New Year

With the start of the new year it is a great time to reflect on the year that has just come to a close and plan for the year that just started. 2013 was a great year for me! It included a win a the Revolution in Scotland, bronze medal at Pan-American championships, numerous wins in front of a hometown crowd at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, four Elite national Championship titles and  Two Collegiate National Championship Titles. Overall it has been a great year of racing and I have made some great progress towards the ultimate goal of the 2016 Olympics in Rio. I would like to thank to thank everyone who has helped me along the way from my parents and family to my amazing sponsors and team, I could not have done it without you. Matt Pre Race

This year also marked my first semester at the main campus of Penn State where I will finish my degree in Electrical Engineering. It has been a very good experience for me to live on my own and away from home but not one of a typical college student. My days start at 6am when the alarm clock goes off and doesn’t end until 10pm. I am in the gym on campus by 7:30 each morning for a lifting session or a bike workout on the trainer or rollers. Following the mornings workout I have class from ten to 5:30 most days. After a short commute to my apartment on the bike it’s dinner time then studying and homework with a little Recovery Pump session before bed. Not the most ideal training schedule but I make it work.  Now I only have two semesters left to get my degree but I will end up pushing one of those off until after the games.

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2013 was a year of changes for me from a new campus and “home” to new training regiments. One of the biggest and most beneficial changes I had this year was starting to train with Tim Moyer and his team at Nexgen High Performance Training center. Tim writes my strength program and guides my work in the gym. I have made some huge improvements since I started working with him in March of last year. I am looking forward to many more killer workouts with the Nexgen family. Check them out: Nexgen

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I look forward to building on the successes I had in 2013 this year. It will be a big year for me with a lot more new changes as I go all in for Rio. I could not continue to do what I love and chase the Olympic dream without my team of sponsors behind. A huge thank you to: Felt Bikes, K’NEX brands, Recovery Pump, Oakley, Pure Energy Cycling and Powerbar.  I would like to make a special thanks to the sponsors who came on board in 2013: Nexgen High Performance Training Center, 3T Cycling, Bont cycling shoes, Atomic High Performance and Vie 13 Kustom Cycling Apparel.

Camp and US Grand Prix of Sprinting

I spent this past week in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training center with USA Cycling for a Sprint development camp. The camp was to identify and develop some of the young sprinting talent in the country. I was blown away with the number of talented young riders who wanted to pursue sprinting. It was a great week working with the younger racers and helping to develop their sprinting tactics and form. The whole week I was doing some pre-race prep for the US Grand Prix of Sprinting this past weekend. I got a great surprise on Thursday at the Training Center. Andy at Atomic coatings had finished my chain and cogs and overnighted them to me so I could use them in the tt. The cogs and chain were amazing and noticeably cut down on the resistance on the bike. They also made the bike extremely quiet. I was immensely surprised with just how big of a difference the cogs and chain made. If you are serious about getting the absolute most performance out of your bike you owe it to yourself to give the guys at Atomic a call.IMG_20130711_113543

The racing kicked off on Friday morning with the 200m qualifying tt. I was given final ride so I went off last for the 200m. My goal for the trip was to turn a sub 10s 200m. I was able to do this and beat my old PR from Mexico City with a 9.95s. This qualified me third with Bernard first, Kevin second and J in fourth. The top four were all under 10s and all on Felt bikes, pretty amazing.

The first round of sprints went really well and I moved on to the quarter finals that evening. The quarter finals did not go nearly as planned. I raced Joe from Canada who is a great racer and an awesome guy. We were coming down to the line and I was flying over the top passing him when he came up to the top of the sprinters lane and his elbow caught my arm. This caused him to lose control and he fell really hard. I wish Joe all the best on a speedy recovery and I can’t wait for him to be back on the bike so we can race some more. I sadly was relegated on the ride with a poor call from the officials (I can back it up with photos). Though I was upset about the relegation I was really upset to see Joe get injured. The relegation put me into the 5-8 ride. I took out all of my frustrations in that ride and took it pretty easily with a textbook ride proving I did not belong there.

