In the summer of 2001, I had just finished my second year of law school, rode my bike about twice a week, and was moderately overweight. I fancied myself a pretty badass rider, at least compared to the other recreational cyclists to whom I compared myself at the time.
I then decided to try my hand at road racing that summer in the 20-24 age group Citizen's race at the Medina YWCA Twin Sizzler. I lined up with about 10 other guys, including several members of the Case Western cycling club and some guy with a Colnago bike and an Italian flag tattoo. Within a couple of miles into the race, two or three guys crashed on the side of the road, and one of them landed in the roadside ditch. A few miles later, the Case guys used team tactics to launch a guy into a solo break, which he held for the rest of the race and won. I dropped the rest of the field chasing him in vain and finished 2nd. I came home with a silver medal and a new addiction.
It took me several years to really get into road racing, and that was mostly due to my lack of exposure to bike racing social circles until 2003/2004. But, that 2001 summer race was the pilot light that led to the flame of obsession that causes many of us to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on this silly little sport.
So, every year since then except for one, I have made the trip to Medina for the July 4th Twin Sizzler. This year was no exception, and the race was typical for this event: a police lead car that led the elite 19-35 field for a few miles, then inexplicably turned off of the course with no warning to the riders; unmarshalled intersections, one of which the cyclists did not have the right of way; mixing of the 19-35 and 35+ elite fields about 20 miles into the race; and a bombed out Smith Road that made for an interesting last few miles of the race.
I tried to make a solo move at the end of the race this year, about 1.25 miles from the finish. I got caught by the peloton right before the final two turns and everyone passed me like I was moving backwards. But I lived to tell about it, and lived to fight another day, which likely includes next year's Twin Sizzler.