New Year, New Team, & New Challenges
By: Franco Bicycles | May, 16, 2018
In our effort to answer this question, Franco Bicycles will be showcasing riders from our two Franco Factory Racing squads to hopefully find some answers over the next year. Our first rider showcase is Michael Hatton, a long-time Balcom S owner and a lawyer for the Air Force. Read on, meet our good friend Mike, and follow him on IG to keep up with his training and racing.
Well, here I sit in March 2018 with the race season well underway in mostly sunny California. This season is my second focused on road racing after spending several years in the triathlon scene, and with it comes two exciting changes for me. First, I have now upgraded to Cat 3. Second, I have joined the reiteration of the Franco Factory Racing team, that has formed for the 2018 season.
I guess a bit about myself might help put things in context. I am a 43-year old active duty Air Force dude who has been stationed in CA for about 18 months. I previously lived in AZ and did some racing there, which I only note to confirm that racing in CA is a step (or two) above what I experienced there.
Now back to my two changes for the season. So I started working with a coach in late 2016 in preparation for the 2017 season. That investment in time, money, and energy paid dividends as I had a solid season taking a win and several podiums that got me enough points to upgrade to a Cat 3. The debate became when, or even if, to upgrade. I had more than one friend advise that I should stay a Cat 4 and enjoy more wins/podiums. To be honest, part of that sounded appealing because frankly, I enjoyed the feeling of showing up to the start line knowing (or at least thinking) I was one of the strongest guys in the field. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that just is not me. I thrive on competition and enjoy the process of punishing myself in an effort to get faster, and I knew to do that, upgrading was the only way to go. Also, it was important for me mentally to earn an upgrade based on results, not just completing a certain number of races.
Change number 2 was joining Franco Factory Racing, for which I am grateful they offered me the invite. For me, cycling is just more fun when done with a group of good guys who want to push themselves and each other. I had purchased a Franco Balcom S frame when I lived in AZ and made a point to stop by the Franco booth last year at Sea Otter. We started chatting about their vision for a team with relatively quick guys, a focused attitude, and kind of a “would you want to hang out with this guy” criteria. I must have fit those requirements because here we are. We are early on in our existence, so I am definitely looking forward to more rides/races with the guys as we get to know each other better.
My season to date has been a bit of a mixed bag. It started with PCK (Santa Barbara RR) in late January in the Masters 35+ Cat 1/2/3 race. That was a mistake– I got destroyed! The gap in abilities between the 1s and 3s in that race was quite large and caused me to question that whole upgrade debate I talked about earlier. I then raced the Madera Stage Race and Cantua Creek as an Open 3 which went much better. Don’t get me wrong, I still suffered like a dog, but I felt I could hang on. My confidence started to grow, that is until the UCLA road race, where that confidence just laughed at me. I can only imagine a few things more humbling than getting shelled off the back half-way up the first climb on the first lap. Note to self: you’re getting older, you may want to properly warm-up before the gun goes off! I will learn from that misery.
I'm grateful for all I've accomplished this year already and I'm excited to share more about me as the season goes on and how the demands of the Cat 3 peloton shape my life. More updates to come!
Written by: Mike Hatton