The next session started Saturday morning with team sprint. I teamed up with Nate and Kevin for team sprint. After waiting around for over four hours more than we anticipated we finally went off for team sprint. The start was less than perfect with Kevin and I both having some issues with the people holding us. But we both got on and turned a decent time. Thankfully the time was just enough to take the win over the Mexican team. After a quick nap and food the evening session kicked off with keirin. The session was delayed from the start due to some rain. Once the rain cleared up we began racing immediately which cut warm-up very short. Thankfully I spun on the rollers in the bike room during the delay. The first round of keirin went off with out a hitch except for the nasty headwind on the back-straight. The wind became a major factor for the entire evening of racing but the rain stayed away. The semi final ride went just like the qualifying heat and I lead it out even through the wind to stay out of the crap in the back. I knew the final was going to be a crazy ride. Bernard had lead out all of his rides and it looked like he would do the same in the final. My plan was to get his wheel and try to pass him coming out of the last turn. Right off the start I got Bernard’s wheel and all looked good. Once the motor pulled off though it went to crap. J was able to thread his way infront of me and take second wheel. This caused me to change the tactics for the race. I finagled my way out of being boxed in and made a huge run on J and Bernard coming out of turn two. I went right over the top and was able to get by Bernard coming out of turn four to take the win. It was a sick ride and really made me realize why I love this crazy sport.

Although I had some very unfortunate luck at times during the week, overall it was a great camp and race. I had awesome time meeting and working with the camp guys and working with the coaches Travis and Abers. A huge thank you to Jamie Staff and USA cycling for the amazing opportunity and support through the camp. Also a big thanks to everyone who made the US Grand Prix of Sprinting such a great event. I am really excited to come back next year. I’m back home now and will be racing at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center this Friday in the Golden wheel race. I am looking forward to seeing all the camp juniors next week at Junior Nationals here in T-town, Goodluck guys!

Sprint Month

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The month of June has always been the kickoff to the race season in T-town and the summer of racing for me. This year June was better than usual since the first three weeks were all major sprint events. The first race was the US Sprint grand Prix and proved to be a great night of racing. The lead up to the event was great with a press conference and interviews about the battle between myself and Jon Paul from great Britain that would play out on the track. Friday looked ominous all week due to rain and the racing was postponed to Saturday night. The event kicked off on Saturday evening with the qualifying 200m times. My time ended up being fastest with a 10.51. Who would have thought that I would ever go into a sprint tournament with the fastest 200. The sprint rounds started off well and both JP and myself moved through to the final round. The final came down to the wire in both rides but I was able to best him and take the win.500x464

The second week of racing was Keirin Cup which is by far my favorite event of the year. I went into the event with a little added pressure since I was defending champion in the event and a bunch of fast international guys arrived earlier that week. Keirin Cup started with a bang with some great rides and close finishes in the heats. I was able to move through to the final which turned out to very stacked field of Olympians and great international riders from Canada, Netherlands and GB to name a few.500x480

The final started out pretty crazy with the Canadian racer making an early move and leading out the sprint with a quick effort right off the motor. I was able to draft off him and then make my move with a lap to go. The early sprint allowed me to be in a great position and take the win with a long sprint. The third week of racing was by far the most challenging and highly contested. The UCI Festival of Speed combined both a sprint tournament and keirin for us all in one day. The day started off with the 200m TT and preliminary rounds of sprints. The 200m went pretty well but the time was not great due to some tough conditions which slowed everyone down. I ended up third after the 200m with J leading and Kevin second. The first rounds went off without a hitch for me. They proved to be very entertaining though as Kevin and one of the Trinidad riders duked it out in animated few rounds.Matt Pre Race

The evening session started off with the semifinal ride. I faced off against Kevin and was able to take the win and move on to the final. In the final I faced J and we had two very close rides both came down to a photo finish. Thank god there was a guy with the finish line cam app on his Ipad to verify the results. I ended up losing both rides to J by the slimmest of margins. I was a little disappointed but I really learned a ton from the rides and could not wait to rematch J in Colorado in a few weeks. With a little rest we started the keirin and just rode semis and finals. I was able to move through the semis without an issue and was ready for battle in the final. The final was another animated ride. I took the motor and J followed right on my wheel. When it pulled off one of the Americans riders, Jon came around the outside with a huge effort. I kept him on my hip and used him to keep the rest of the pack in check. On the last lap I really hit it and opened up a gap that J followed right away. We flew down the back-straight and I gave it all I had. I was able to hold off J’s charge from behind and took the win. The month of June was a great month of racing in T-town. It is always awesome to race in front of a hometown crowd and perform well. It was a very tough month for me but getting through it made me stronger and gave me a bigger purpose in riding. Off the Colorado next for the US Grand Prix of Sprinting.

