the time i'm working a desk in downtown Boston, the other half the time i'm on my bike - and the other half of the time i'm with jenn (and Seneca). doesn't leave much time for sitting around doing nothing, but there's more than enough folks in this country doing just that, so i figure they're doing my share of doing nothing!

Dear Jeffrey Whittingham,
The following request to change your NORBA category has been approved and processed by USA Cycling:
whittij - 2006-09-12 18:47
Member: Jeffrey Whittingham
License: Cross Country Racer
Request to change category from Expert to Semipro

time to get in the "way-way-back machine"... why? 'cause by the end of all this rambling, i'm gonna thank a bunch of people.

april 3rd, 2003, just turned 28, enjoy bike commuting and hitting the woods once/wk w/friends, plenty of safety breaks. after a quiet winter, felt like life was flying-by and i was in the back doing the dishes. my racing experience consisted of a single 24hr team race in the fall of '01, watching the winner crawl onto the podium after riding 160miles was inspiring
and told myself that someday i was going to do a solo 24... but hadn't done jack shit to reach that goal. then in the spring of 2003 decided it was time.

next 3wks it rained every single day - cold, miserable, spring rain, but i loved it. i loved training for something. 3miles into my first race i was cooked, thought about quitting, but kept it going and by the end was smiling ear-to-ear, 100% hooked. finished 11th in sport class that first race. and 11th in the second race. and 11th in the third race, but was having a blast and riding my little 60min training loops like a man possessed. met some new people to ride with - Rob Follansbee, Nathan Smith, Jason Morris, Roz Puleo, the list goes on...

on the drive to my 4th race got a strange call - a fellow i could barely understand said something about knowing Jamie (the owner of my local bike shop) and to look for him... as i pulled into the parking lot at the Pinnacle, it didn't take long to spot Brad Beveridge, a total lunatic. had my first breakthrough that day - taking 3rd in Sport class on one of the toughest courses on the circuit. my confidence was through the roof, if i can make strides like this, maybe i can win a sport race someday!?

started meeting-up with Brad for rides and soon met his buddy Andy, then Justin, then Daren. they'd wait-up for me at every trailhead, super-good guys - and the #1 reason i can ride a bike. rollin' with far superior riders is the only way to get better - they taught me not only how to pick good lines, but how to fix a broken chain... they are the shit.

by the end of that first season i won a sport class race, was so stoked! in early '04 tackled a solo 24 and snagged an unexpected 3rd, bumped into guys who i'd later come to know as staples in the sport - Bob Anderson, Eddie O'Dea... had the confidence now, self-promoted to Expert at my favorite venue, The Pinnacle, and began seeing a new side to the sport - different faces, new goals... between the xc's, the 24 team events, and the enduro's, i found myself drawn to certain riders, the mellow outlook was the only way to roll.

in the winter of 2005 i trained my ass off. picked a guy i knew would be at every race to chase - a guy i admired - thom parsons. he was fast as hell and if i could hold his wheel... the first race of 2005 was a killer. the course was under water, pissing rain, i loved it and snagged my first expert podium. had some good ones in '05 - 2nd at Dalton solo 24, but also some big learning lessons - like 100% blowing-up at Jay by trying to ride with the big boys, finishing a dissapointing 30th. by the end of '05 it was clear i needed to find some new folks to race with, loved racing my hardtail and was drawn to Independent Fabrication because of Thom, their localness - and the fact that they build the most kick-ass hardtails on the planet!!

2006, well, it's been a super effin' year! do i need to summarize? sure, why not, this blogging thing is a narcissit's playground. 2 top-10 finishes in 2 100milers. 3rd at the Jay MTB. 4th at the Vermont 50. finally won an xc.
was on the box more than off. time to put Expert class behind me, you don't get faster watching the fast guys ride, you get faster riding with 'em.

can't wait for 2007, it's gonna be killa'. at 32 yrs young i'm just getting into a groove. ain't life the balls!?

thanks
to Jenn, the love of my life, for letting me ride and ride and ride and ride and ride when i should be doing chores, to Independent Fabrication for building me the most kick-ass steel hardtail on the planet, to Thom for believing in me and convincing Bruno to let me aboard, to Andy 1000 times over for being the man, to Jamie and the boyz at Western Cycle, to the Blog world, to Dave Alden for starting me off, to Rob for his advice those first cpl yrs - and to every person who's had words of encouragement vs words of doubt.

I LOVE THIS SPORT! I love this life.

4 Comments:

At 9/29/2006 6:34 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Congrats!!! You semi-pro you. You gotta love a sport that lets us travel, see incredible places, meet cool people and be able to stay skinny and enjoy beer.

Cheers and congratulation!

Jason

 
At 9/29/2006 9:38 PM, Blogger IF Chicks said...

Congrats Jeff on the awesome season and the semi-pro status...yeah !!!!! We love having you on our side !!! onward to some cross.
kc

 
At 9/30/2006 5:32 PM, Blogger Andy said...

damn, I hope I can keep up with the semi-pro!

Nice going this season Jeff. It's been an incredible ride this far and I can only see it getting better.

 
At 10/02/2006 12:01 AM, Blogger Barkernews said...

Holy Crap!

Nice work.

 

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