Seems that I am ready to race, or at least try. Last weekend didn't happen as the course is very dangerous and my surgeon wouldn't like to hear that I crashed. So tomorrow I'll drive out to Fremont and surf the rear of the pack at the Early Bird Road Race.
In many respects I am glad the last decade is over. I spent 8 years of it in college, and one year as a lazy bum/blockbuster employee, and the last a pro...Mechanical Engineer/science project. The decision to go to grad school at SJSU was the smartest decision I have made in my entire life, and one I will never regret. There were things I wish I had done prior to August 2006 which may have altered my course, but I'm glad I didn't and screw up what I have now...hope. Below is a top 10 countdown of my personal best moments of the "Aughts" (2000-2009).
10. Graduating UH-Mechanical Engineering Bachelors degree May 2004: It was quite an achievement, one of persistence/perseverance. Those were some good times and some stressful times. It's not higher because it has minimal impact on my present course other than allowing me to go further later. I didn't have a job lined up unlike most of my friends and basically languished until I sent my papers to SJSU.
9. Waking Up From A Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Nov 5th 2009): When the lights go out for a surgery it never goes black, just everything fades to white.... slowly, and an instant later you open your eyes and the reverse happens. This is instant was 9 hours later, and though the risk of never seeing this world again was only <1%, the chance is always there. My theory is nothing doesn't exist and my 6th surgical procedure of 2009 reasserted my belief.
8. State Criterium Championship 2000 (July 9th 2000): I broke away with about 20 minutes to go in my first top category Criterium Championship race, and never saw the pack again. It was the only race when I had time to celebrate my victory (all my other wins were sprints). If I had any doubt what my passion would be for the rest of this life it was erased in 20 minutes, forever.
7. Olomana Road Race victory (7/25/2004): Just a month earlier in California I had a magor wreck in my first Pro1/2 race, and while coming back in just a week, I DNF'd the Cascade Classic in 20 miles...I basically was questioning why I cared so much about cycling. I flew home skipping out on my desire to race in Superweek. I still couldn't find a job, but cycling is great therapy, and rode my butt back into shape. I raced my typical attack almost every lap style at Olomana, and again destroyed that sprint and won.
6. Job Offer From BAE (March 2008): I got a FEDEX letter at the SJSU dorm mailroom from BAE, after the interview I was skeptical about getting an offer. I was planning on heading to Seattle for another job at the Shipyard in Bremerton. I open the letter and what do you know.... and they are going to pay me how much? And I get to stay here! Sweet. The best thing is I get to use Pro-E....
5.Graduating SJSU Master's of Science Mechanical Engineering (May 2008): Honestly UH was harder for me, but this opened so many doors, and something I never expected. Truthfully, a Master's degree at UH wouldn't have helped much other than a pay raise in an HVAC job...
4. Hawaii's win over SJSU @ Spartan Stadium (October 2007): I sat in the SJSU students section holding my tongue for over 3 hours, but than Colt Brennan ran in that touchdown in overtime and that was it.... I moved not to get killed....then that pass was deflected, and it was pandamonium!!! I was walking around chanting BCS around all the Hawaii fans. That game was the most memorable of that 12-0 Hawaii run to the Sugar Bowl. And I WAS THERE. Hawaii Warrior for life.
3. Winning BAR jersey 2002: I was en fuego in 2002. I won Tantalus (my one and only time), Kalaeloa, Olomana, the State Crit, 2nd at Dick Evans, State RR, Cycle To The Sun, Hard Rock Crit, and raced a bunch in the mainland for the first time. I wasn't the smartest racer back then, and wished I could have bottled that form I had. Because I recall not following Ray when he attacked on Makapuu when I could have easily followed him and dusted him in the sprint, now unfortunately all I have are memories (if they could find a way for use to relive them, it'd be awesome)
2. Haleakala and Dick Evans 2009: On August 17th 2009 I had my 4th ERCP.... and was doubting why I was going to ride up a 36 mile long climb. I flew to Maui anyway and my mom tagged along. The day before I rode up about 9 miles of it, and was feeling okay. My strategy was to follow wheels and not waste energy. Unfortunately I woke up feeling great! And my strategy almost flew out the window after a slow start to the race made me itchy to really race. I settled down and rode the most out of body race of my life. It wasn't until 9000 feet when reality kciked into my Calves and Ray and the annoying Japanese old man rode away. I crossed the line in third grinning ear to ear. 2 weeks later it was dejavu at Dick Evans. I felt awful for much of the race, and had another flat. That's to Mark Little who gave up his wheel I didn't have to expend too much energy. I felt awful all the way through the last feed zone, but then the 7th hammer gel kicked in, and damn... it was on! I couldn't shake 4 other guys and my ever degenerating sprint ability failed me, but I was again grinning ear to ear. All I thought the last 20K was "I can't believe my body is letting me do this!"
1. Dick Evans Memorial Road Race 2007: I finally won that bugger. I remember so many years being in the final group thinking "I'm going to win this!" And choking in the end. This year I made damn sure I'd be in the final group, suffering like I never had (especially after another flat tire....). I remember the pain following Alex Eiler's attack up Makapuu. I remember Alex complaining about me not pulling through with 1K to go. I remember going into that final corner, hesitating for a second and they saying to myself "Go NOW!!" I remember the burning in my legs give way to elation when no one passed me before I hit to finish line. It was over, the monkey was off my back.