Hello fellow SLM’ers! I need to let the cat out of the bag now and make the announcement: I will be racing with Team CLIF Bar on the domestic elite criterium squad for the 2018 season. In this post, I would like to recap my 2017 season and share plans for what 2018 looks like.
To kick off 2017, my millennial prayers were answered. I got a remote job. Yes, you read that correctly. As I was quitting my corporate America job, and setting my sights on the ability to work naked (which I would not suggest, it was too weird). The realization dawned on me that I had time to sleep more, and take training more seriously.
The first plan of action now that I live the remote life, was to go skiing in Bend, Oregon (there is significance to the story, I’m not trying to brag). Nicole and I went with our closest friends who also have a bike racing travel addiction. While there I skied solo all morning and got to go to the runs on the mountain where I ski raced. I recalled the runs where I won a race at Mt. Bachelor, as well as fell in love with skiing and the idea of how special it is to be an athlete. From that point I knew I had to take advantage of this next year of remote life. On the way home from Bend, Ian and myself looked up races we will go to, while Nicole and Anna fretted about the large hit our bank accounts would endure. I could feel the fire that most Cat 4’s feel right as soon as they get their upgrade. It was a blazing fury of motivation!
The race plan for 2017 was Crits. My spring build consisted of races in Arizona, and closing out with Dana Point . Summer was broken up into Tulsa Tough/Boise Twilight as a block. As a crescendo I finished the season off in Colorado with Littleton Criterium, sprinkled in with local Colorado racing.
Spring is always the best time of year because I have found myself making an annual pilgrimage to the desert. Since 2012, I have gone to the concrete oasis of Phoenix for a minimum of one week in March every year. This year, Nicole and I went for 10 days. We stayed at one of the best accommodations in downtown Phoenix. This accommodation comes with turn down and wake up service that consists of someone waking you up at 4 am with awesome vacuum pressed coffee and telling you “it’s time to get up and watch bike racing” (the classics are always this time of year) before you go ride. This place will also cook with you and drink great wine together as couples. Then on some nights go out to unforgettable dinners. One might call these accommodations Jake Spelman's (AKA "Jakerdoodle") couch, but I hold it in higher regard than any five-star hotel.
The highlight of this trip was being able to race with Jake’s team and how to properly clean my bike. Jake took the time to go to the Velo in downtown phoenix, buy all of the Muc-Off product line and take me through step by step to get a bike as beautiful as a diamond (not one of those blood diamonds though, I’m talking like an ethically sourced diamond). I took detailed notes so I would not forget.
Jakes team said that if I worked for them they would split prize money with me. I think I made $150, so I did what any other cyclist would do: Spent the money on Ebay buying designer dress shoes. I think I also bought some Cartel Coffee with it as well.
The spring campaign closed out with a trip to Dana Point for the Dana Point. This was a great mile marker to see where I would need improvements going into summer. With two laps to go in the race I was in the first 10 wheels. It was like a snap shot of my dreams coming true. There was a mountain of rage and obscene language, but I could tell I was right where I needed to be. Until the last corner when there was a crash, I came to a complete stop to get like 30th or something.
After that race, I knew I was doing something right. It may have been the minimal stress in my job, the increased sleep, the quality training hours; either way, something was working!
The summer block involved me coning most of my friends to motor pace me on the weekends, to get ready for Tulsa Tough. My work outs would involve sprints off the scooter and taxing myself until I had nothing left.
Tulsa Tough was one of those trips where I kind of logistically “winged it” in preparation. I was the last ticket to get on a flight to Dallas via standby. Then Two weeks before the race, I thought that it would be a good idea to register; only to find out that the race had been full accepting no more entries since the month of April. I then sheepishly registered on the waiting list.
15 minutes before the first of three races, my name was called, and I got my number for the races. The only other time I had felt that relived was when I passed the written state of Idaho driving exam. The most one could miss is six and still pass, and I missed six. In Tulsa, I was illuminated, so excited to race I went ahead and lined up to race some criteriums!
