So I’ve been asked to write a column for peloton
. It’s going to be more or less about cyclocross racing. But first I have to jam an introduction in here. There are things about me that I want you to know.
Back in 2009, I raced my first season of cyclocross. I was working as a bike messenger in New York City and sort of dabbling in racing. I was one of those guys you might see pedaling around with a huge bag on his back, blasting through a red light in a totally unjustified rush to get someone else’s crap somewhere fast. (In case you’re wondering, I stop at lights now.) But all that experience dodging cabs, car doors, seemingly blind pedestrians, and potholes made me pretty good at turning my bike, and I found early success winning a half-dozen cyclocross races, the MAC
B series, and getting my category-one upgrade. (You can read more about that season here
Then in the off-season I kind of forgot about it all.
Sometime in May I got an email from this guy I used to know from when I worked in a bike shop during high school. The shop was called the Bike Stand
, and every Friday a group of older guys who called themselves the Fat Men would come in and drink beer and hang out. They were my first riding group and they would take me out on weekend rides, even though I rode a fixie and wore cut-off shorts. So this guy Mike emails me out of the blue and asks whether I have any interest in racing cyclocross for Richard Sachs
. These guys pooled some money together and sponsored Richie’s team for a few seasons, so they kind of had an in. Naturally, I said yes.
But it didn’t work out. The team was already full, and, despite my success in the lower categories, I had no experience in New England UCI fields. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Eric Schillinger, of NYCROSS
, who agreed to support me in my rookie season in the elites. It went well: I scored four top 10s in UCI elite fields and managed to scrape together a trip to Bend, Oregon, for nationals.
That May I sent Richie a bunch of emails, pretty much begging to be on the team. It took some back-and-forth, but finally I got a message saying that myself and Josh Dillon “would carry the load.” There was no contract, no rider agreement to read, and no negotiating. He told me only that the team was “fully sponsored and well-oiled.” And all I knew was that I wanted to be a part of it.
That was more than two years ago, and I’m about to start my third season racing for Richard Sachs. But this year I’ll be doing something new: writing about it here on pelotonmagazine.com. I’m still not sure exactly how this is going to go, but I can at least promise you that I will not bore you with blow-by-blow race reports.
This coming weekend the team heads to Vermont for a pair of UCI races at the Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend. So next week you can expect a column about something to do with that.
This race sticks out in my memory as the first in-person conversation I had with Richie. I was packing up a car that I had borrowed for the weekend from my mom, and I was parked next to where the Sachs team had set up camp. Richie and I were making small talk, and I said something off-hand along the lines of, “Oh well. Back to the real world.” Richie immediately corrected me. He explained this right here, where we were now, at the race venue, was the real world. It could have been just one of those weird things that Richie says, or it could have been the most truthful thing anyone has ever said to me. Either way, it has stuck with me this whole time. And it might help explain why I’m always counting the days until cyclocross season.
In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram—at @danchabanov—and ask me ridiculous questions on my blog at bonedeth
Stick around. It should be a fun season.