Building for the Future

With the conclusion of the Pan American Championships and the Revolution my track season for this year was officially over. I had two weeks off to enjoy life again and do all the things I can’t do while I am training when I got back. Needless to say all my “off” time was spent catching up on missed school work and getting back into the swing of things at home. It was nice to finally update the blog and get to talk to friends again. Right now my training has started again and is back to full gas. With only 1218 days until the Rio Olympics I need to make use of every opportunity I have. I am building on the support system I have right now and expanding it to get the necessary support and help to carry me through to the Games and hopefully beyond. I sat down with my coach (also my dad) this week and we are working off a fresh slate now to figure out exactly what I need to get me where I need to go. I am looking at some amazing opportunities in front of me and I want to use them to their fullest potential. I know what I have been doing is working so it is just a matter of building on that to get me to the next level, this is only the beginning.

I am really happy to be partnered with so many amazing people and companies, some I’ll mention here others I’ll write about in the coming weeks. I cannot thank Felt Bikes and Doug Martin enough for supporting me with all aspects of my cycling career by providing me hands down the best bikes on the track and road today. Very pleased to be a member of the Felt family for the foreseeable future.

I am also very excited to say I will be representing K’NEX again this season. They are a great company that has been supporting me for a number of years now. I am very thankful to have their support and to be a part of the K’NEX family. If you have never heard of K’NEX they are a toy company based out of Pennsylvania that produces my favorite childhood toy. It is awesome to know that K’NEX are made right in Hatfield, PA and have gotten to see first hand the state of the art manufacturing process.

Recently I have also begun working with a new strength coach at an awesome gym near my home. Tim Moyer and the guys at NexGen are amazing. We are in the process of revamping my training schedule and a bit of the methodology to get the most out of every workout. Very happy to be working with such knowledgeable guys as Tim and his staff. Looking forward to some awesome gains in the gym and also on the bike! If you are in the area check out NexGen in Telford, PA. It is an athlete focused gym with some great coaches and staff applying the best training techniques to athletes of all ages and abilities. It also helps to have a state of the art facility to train out of. Check them out at: www.nexgenhptc.com

I have a lot of work to do to get where I need to go but I am progressing really well and seeing the results which makes it all worth it. Right now it is time for a huge training block before the summer race season hits. It is a very exciting time for me as I am surrounding myself with a great support system to help me get where I need to go! I can’t thank my supports and followers enough, especially my parents and family without you guys I would not be anywhere close to where I am.

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today” – Malcom X

Pan-Am Championships: Recap

I started off my first elite International race with the Pan- American Championships in Mexico City a few weeks ago. The racing and experience was great! The trip started off a little tough though when we drove around for an hour or two with a van drover who only spoke Spanish trying to figure out which hotel was ours. In case you didn’t know Canadians can’t speak Spanish at all, sorry Trav. After that little in-devour we settled into the hotel and tried to walk to the track to build bikes and ride rollers. We walked for a while and found a track, only problem was it was the old Olympic track that was outside. After walking through the rain for an hour we got back to the hotel to learn the track we were supposed to go to was 1k in the opposite direction.

Keirin Semi-Final

After an interesting first day everything settled down a bit. We had one day on the track before racing started and used it to get ready to race. The track was awesome, small building with no spectator seating but a nice fast race surface and some crazy altitude. All our times were crazy quick on the track but so were everyone else’s.

The event started off for me with team sprint where I joined my teammates Nate and Kevin. We set a great time in qualifying and qualified fourth in the morning session. At the time we had no idea what the time actually we only learned it was a new National Record after when we were about to head back to the hotel. We were all pretty stoked to learn that the time was that good but we still had the final to go. We rode the bronze medal final against Columbia and pulled off the win to get bronze. We all were very happy with the result and kept the momentum going into the rest of the week.