Between getting my number and going to line up, I saw the director for team Cliff Bar taking pictures of his riders at the line. Once he was done, I went up to tell him how I follow all of the United States of Criterium videos, and am a huge fan of the team. Dylan asked where I was from and when I said Boise, we became fast friends as Dylan is a Boise local. It was an initial conversation, but I love people who are making strong contributions to the sport of cycling. I am also a huge fan of some of my fellow competitors, and when ever I am in a race with them I always share my admiration. The only two racers to ever take me seriously in a race and be nice back is Daniel Holloway, and Brad Huff. On Stage two of Tulsa Tough I was in the middle of the pack and right next to Daniel Holloway and shared how cool it is that he is essentially racing by himself and one of the best crit racers in the country. We made small talk at 30+ MPH and he said that I should follow his wheel to the front. I was star struck.
To summarize Tulsa Tough, my results got better and better every day. I found myself in the front of the race the whole day at Cry Baby Hill and getting in 3 breaks.
I was in a 4 man break, I had just pulled the group up Cry Baby hill, and one of the fellow people in the move took a water bottle in front of me and then a towel. I did not even care; I loved every second of it.
After Tulsa, it was time to prep for Boise. I had feelings of confidence, and my motivation was almost too high for July. To Summarize Boise twilight, I got in almost every move (with the exception of about three) and finished 11th place. There was a group of 11 of us that broke clear from the rest of the peloton with about two laps to go. My whole goal was to race aggressively and finish strong in front of my wife, friends, and family. But it literally took everything that I had to stay in that group of 11. After 90 minutes of racing these guys where fresh, and I had been out front most of the day.
Colorado was a continuation of racing aggressively and finishing near the front. I could start to tell that my personality in the peloton would be to attack and get a break going. I knew that the only way I could make a step up in cycling is to have a job and help support a team.
How Clif Bar Happened-
During the Boise twilight criterium I had offered to have some Clif Riders stay at my house. I really wanted to do anything that I could to help out the team regardless of what would come about it. Nicole was also filmed giving the riders massages before the race. I had been so screwed by cycling teams in the past, that I never wanted to give to get something in return. I really can get behind a team like Clif Bar that is doing good for the tattered sport of cycling.
In Colorado, after the races, one of the riders said that I should ask Dylan about getting on the team. He said that they could use someone who will go up the road in breaks and race aggressively for the first 50ish mins to save the top sprinters.
A few weeks later I had then received a “thank you” package with a gluttonous amount of Clif product. It was so much, that I had to thank Dylan with a sushi lunch. From there, I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help. And ask if there was a spot open, (I immediately knew that there would be no chance of getting on with two major teams folding up). I knew I had nothing to lose in getting rejected because I would be eating sushi. All you can eat quality sushi for that matter. It was a win – win either way.
At the end of an awesome conversation learning about the team and the media projects, I dropped the question. And the answer was- “Let me talk to the other riders and let’s follow up in two weeks”. In the back of my mind I could hear Jim Carey say “So you’re saying there is a chance?!” from the classic Dumb and Dumber. Two weeks later we met at a coffee shop, and now Dylan was asking me a series of questions, almost like an interview. Wait, it definitely was in interview. At the end of the three hour conversation, he said “I think you are going to be a great fit to the team. I am finalizing the roster, as well as sponsors and you will know in two weeks”. Two weeks later we did sushi and he offered me a spot on the roster. It was the beginning of November, and I immediately called my Mom, Nicole, Dad, and Coach John.
I was not emotional when I got on, quite frankly, I know that I am there to work for my new team mates. I still have not posted on social media. I told two people and they told everyone else for me. I am not big into creating an online image that I cannot withhold in public. I just knew in my heart that I am going to be the strongest I have ever been in 2018 only to give it all to the team’s success. What I do know- my goal for 2018 is to give more into the sport of cycling than receive from the sport of cycling.
Too many people are out there just trying to receive from other people. I know that if I come from a place of humility and a giving heart, good things happen regardless.
Moving forward into 2018-
Even when the initial conversations with Dylan began, I knew I had to push harder than ever before in the weight room. I have made a priority to ride no matter the weather, and make sure I am living in wholeness on and off the bike. I will be getting a race schedule that I will be posting to the public after team camp. The only thing I do know is that I will be making my annual pilgrimage to phoenix March 19th- March 27th for some riding and take pictures with palm trees and dirt.