Monday, June 10, 2013

All good things come to an end

For the past 10 seasons, I have been competing as a professional cyclist, or as some would say, living the dream. I turned professional in 2003 and focused my efforts on 24-Hr solo mountain bike racing.  During the early 2000's, 24-Hr racing was hitting it's pinnacle.  Chris Eatough was dominating the sport as myself and others tried repeatedly to de-thrown his amazing run of winning 7 World Solo Championships.

In 2005, while racing for the Cateye-Giant Team, I was sent to Italy to compete in their popular 24-Hours of   Finale race.  It's held in Finale-Liguri Italy (near the Italian Riviera).  This was my first attempt at racing oversees against the Europeans.  The biggest challenge was trying to communicate with riders during teh race. Occasionally, some of the Italians would help me with the language.  the course I raced on was quite different than what I was used to.  Most of the USA 24-hr courses are between 8-15 miles in length.  However, the course in Italy was 3 miles in length.  My initial thought if racing for 24-hrs on a 3-mile course was daunting, but once I previewed the course, I quickly realized that the 3 miles were not going to go by fast.  Each lap was approx. 20-30 min., still faster than most USA courses (45-60 min.).  

During 2006-2007 I had the privilege to race for Topeak-Ergon, a German-based team that was primarily focused on the XC World Cups (think Irena Kalentieva).  Ergon if you don't already know, is the inventor of the most ergonomical handlebar grips and backpacks.  They nearly revolutionized the bike market with their grips, especially for the ultra-endurance rider.  One of my most memorable experiences was the Team Training Camp held in Mallorca, Spain.  Known for it's beautiful weather and cycling, this tiny island was the prefect location for spending a week traveling to unique areas riding bikes and posing for the camera.  I even remember seeing the Pro Tour Cannondale team ride by our hotel decked out in the neon green kits.  One of my former US teammates, Jeff Kerkove continues to race for them.

In 2007, I had had enough of the ultra-endurance racing and turned my focus to 100 mile races (ok, I guess that is still ultra-endurance to some).  Racing for 7-9 hours seemed much more appealing than for 24 hours.  I had immediate success; as most 24-hr converts did.  The NUE Series was just getting started and gaining momentum as each year they were attracting more new venues to be a part of the Series.  To this day, my favorite 100 mile race is the Mohican 100 MTB race held in southern Ohio.

In 2008, I was approached by ProAir/HFA to be their mountain biking ambassador.  For the next 4 seasons I raced for ProAir/HFA, and there was also a sponsored elite road team based out of New Jersey .  During this time the majority of my races were held in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, or Arizona.  However, I also had the opportunity to travel to other countries and experience racing at a whole new level.  Competing in the Trans Portugal (Portugal) and El Reto del Quetzal (Guatemala) were very different venues compared to racing in the States.  One of the biggest barriers to manage was the language barrier.  trying to comprehend the rules that were explained during each night's dinner was a little confusing.  The Trans Portugal will always be my most memorable experience on a bike.  Traveling through the entire country in 9 days (north to south) and staying in some of the most unique and quaint hotels, while eating some amazing foods made for one hell of an experience.

The last few seasons of my career (2010-2012), I focused on multi-day stage races.  Both the Trans Portugal and El Reto races were stage race (50-100 miles each day).  Some of the other great races I competed in included Trans Sylvania (Pennsylvania), Breck Epic (Colorado) Trans Rockies, and Furious 3 - Fernie, BC.

The fact that I was able to race my bike and see parts of the world I know I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise, gives me great pleasure in thanking all of my sponsors throughout my career.
Thank You!!!!!!!