Team Sprint Boys and Trav

Next up for me was the keirin, my favorite event. It was a completely different keirin than I had ever ridden in my career. The South American style of racing is very different than what I was used to but ultimately staying patient and riding smart paid off. In the heats I got boxed in but waited it out and was able to move out and go through to the semis. The semi final ride was crazy with a crash and all kinds of bumping but I was able to ride through to the final. The final was a totally different story. I had great position from the start but the Colombian guys moved up and took the first two spots almost too easily and put me in a tough spot. I had to make a big move early and decided the only way by them was to go right off the motor. When the motor pulled off I put a huge effort in and took the front. I tried to let one guy by to get a draft and did but ultimately the move was a bit too early and I could not hold on to the end. I was able to hang onto fifth though. Ultimately this was a pretty good start for me in the international level of cycling.

Keirin Racing

My last event was the sprints and I really had one goal going in. That was to go under 10.0s in the 200m. I was able to do it with a 9.98s 200m tt. Although it was not close to the national record I was really pleased to be only the third American to go under 10.0. This time placed me in 11th. The first rounds of sprints went great and I moved through to the quarter finals. The quarterfinal rides did not go perfectly and I ended up loosing the third ride by less than an inch. I made some mistakes in my rides but I can learn from them and make my next ride better. I ended up sixth in the sprints after the final.

Team Sprint guys rocking the Good Karma Racing Shirts and hardware

The entire trip was a great experience for me and was a great first elite level international trip for me. I learned a ton from this trip both on and off the bike. It was great to be in Mexico with an awesome team and staff around me. Big thanks to USA Cycling and their awesome staff on the trip from Jamie, Travis and Ben to Viggo. Special shout out to Trav for filling in for Jamie when he was sick for most of the trip and also not flipping out when the drug testing guy spilled my pee all over his leg. The rest of the team was great to hang out with and get to know them all. I am really looking forward to more trips ahead with the team sprint guys. We all learned when the Mexican chef says the salsa is hot it is HOT!!

Revolution Recap

The Revolution and entire trip to Scotland earlier this month was an awesome one! Some great racing with a huge crowd and even better people made it all one of the most fun trips I have had riding a bike.

Victory lap after the keirin.Photo by Gringo Rojo.

Victory lap after the keirin.
Photo by Gringo Rojo.

The trip started with meeting up with Kevin Mansker in Newark and flying overnight to Glasgow. The flight is surprisingly short and easy. Once in Glasgow we had two days before the race to get ready to go and even got to explore the city a bit. This was really cool for both of us since we normally only see the airport hotel and track when we travel to races. We of course had our down time in the hotel doing absolutely nothing just like every trip. I even broke out the school work I was going to miss. Ended up finishing a circuit design lab the night before the race, not many athletes do that as part of their race routine.

Racing started off really well with rider introductions in front of a packed arena of fans. It is always nice to go to a competition and have them pronounce your name perfectly on the PA as they introduce you. We kicked off the nights racing with the flying 200m tt. I turned a 10.53 which was pretty good for me and seeded second behind Jon Paul. Following the 200 was the sprint tournament. I was able to move through to the final round against JP. I was pretty pumped for this ride a little rematch from Jr. Worlds a few years ago. I had a great ride and bested JP at the line taking the sprints and kicking the night off on a great note!

The second race for us on the night was the keirin. I was really pumped to see how this was going to pan out with five GB riders and 3 foreigners it could have gone any number of ways. I ended up getting second wheel back from the motor and kept it through the derny pulling off. Matt lead it out right off the motor and the rush came with a lap and a half to go. I was able to get out and make the pass before the rush from behind boxed me in and take the lead on the last lap. I held it through the line fending off JP charging over the top.

We finished an awesome night of racing off with the Scotland vs the rest of the world Team Sprint. This was a bit of a tough event, with no countdown or beeps just going off the gunshot my start was awful. I was able to salvage it and catch on in time to turn a decent man 2 lap. Kevin pulled through for the final leg to give us the win and cap off a perfect night of racing in style.

After racing we packed up our bikes and got everything together to go back to the states the next morning. We met up with some of the local guys who helped put the race on in the hotel lobby later that night. They were characters and gave Kevin and I an education in all aspects of life. It was a great chat and some awesome laughs. Very happy we got to meet up with Luj, Kyleigh and the gang, you guys were awesome to hang out with!

