but mainly bikes
Though it may shock students to learn, us educators do have lives outside the classroom. One of my greatest passions can be found in bicycles; I enjoy racing, riding, and fixing them.
I began riding bikes as a kid, zooming around the neighborhood and doing some sweet skids until I wore through my tires. Yet my passion for bicycles didn't full foster until I returned from studying abroad in 2003. With the help of my friend Vince, I discovered I had a knack for mountain biking (albeit the Illinois kind). As that interest grew, I expanded my collection of bikes to include road bikes, fixed gear, and eventually a cyclocross bike (though it was used as a fendered commuter only).
(Racing my single speed at Star Rock Cross in Fall 2014)
(The start of the time trial at the Rothrock You Like a Hurricane race hosted by Penn State
in Rothrock State Forest).
Racing for Penn State was thrilling, even if I was never that successful. Instead, I appreciated the bonds formed by travelling with the team across the Northeast, and racing in some absolutely silly conditions from Western Massachusetts to Philly. Racing a great release from coursework, but also served as a reward for the hard work inside the classroom.
My passion for racing grew exponentially when I finally raced cyclocross in larger, more organized fields. The underground races of State College taught me a bit about the pain of short, hard races, but the atmosphere provided by the OVCX and MAC races made the pain bearable. My girlfriend Lindsay and I raced 16 races in the Fall of 2014, mainly focusing on the PACX series. The greatest thing about PACX was a dedicated Single Speed category. SSCX allowed me to race a bike I purchased the previous year, and it even allowed me to reach the podium once or twice. Somehow I appeared to do better when limited to only one gear.
(Sometimes you even race single speed cyclocross as a Bananaphone. At Eva Bandman in Louisville, 2014)
I did not begin racing bikes until I arrived at Penn State for my PhD program. The kids in the Penn State Cycling club were super welcoming and pushed me to race. Slowly, I began to enjoy the pain and suffering that racing in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference provided. State College also provided an education with regards to #EastCoastRocks, and began to redefine what mountain biking was in my head (and my body).