Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Being the strongest guy in the groupetto and riding hard at the front is like being the smartest guy in prison and insisting all the other inmates are aware of it; you're the best of the worst, nobody likes you, and chances are most people in your vicinity are thinking of ways to kill you. 

This past week at the Tour de Beauce I found myself in the unfortunate position of dealing with people like this. To be fair, I’ve probably been this guy on at least one occasion during my racing tenure--that said, it’s still annoying. Obviously, if given the choice, I wouldn’t have been there but my legs and body pretty much stopped doing anything productive following the race’s second stage. Like…ANYTHING productive. Cleary, that time of year has come where I just need to sit on my sofa and make sure it doesn’t go anywhere. I’m tired—which sounds like such an underwhelming description—and I’m ready to relax a bit. 

To date, I can’t complain much about my season. I’ve managed to stay healthy and consistently fit for several months, I’ve managed to pull out some decent results, and I even got to come aboard one of the best domestic teams in the United States for the remainder of 2015. Sure, it hasn’t been without a few frustrations—I wish I hadn’t flatted on Oak Glen at Redlands, I wish the commissaries at Joe Martin knew how to interpret the three kilometer rule, I wish my crank arm didn’t fall off at nationals, and I wish my form didn’t take a complete nosedive at Beauce this past week. All in all though, I’ve experienced more luck than most, so I should just keep mum.

It goes without saying that I'm excited to join SmartStop Pro Cycling for the rest of the year

While it may be many weeks overdue, I’m ready to step away from my bike for a bit and recharge. Beyond the traveling circus that is bike racing, I've barely seen my friends this year—in fact, I’ve barely even seen my own home and roommates—and actually catching up with them in person would be nice. With any luck they still remember me.

Backyard BBQs with friends and the Boulder Farmers' Market--hallmarks of summer.

Kale. It's delicious. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

It's Never As Good As It Seems & It's Never As Bad As It Seems

It’s nearing midnight in the middle of New Mexico, I have no clue what town I’m in, and I’m driving rather quickly up a windy mountain road. Egged on by some excessively loud music and the realization that our destination is close I peg the gas pedal just that bit more out of every corner. I’m tired and, even in the moment, I know this is a terrible idea. As a stereotypically risk averse individual my current venture to the “dark side” is very uncharacteristic but, at the same time, somewhat exhilarating. At least the feeling of tiredness from only a few minutes before has now been replaced by a slight boost of adrenaline…

To lend some context to the situation, up to this point our travel day had been something of a shit show and I wanted nothing more than for it to be over. After a delayed flight in Arkansas, teammate Taylor Shelden and I missed our connection to Albuquerque; prompting the question of whether we would even get to Silver City in time to start the Tour of the Gila which began at 9am the next day. Fortunately, we were able to get re-booked and arrived in New Mexico four hours after we initially planned with a two hundred fifty mile drive still to go. After three hours of sitting behind the wheel I desperately wanted to be at our hotel and sleeping. Sadly, we still had an hour to go.

As the song being blared out the stereo ends the car is filled with a moment of awkward silence while the next track gets queued up. Despite lasting only a few seconds, the short-lived reprieve from audio bombardment resets my brain a bit and it finally sinks in just how Darwinian my current activity is. I take my foot off the gas pedal and coast until the odometer reads within the speed limit. It feels exceptionally slow but I tell myself that’s OK—after all, killing yourself to save five minutes is pretty silly when you really think about it. A few miles later, we reach the summit of the mountain and I pull over to the side of the road and let Taylor take the helm for the final leg to Silver City.

Despite the ominous start, the Tour of the Gila did not go nearly as terribly as I thought it would. Following a fairly brutal wake-up only a handful of hours after arriving at our hotel, I managed to pull off a decent result (in my opinion, anyway) on stage 1—finishing 11th in spite of feeling like total shit (no surprise there). In fact, feeling sub-par was probably the most prevalent theme of Gila. While stage one was by far the worst, I just never felt comfortable during the week and had this continuous feeling of lethargy when racing. I could tell my body wasn’t totally acclimated to the altitude (over the last five weeks I’ve only been in Boulder for seven days) and racing Joe Martin the week prior definitely left a bit of a dent. Fortunately, my legs came around pretty well the final day and I managed to make all the selections over the major climbs—most of which included only five to eight guys. With a bit more organization from the group (including myself who dogged a few pulls) maybe we could have rolled it to the line—who really knows. Instead, there were quite a few regroupings in the final 30km and a group of twenty or so wound up sprinting to the line. I got sixth on the day and tenth overall.

