Having been a competitive cyclist as a college student 20 years earlier, Gary Moore thought that picking up racing again in his early 40s would be as easy as, well, riding a bike.
Entering his first Masters division race in 2003, Moore felt certain he could be competitive. But after getting lapped for the third time by the race's leaders, he had a different outlook.
Moore has progressed since then and is enjoying a fine 2010 season. He's won a couple of races, including the N.C. Criterium Championships in June, and has several other top five finishes.
Next month, he will compete in his third straight USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships in Frisco, Texas.
Moore, 50, started riding bikes around the streets of Winston-Salem as a child when had a realization: "I could visit my grandparents and girlfriends that could be up to 25 miles away."
When he attended N.C. State University in the late 70s, Moore started riding with recreational clubs. During his hiatus from college, he joined the Hearts Racing Club in Winston-Salem in 1979 and started competing in road races at the lowest cycling level, category 4.
Within a year, Moore advanced to category 3 and two years later he rose to Cat 2 and started racing as a professional at some events. He competed at Milwaukee's prestigious Superweek and in one race, shared the course with future three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.
At the highly respected Carolina Cup race in Greensboro in 1982, one of the biggest races in the Southeast, Moore went on to place third. That same year, Moore tried track cycling for the first time and won a silver medal in the N.C. state championships held at Atlanta's velodrome.
Moore dropped competitive cycling after he graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1983 but rode recreationally for 20 years. As his two children grew into their teens, Moore, who is the office manager at his wife's Concord veterinary clinic, started to get the itch for competition again.
It took Moore a couple of years to challenge the top riders in the Masters, the 30-and-up cycling category. By 2005, he was winning races again.
Two years later, a cycling acquaintance, Concord's Chris Knetsche, encouraged Moore to try track cycling again. He enjoyed the new challenge but found that velodromes, banked oval cycling tracks, are not very common. The closest one to Concord, for example, is in Atlanta.
In the last two USA Cycling Masters National Championships - held in San Jose, Calif., in 2008 and in Colorado Spring, Colo., in 2009 - Moore finished in the top 15 in several different races. This year's competition will be held Sept. 1-5.
Moore said he enjoys competing on his bicycle.
"I really like the fact that I don't have to buy a car and put gas in something," said Moore. "It's me, the individual, more than the equipment. In competition, there's a huge factor of speed. It's one form of competition that I really enjoy. It's fast, the racing is close, there's a lot of strategy involved with how you place yourself in a race and there's cornering tactics."
Moore spends about 90 percent of his training time preparing for road courses and the rest for track races. Outside of the course, the major difference between the two styles is the type of bicycle. While road bikes have 20 gears, track bicycles are limited to half that many and they don't have brakes.
Moore has been traveling to Atlanta on a weekly basis to train on the Dick Lake Velodrome. He drives the eight-hour round trip to spend about 3 1/2 hours at the facility.