With how close I lived to the Valley Preferred Cycling center growing up it's really no surprise that I found track cycling, or maybe it was that track cycling found me. Or perhaps it was just something in the water in Trexlertown that made the perfect recipe for track cyclists. No matter what the source, it was certainly fate that track cycling would become my life. My introduction to Velodrome riding and racing came from the pure luck of having a Trexlertown zip code. A major international chemical and gas company, Air Products, headquartered in Trexlertown less than 1 mile from the velodrome, was also the title sponsor of the community programs for the then Lehigh Valley Velodrome. In an effort to promote community involvement in the local velodrome, Air Products sent out brochures to everyone in the community with full details of the beginner to advanced programs offered free of charge at the track. I was 7 years old when we received the brochure in the mail and decided to enroll me in the PeeWee Pedalers program for the summer. The PeeWee Pedalers program was designed to teach bike safety and handling skills to kids on their own non-training wheeled bikes. After learning a thing or two about bike safety all I wanted to do was get out on the track and head straight to the top of the track then turn downhill and accelerate as fast as I could to get going as fast as possible. That should have been a sure sign I was going to have an insatiable need for speed!
After 2 years of PeeWee's, at the age of 9, I had graduated to the youth development classes offered and I immediately enlisted. The development classes were great because I finally got to use a proper track bike with drop bars and a fixed gear. The sessions were longer and the instruction centered around racing, which I was extremely excited about. Every day I'd head out and grab my loaner bike from the bike room and head out to the track with two things on my mind: speed and winning. Every day was a new set of races to test out and try to master. Then at the end of the summer all of the participants were grouped together by age and had one final night of competition to determine who would be crowned Air Products Champion for the year. But even better than the prospect of being crowned champion was the fact that the Air Products Finals always took place on a Friday
Night under the lights with us racing in between the pro's!!! I would go on to win the Air Products finals on a number of occasions but I can honestly say that looking back on it now, it wasn't the winning that I enjoyed the most, but competing on the same track, at the same time as multiple World and Olympic Champions! That ability to meet and compete with the most elite of the sport on any given Friday is still one of the single greatest aspects of track racing in my mind.
Then in 1997, at the age of 12, the Jr. National Championships came to Trexlertown. At this point I was the best in my age group locally, but the thought of having to compete against everyone else from across the nation for a national title scared the hell out of me. But after 3 days and a mountain of nerves later I came away as the Boy's 10-12 Omnium National Champion! From this point on I was hooked for life! For a long time cycling was all about how many wins I could accumulate and to that end I had great success. But after 16+ years of National Championship level or above competition, I've truly come to understand that cycling is a life changing and lifelong sport that will give you more than you could ever imagine. Over my cycling career I've seen parts of the world I would have never dreamed of and met people and shared experiences that are simply unforgettable. But my biggest take away so far is that the more you give, the more you get. So now in addition to the pursuit of my own Olympic aspirations I blend in coaching and teaching about cycling at all levels to anyone interested and willing to share in my passion. I am truly blessed to have found cycling and for all the wonderful people and experiences it has brought into my life. Thank you for stopping by my site and sharing in my Olympic and cycling infused journey!