Stay tuned for a recap of Pan American Championships!

Revolution

I am really excited to have been granted the opportunity to go to Scotland and race the final Revolution of the season this weekend. The Revolution is one night of awesome racing in a sold out arena of passionate cycling fans. I have always wanted to go race in Scotland and there really isn’t a better event to do it at than the Revolution. Saturdays night’s racing will feature all kinds of racing but I will compete in the team sprint battle, match sprints and keirin racing. I am really looking forward to an awesome night of racing and fun. From Scotland I will travel to Mexico next week to compete at Pan- American Championships for the National Team. The next few weeks are full of so many awesome opportunities I am really looking forward to making the most of them. But not having to go to school for a while is fun too!

Nationals x2

Laid up in Lehigh Valley Hospital for a few days

September marked a very tough month for me with both Collegiate and Elite national Championships at the end of the month. These two events were my focus this season and I was feeling great going into them until I broke my collarbone in a crash racing. I had surgery on my collarbone September first and began the rehabilitation and rest process. I was crushed by the injury because it looked like I wouldn’t be able to ride either national Championship. As the days went by and I felt better and better I began to push what I could do by getting back on the bike just days after surgery and back out on the road within a week. I tried to salvage my training program the best I could and just see if Nationals would be a possibility.

Collegiate Nationals Kilo (Property of Lee McDaniel)

Just a few weeks later I was in Frisco, Texas racing Collegiate Nationals for Penn State. I really didn’t think I would be able to race that well and after my first session on the track I was doubting if I could race at all. Everything was different and uncomfortable. I was able to push through it and began to settle in on the track. I was told by my doctor that I could only do two standing starts, one in training and one in the kilo because they would put the most stress on my collarbone. My practice start was pretty awful and I couldn’t hold the bike down for the entire lap and pulled up. Thankfully the start I did in the kilo was better although not great. I started off collegiate nationals with the kilo time trial. With a almost one armed start I was able to post a 1:03.0 kilo which was a personal record for me so I was absolutely thrilled with it. Of course it came with all the fun of a kilo and being late for podium because I was puking my brains out.

My dad and I after the kilo podium (Property of Lee McDaniel)

The only other event I rode at collegiate nats was the sprint tournament. I had the fastest 200m time so I started off seated first. I was able to keep that spot the whole way through the tournament and take the gold. There were some awesome sprint rounds and great racing at collegiate nationals. It is awesome to see so many elite level riders also going to school and racing collegiately. collegiate nationals went really well for me and built some confidence to take into elite nats.  A huge thank you to all the USAC staff and the volunteers of the Superdrome for putting on another great event, it was a great time!

Elite Nationals Sprint Tournament (Property of Erika Fulk)

I flew directly from Frisco to LA for elite nationals which started just days later. I was able to get some good training sessions in on the track before the racing started. The more I rode the track the more natural it felt with my shoulder. I was feeling really good going into the racing and started off with team sprint. I rode with Nate and Danny in team sprint but we came up one tenth of a second short in the final and took silver but it was pretty good for a team put together at the last minute. The second day brought about the sprint tournament. I was seeded fifth with a 10.8s 200m. The sprint rounds went really well and I moved into the final round for the gold medal. I really wanted to take the sprint title because it is a title I had never thought it would be possible for me to earn. I raced my heart out and gave it everything I had and I came out on top winning the sprint title in just two rounds. I was absolutely thrilled with this victory and was probably the most special race I ever won because of everything I had gone through to get there. It was a monumental win for me on so many levels and I could not have been happier with it. I was able to finish out Elite Nationals with a win in the kilo time trial and a time of 1:03.2.

Pretty Happy after the Sprint Tournament! (Property of Kristy Morrow)

The entire trip and month of September was really tough for me mentally and physically. I went from having surgery and being laid up in the hospital to turning a 1:03 kilo just 20 days later and onto two Elite National Championship titles the next week. I am really happy with the results of the trip but I am happy it is over. Now that I have had time to catch back up in school I am back to training and working hard again along with hitting the books. I am very grateful to all of my professors at Penn State for allowing me the opportunity to compete and go to school.  I am healthy and strong enough to lift again and train as hard as I want to. Now my focus has shifted from recovery to working towards the future and the vast opportunities it holds.

