I must have been 14 when, for an 8th grade English class project, I wrote Roland Green, the reigning MTB World Champion. The letter was to be written to a celebrity of sorts and while everyone else was typing letters addressed to Hollywood and teen idol Brittney Spears, I wrote to a cyclist, no one else at Cashmere Middle School had ever heard of. He ended up writing a letter back, scratched out on a piece of computer paper, which ended up on my bedroom wall, alongside signed posters of Roland’s Trek-VW teammate Bishop, a younger Adam Craig, GT posters of Todd Wells, and I think I probably had a JHK edition too, from his days on Polo-RLX.
I ended up meeting Roland green later that year, at the Schweitzer Mountain NORBA race in Idaho, I think he won the XC in front of Ryder Hesjedal… I caught up with him briefly before the podium ceremony and told him how I admired him, and refreshed his memory about the letter… that was the weekend of my first Junior Expert Race too, I got lapped and caught by the girls, finishing 21st I think, probably DFL.
Right now I am flying back to Denver after an incredibly successful weekend in Fontana…. I guess 8 years have gone by since that letter. Todd Wells is sitting across the isle, its humbling to consider him a friend now, along with JHK, Sam Schultz, Craig and Bishop too. He is rocking a custom shirt he got fo
r winning US XC, Short Track and Cyclo-cross nationals in the same season. A pretty impressive feat… someday I hope I can achieve something of that magnitude.
Yesterday in the Fontana Short Track I was able to attack Wells, Schultz and Bishop on the final lap. They couldn’t, follow. I bridged to Kabush and Taberlay… I attacked on the final climb. They couldn’t follow! I put my head down, trying to catch JHK’s wheel, and was able to hold on to finish 3rd.
I remember shaking with excitement as we all rode around the finish paddock, catching our collective breath. The trials and frustrations of the weekends travel evaporating; broken-down vehicles, missed flights, and midnight arrivals. Two early mornings and a bittersweet XC race, going from 8th to 12th because of three flat tires.
I hardly remember the podium ceremony… I was focused on insuring I didn’t mess it up… I was unsure what to do with my arms… I whacked Todd in the head a couple times, and nearly fell off the blocks at the end while we all squeezed up on top.
Of course everyone congratulated me, and I returned the gesture… I’d never talked to Plaxton or Taberlay before, but for those brief moments I felt like an equal with the riders I had idolized growing up…. Perhaps that’s what I am becoming.
check out my post race interview with Colt from cyclingdirt.org