Thursday, June 2, 2011

Who I am. Why I race. (NGVP - Part 1)

Today marks two weeks until the start of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.  My e-mailbox is starting to fill up with updates and excitement from my NVPR coach Marion Clignet and the rest of the NVPR staff.  From a joke, to a dream, to a goal... I'm almost there.


Who I am.
My name is Timothy Rugg.  Most of the local cycling community refers to me as Ruggles.  The name doesn't make, because there's nothing cute about me.  After a fierce battle at Speedweek with a metal barrier, sinus infection, and women in general... the name has evolved into Struggles.

I am a bike racer.  I currently race for the Elite National team, XO Communications/Battley Harley-Davidson.  I started racing exactly three years ago.  I remember seeing Harley at races and group rides and thinking about how awesome it would be to one day get to ride on the squad.  It was a feeling much like Dave Stoller's interest in the 'Italian Cycling Team' in Breaking Away.  Thanks to a lot of trust, guidance, patience, and no frame pumps in spokes from their riders and team management - I've rapidly developed and am now working towards my next step.  I owe a lot to getting to ride for this squad and am very thankful for the support the team has given me.

I haven't always been a bike racer.  I spent 9 years playing the trumpet before I gave up on the dream of Cruise Ship Jazz Performer or High School Band Director.  I switched from music to computers and completed my B.S. at East Carolina University.  During my latter college years I played ultimate frisbee and was the vocals/throat for a post-hardcore/screamo band that did a little touring and recorded one album.

Music is still a huge part of my life and I've been lucky enough to play my trumpet with a couple outfits in the DC area and hope to pick that hobby up more and more as I continue to find things to cram into my already busy schedule. 

I also miss the years I spent immediately after college working for non-profit/humanitarian aid organizations such as Invisible Children, Krochet Kids Intl., and World Concern on the West Coast and in Uganda and Kenya.  These were days when I felt like no matter what I was doing or trying to do, at least I was trying to give something where something was needed.  That sounds generic, but that is all I really want out of life.  
Why I race. 
It was the The Bike Rack and the shop's club team that first took me under their wing.  The friends and support I gained from them is invaluable.  A team composed of men and women, old and young with everything from weekend warriors, cycling enthusiasts, and novice racers created an atmosphere that let its members decide what exactly they wanted out of riding a bike.  I wanted as much as I could get.  I dreamed out loud to my teammates quite often about the possibility of one day going pro while still a little fish in the big Cat 5 racing sea.  It was such a big idea back then; it couldn't be fathomed as a goal.  I had only just watched the Tour De France for the first time and just started learning the names and teams beyond Lance and the Postal Service team.  At most, it may have just been a joke that I bounced off guys to spur some sort of encouragement or reality check. 
I'm racing because I want to achieve this definite dream of becoming a professional bike racer.  I am definitely the kind of person that tries to prove anything is possible.  The more I've been told it's not possible, the closer I've gotten.  I am late to the game at 25 years old, but still new enough to the sport to have the determination and development potential that a pro team could utilize.  
Maybe it's the appeal of travelling the country and possibly the world, of seeing a dream come true, as my job!  I love training hard, racing hard, and resting hard.  The life of a bike racer, hard and impoverished as it may be, seems exciting, simple and challenging. 

Whether I race for my rent money or do it for the joy of racing, I love to ride and race.  I've become more and more in love with the sport.  The thought of having an opportunity to drop everything and take a chance on trying to become a professional bike racer or riding for a professional team is why I've trained and worked as hard has I have.  I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to make this dream, if not a reality, at least a possibility.

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