The 2012 mountain bike racing season is just around the corner. I signed up for a few races so far, a Leadville 100 Qualifier, a race in Pittsburgh (The North Park XC Challenge) and another in upstate New York (The Dark Horse 40). One of them is through USA Cycling, which requires a license to race. To my surprise my name and race history were already there, meaning I only had to renew my license rather than signing up for a new one. It was an Expert class license, which transferred over as a Category 1, something I'm not entirely clear as to when and why that happened, but this was big decision for me. I jumped right in and renewed as a Cat 1 racer, rather than downgrading a level down. This adds pressure for me to do well or at least better than my last race, which was in 2002. I definitely feel like I'm a stronger and wiser rider now.
Being 31 I'm also bumped up into another age bracket, masters. I started as a junior (18 and under) jumping to the expert class in two years; took a brief break from racing; got back into it and kicked ass as a senior Sport class, but got beat down when I upgraded to Expert, then stopped entirely for years. It'll be interesting to see how I fair in my older age yet better form. I'm a bit nervous about letting myself down especially after the focused training year I've been having so far.