2015 is going to be a big year. I’m turning 50 and I decided to take a big step this next year. I’m going to start racing. Not just riding, but racing. So why am I taking up racing at 50?

I started riding when my weight topped out at 230 lb. I was over 200 pounds. I couldn’t believe it. I knew I needed to do something so I started riding. After two years of ride, I have managed to keep the weight off.

To stay motivated, I’ve entered a number of charity rides. Each one I would push myself a little harder and a little farther. I’ve completed a 30 mile,100k ride, and two century rides. But I started to get worried that just adding distance wouldn’t be enough to keep me going.

So I started toying with the idea to start racing. But the whole process seems so daunting. I’ve run in some running events where you just enter the race and run. But racing in cycling you are required to get a license with USA Cycling. An official cycling license. Just like the pros. It just seems so intimidating.

I decided that I was going to do it. But where do I start? First I need to get on a team. I joined a bike club down in Fayetteville, Health South Racing/Phat Tire bike club. But I soon found out that 8:00 am rides in Fayetteville weren’t really realistic for me. I found a beginning group in Bentonville Saturday morning that worked out great. Nice bunch of guys and they were about my speed. After riding a summer with them I managed to get my speed up from around 15 mph to 16-17 mph.

Then in November, I got an email from the team asking who was going to race in Cat 5 this year. They were going to start training the Cat 5 guys and I thought this would be a great time for me to start.

A little background. In racing the groups are broken into categories. 1 through 5, Cat 1 being the best riders. Everyone who begins racing has to start in Cat 5 group. So this dumping ground can have all levels for skills, fast riders and slow riders like me. The thing is, winning doesn’t matter in this group. the way you move up in just starting 10 mass start races. They do this so that people can get experience. Learn how to ride in groups, learn tactics, etc. So this is where I’ll be for a while.

I have gone on some rides with the team. The couple base mile rides we’ve done, slow 16-17 mph, i’ve been able to hang fairly well. I’ve gotten dropped on the big climbs. But that’s to be expected. I did do a training team ride. This ride I knew I was going to get dropped. All these guys riding in December are strong riders. I don’t know their categories, I know one guy raced Cat 5 last year and I think he’s racing it again, but they are strong. I just try to hang with them as long as I can.

So I’ve started training and on January 1 I’m going to get my race card. We’ll just have to see what happens. I’ve pretty nervous, downright scared. But I’ll take it one step at a time and one ride at a time. Next up the plan.