Elite Nationals Kilo (Property of Pat Benson)

I would like to thank everyone who really stood by me and believed in me through a very difficult time. A huge thank you goes to my parents who were there when I crashed and sat with me in the hospital all of Labor Day weekend and were there for me every step of the way back, love you guys. To my team and awesome sponsors for reaching out and making sure I was okay and had everything I needed to return to the sport stronger and faster than before. I really owe all of this to Dr. Stansbury and his team of miracle workers at VSAS Orthopedics for getting me all plated up and back to full strength in no time at all. I am very grateful to everyone who has reached out to me and shown your support.

Some nice hardware in my shoulder

I know I have really grown as not only a racer but as a person through this whole experience but it is in the past, now it is time to focus on the future and start building for Rio 2016!

Keirin Cup Recap

Friday night was the coveted keirin cup at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I won the event last year becoming the first Junior racer to ever win the title so I really wanted to defend that title this year as an elite rider. But that is not all, Friday also happened to be my 19th birthday as well and no one wants to lose on their Birthday. The nights racing started well for me with a nice clean ride to qualify into the keirin finals. The keirin semi finals were cancelled so I decided to jump into the 3k scratch race. With a host of good endurance guys the pace was high and I ended up towards the back with two to go. In turn 2 a hole opened up and I went for it initiating the sprint with 500m to go. I took the lead coming through with one to go and narrowly held off the charge from two of the New Zealand Junior Worlds team riders to take the win. The NZ junior team is looking fast and is definitely going to be a force at Jr worlds at the end of the month! It was great having them in town for the past few weeks of racing. The men’s keirin final finished off the night’s program so I had plenty of time to rest after the scratch race. The keirin started with a bang as two riders crashed while the motor was still on track and caused a restart. After the restart I was able to get the motor and lead out the race staying out of all the sketchy business at the back. With 500m to go Giddeon made a move to come over the top but was held off by Andy and the front few riders. I held the lead going into the bell with Lanell Rockmore behind me and Any Lakatosh on his shoulder. I was able to anticipate all of the attacks and hold the lead all the way through the line and take the Keirin Cup. The whole race was captured on video below. It was a great night of racing and an even better Birthday! The guys at Pure Energy Cycling brought a cake to celebrate my B-day after the racing. Thanks for that! It was a great night to have so many fans cheering for me from friends and family to past teachers and the Pure Energy crew! You guys all make it that much better.

Jen and I with the Keirin Cup
Photo by Anthony Skorochod of CyclingCaptured.com

Earlier in the week I received an awesome early Birthday present from the great people at Recovery Pump. They make an active compression recovery system that has been helping me recovery faster and more efficiently for the past few days. Check them out and see how you can benefit from some recovery boots at: RecoveryPump.com

Recovery Boots in action!

Junior Track Nationals

This was my first year of racing as a senior rider and not a junior. For the past 12 years I have been a junior and competed at every Jr Nationals for the past seven. My junior career was very sucessful and fun but it never really hit me that I wasn’t a junior anymore until this past weekend when Jr Track Nats were at my home track, The Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I mean being able to ride unrestricted gears on the road was great and all but I still felt like kid. With track nats being at my home track this year there was no way I was going to miss the great racing and the opportunity to see many of my friends from around the country again. Last year the opportunity to help a younger racer presented itself and I jumped on it. For the past nine months my dad and I have worked with Calan Farley on sprinting. We brought him down to Atlanta to race in Spring and his big event was Jr Nationals. It was very weird for me to be at Jr nats as a coach and a pro rider instead of a junior. I did learn a lot though and found out watching from the sidelines is more nerve wracking than actually being the one in the race. Calan had a great nationals winning two jerseys a silver medal and a bronze medal. He worked really hard all year long and definitely deserved it. I couldn’t have been more proud of him especially since he qualified for junior worlds in New Zealand in August.

My first Junior Nationals not as a rider but as a coach and pro was actually a lot more fun than I was anticipating. It was great to see old friends from across the country and make some new ones too as well as seeing the next generation junior national champions being crowned. Watching the races all week made me think back to all my trips to nationals as a kid made me realize that those races I didn’t win were more instrumental in making me the rider I am today than the ones I did win. Believe in yourself and never give up!