A bit of sad news… Not like someone dying sad, much less tragic than that. The Combo Race Team, which I was privileged to be a part of for the last two years, has come to an end. The Combo Race team was a pioneer in making mountain bike racing a team sport in Ohio. It was started 5 years ago by Mitch Gay and a bunch of his buddies because they liked hanging out together at the races. The focus wasn’t about who was the fastest, it was always about camaraderie. Whether your race was good or bad, you knew that Mitch would be waiting for you at the finish line with a beer and a grilled bratwurst. There was folding chairs, a tent, a cooler and a bunch of guys to tell war stories with. I felt honored to be a part of this cool group that Mitch formed and I made a lot of great friends on the team.
So, that means that I am once again independent – racing under the Quickdirt banner. Hopefully I’ll still have the support of my readers – the fun mountain bikers in the community. It’s been a blast over the last year to meet so many new people that I never would have met if it hadn’t been for Quickdirt. For example, one time I was riding by myself at Mohican. I really had to pee badly, so I pulled over to the side of the trail to take a quick break. Suddenly a rider approached and came to a screeching halt. “Aren’t you that guy that writes the blog? James? I love it. It inspired me to sign up for my first race this year.” It was awesome to know that my words had penetrated deep into the woods of Ohio and inspired riders to take on new challenges.
The Old Me
Some of you know this about me and some of you don’t, but I had a life before being a stay-at-home-dad-mountain-bike-blogger. The majority of my professional career was spent at CNN where I worked my way up to being a producer for the their top-rated show, Larry King Live. During that time, I worked with a lot of talented colleagues who conducted themselves with the highest journalistic standards. When I decided to start Quickdirt, I wanted it to be a place to tell stories about cycling life – the people, the bikes, the trails and events that I find interesting. I wanted to take the journalistic ideals that I had learned and apply them to my passion.
Where Has the Focus Been?
There have been several themes that have dominated my blog over the last year. For starters, I was trying to figure out how to race faster, and whereas most racers like to keep their training secret, I wanted to be an open book so that you could see what I was doing and see whether it was working or not. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, but we all learned together.
I also wanted to promote the OMBC – Ohio Mountain Bike Championship. It is my favorite race series and the focus of most of my training. Attendance was up this year and I know that I inspired several first time racers to take a chance on signing up. Hopefully, I can continue to help grow this community because the racers that I have met are awesome and I’m a more-the-merrier kind of guy.
One big source of pride for me is that I’ve highlighted racers from all over the State of Ohio like Ben Ortt, Heidi Shilling, Jeff Rupnow & Nahum Burt. Why? Because these people are interesting to me and I felt like my readers could learn a lot from the Q&A’s that I did with them. My plan is to keep showcasing more talented riders in the coming year – Rusty Brown, Kenny Kocarek – I’m looking at you guys! 🙂 Who do you think would be fun to hear from?
I’ve shown off a few cool bikes that my friends bought too – mmm… bike porn.
Further, I’ve always thought that promoting C.O.M.B.O. and other trail-building organizations like Camba, Cora, Mohican Malabar Bike Club and Appalachian Outdoor Adventures was important. (Who am I forgetting? Give them a shoutout in the comment section.) Without these folks we would have no place to ride. I hope everyone will spend at least a few hours volunteering on the trails this year. Let’s work on making Ohio one of the best mountain bike destinations in the country. I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on several meetings with Combo and I know that they working on some cool opportunities for Central Ohio.
So, while I have been a mountain bike journalist, I have also used that platform for advocacy.
But what I really want… I basically just want a bunch of cool folks to race with, a place where we can ride and explore, trails where we can ride our butts off, a world where we can share a post-ride beer with buddies, a group that gives back to the community more than it takes. …and I plan to continue promoting those ideals through 2015.
The Challenge for Me This Year
I recently signed up for business classes at Columbus State. I’m preparing for when I return to the working world in 2017. However, the classes involve reading and homework and will probably take away from my time for writing on Quickdirt. Last summer, I made it a goal to post at least once a week. This year, I am aiming to post at least once every two weeks. Hopefully more, but I’m not making any promises. Classes come first. I hope you will continue to join me in my journey this year even if it is slightly less frequently.
What are my goals?
- Race expert in the OMBC series for the first time ever and beat my nemesis.
- Complete the Tri State 6 Hours Series
- Ride my bike across the State of Ohio along the Ohio to Erie trail?
- Finish the Mohican 100
- Compete in at least one criterium
- Have Fun!
Although I am sad that Combo Race Team came to an end, I am happy that I get to keep racing in 2015. Please make sure to say “Hi” at the races. I love getting to meet people through Quickdirt. Also, let me know if your shop or team that would like to partner with Quickdirt for the upcoming season. It would be fun to have a cool, group of riders to hang out with.
What would you like to read about in 2015? Which articles have been the most helpful or interesting? What are your goals this year?