Juan Aracena is a New Jersey resident and massage therapist who won several races in the 2012 Spring Series and recently won races 3 weeks in a row: the cat. 3 field in the Central Park Classic, the 2012 New Jersey Masters 45+ Road Championship, and the New Jersey cat. 3 Road Championship (the latter on his birthday).
Tell us some about your early racing career, how you got into racing and your racing up to last year.
I actually started cycling pretty late, at the age of 29 (now 45). I bought my first bike in Bayonne NJ at RG's Bikeshop. It was a GIANT Iguana mountain bike. I got introduced to the North Jersey Mountain Bike Club that was run by the late Doug Danielle. We used to gather every Sunday and go for some great mountain biking. On one of our rides in Ringwood State Forest I noticed some guys blazing the trails. So I asked Doug where are those guys going and why are they going so fast? He told me that there was a race that day. And this is where the racing bug started. I was never that fast at mountain bike racing. Then someone told me that I needed to buy a road bike to get endurance. So I bought a Schwinn FastBack. On the road doing my endurance rides I met many road racers. And they introduced me to the road racing scene. Once I noticed how easily sprinting came to me, I was in love, especially because I was getting my butt kicked all over the place at mountain bike racing. So I started to take road racing a lot more seriously because of my success. At the time I knew Roger Aspholm from Westwood, and he and Troy Kimball introduced me to the team. I rode for them for a few years. That was a great learning experience for me.
You've obviously gotten good results before, but it seems that 2012 has been a particularly good year, with wins in the Spring Series, Central Park Classic Cat. 3 Race, and the New Jersey Masters 45+ and Cat 3 Championships. Are there any particular things that happened to help you get these results this year?
First, I may say that I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be able to do what I passionately love to do. That is to challenge the mind and physical being. I will say that a good part of my success has come from the support of my loving family. Which allowed me to be more focused in what I love to do. I believe that one of the keys is that you have to love what you're doing so it doesn't feel like a job. Also I may mention that the knowledge I found becoming a massage therapist has helped me tremendously in the understanding of the human body. And this has been instrumental in my cycling success with this season.
Can you give a few examples of how your knowledge of the body from your work as a massage therapist has helped your racing?
I went to The Swedish Institute College of Health Science and majored in Massage Therapy. It was incredible what I thought that I knew and actually didn't.
*That we have layers of skin , subcutis, dermis and epidermis
*That we different kinds of muscle tissue, cardiac, skeletal and smooth
*ROM - range of motion. This was KEY. This understanding really unlocked many questions for me. Because with this knowledge I was able to figure out normal and abnormal movement.
It is like seeing through the skin (epidermis) and figuring out how muscles make the skeleton move. It's truly incredible. This is the reason that I can help so many people through Massage Therapy and address their needs. Whether it's for some pathalogical or stress-related reason. (Anyone interested can contact Juan about massage therapy at mtbyjuan[at]yahoo.com)
You have been able to achieve impressive results in mass sprints without having team support. Do you have some tips for other racers facing that situation?
By choice I do not belong to any particular racing team for this year. So as a sprinter racing alone against teams, it does become extremely challenging. This is where patience, race maturity and tactics play a big role. As a sprinter you must envision what is going to happen at the sprint and follow through and make it happen. And you must have 100% confidence in your ability.
What are some of your goals moving forward?
This is a tough question considering that I am the NJ State Masters and Cat-3 RR Champion. These two achievements have been very humbling. I could actually stop racing today and be very happy because I have surpassed my goals.