ChiPS

chips
For some reason, every time I see the acronym CPS, I think of that beloved after school routine I once had growing up watching two motorcycled policemen chase down goofy, horribly overacting, hoodlums in the sanitized and innocent made-for-TV version of the City of Angels. Keeping the groaningly horrible references to the show to a minimum, this is the story of how my season on ChiPS unfolded.
I have been participating in the series for a few years and had been admittedly complacent about really making a front page bust to solidify my standing on the force. I had my first brush with fame on the front page of the Local section (not really) in 2013 with a third place cowbell in expert class 30-39. I didn’t pay much attention to my standing and the top two spots were well out of reach. 2014 would be my last year in that age group and I wanted to make that glamorous swan song bust. I wanted more cowbell!
Getting a podium finish this year proved to be a lot tougher than chasing down a random speeder on a posh palm tree lined boulevard in Southern California, though. Halfway through the season, I found myself in first place by a speeding ticket’s worth of points. Most categories have a few top contenders, but I knew I was in for some serious battles when our top five were separated by a mere six points. So this is the point where you start playing the “what if’s” to no end and ultimately come to the conclusion that you just better buckle down and get your ass into shape. I had a 3rd place finish at Hanson Hills, bested by Josh Zelinski and the winner, Paul Nederveld from New Holland, who was now in the top three overall. I was lucky enough to get a first place finish at State Games to boost my confidence. My first 1st place race as an expert in 6 years. So things are good. Just stay the course, right? Nope. Stepping out of the inky shadows (RIP, Tom Magliozzi), a Freewheeler dark horse by the name of Eric Langley burst onto the scene with wins at Sweat Shaker and Maybury. Seven Mary Three, we got a 211 at ChiPS 30-39! At this point, Eric’s in first and I’m tied with Paul for second with Addison and Pando remaining to duke it out.
Addison was a great race. Four laps was the sentence and after the first two, I was running 2nd behind Eric. Paul surged on the third lap with sirens ablazing, but Eric was able to evade the arrest at the line. We finished 1-2-3 with Eric pretty much solidifying 1st place in the series. There was one race left with nothing but pride (and 2nd place) on the line. Pando has always been that anaerobically painful end of the season staple in the chest slug-fest of a race that makes the Founders Centennial at the finish transcend the literal category of fermented malt and grain. This year was again true to form. First place in the series was out of reach, but this was a race just like any other. When the clock ticks “GO!”, friends become targets and racers become obstacles, not to mention the bull’s eye on your own back. Starting somewhere around fourth or fifth in the first lap, I had passed my main ChiPs competitors by the midpoint of the race with only one perpetrator to catch, but this OJ got away. Chasing over hill and vale for the next three laps the gap was still about 100 yards and giving it one last push up the final climb, I finished 15 seconds behind the winner. It was a hard fought 2nd place effort. Special thanks to the hills of the West Side of GR for getting me in shape for that! Also my teammate, Josh Hogeterp, needs to be commended for a strong race that ended up being, through ChiPS mathematical magic, the reason I was able to take sole possession of 2nd place in the series. So I failed in my pre-season goal of taking home the gold by only a couple points, but I worked hard for it and came to the end of the season in the best shape I’ve ever been. That’s the beauty of competition.
unnamedWithout that heated competition, I never would’ve raced 9 of the 10 races in the series this season. Without my team, I never would’ve been in shape to compete at all. And without mountain biking, I’d still be an ex-college tennis player. A heartfelt thank you to all the race promoters of the series, my  teammates, and all my competitors. You make this sport more than about riding a bike, but a way of life.
Matt