Of all the results I’ve had this year, this past week is probably the one I’m most proud of. Sure, I didn’t win but the fact that I remained competitive despite not feeling amazing is something I’ll hold my head high for. They say good bike racers are good even when they’re bad; and while I’ll leave it to others to create labels about just how good of a bike racer I am, it’s at least nice to know I don’t totally suck…even when I feel that way. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Every Dog Has Their Day

When I was in high school my parents—for reasons that still remain a mystery—bought a vintage Mercedes Benz. Appropriately named “The Panzer Mobile” this car came with all the amenities one would expect from a dilapidated tugboat—namely, it weighed an excessive amount, rarely started in a timely manner, and had an atrocious turning radius. As an added bonus, the interior of the car came with leather seats and a steering wheel that somehow had the magical power to absorb and retain every particle of energy emitted from the sun. On those hot July days sitting in the drivers seat was akin to touching the Bluth Cornballer—the only exception being you couldn’t let go or move without driving into a ditch. Perhaps the best feature of all, however, was the cars inexplicably terrible ability to accelerate and hold momentum. We often joked that by the time you got the vehicle up to the designated speed limit, you would have forgotten where you were going.

Over the last few years, there have been many days of training that paralleled the mind numbing miles spent driving around that old car. Often I’ve wondered where I’m going in this sport and how long (if ever) it will take me to get there. They say “not all who wander are lost” but let’s be honest, most are, and cycling has a weird way of making those who take it seriously feel a bit like vagabonds. Still, there’s something to be said for making your own path and giving your all to something—even when the chance of failure is ever present. Personally, speaking that has been a major driving force in keeping my in this sport. That being said, without validation of your efforts, maintaining motivation can often be hard. As many can tell you, cycling doesn’t provide such validation very freely.

This past weekend I won a pretty big race—for me at least—and it was a bit of a surreal experience. After years of looking at the results sheets from these races, it’s a bit odd seeing my name at the top of the list. Despite having the confidence of knowing I’m a good bike racer, a part of me still feels like these sorts of things only happen to other people. Having been humbled by this sport more times than I can count, I’m fairly certain this one result won’t blow up my ego (if it does, please let me know) but it does give quite a bit of confidence moving forward. Like I said, we all need a bit of validation.

New clothing day in the week leading up to San Dimas. Grazie mille, Pearl Izumi. These kits are awesome…seriously, amazing.

Hotel life with Mac Cassin. Bike racing requires a lot of sitting around. Clearly, we are rocking it.

First time pinning up for 2015. Crazy to think I won the first stage only a few hours later. 

Yea…this happened.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Not to be a sentimental wimp but...

Since my freshman year of college, I’ve made a point to call home everyday. I’m sure that may sound weird to some but it’s true—I speak to my mom almost daily.

“Mamma’s boy” jokes included, I’m proud of this fact and I consider myself very lucky to have this sort of relationship with my parents. For years my parents have been some of my biggest cheerleaders and have done more than anyone I know to get me where I am today. The way I see it, calling home to check-in is the least I can do.

With race season quickly approaching (my first major race is next Friday), I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to go this season and, conversely, how I’ve gotten to where I am. It would be beyond self-righteous to say my progress in this sport to now have been an individual act (anyone who has raced can attest to this). The fact of the matter is, there are countless people--including my parents--who have helped me along the way and, sadly, I’ve failed pretty miserably at reciprocating their kindness. From George Sykes at Corner Cycle to Sam Morse to Roger Aspholm to Jon Bruno to Jeremy Powers to Nick Traggis (and many, many others in between) there just aren’t enough ‘thank you’ cards in the world to really show my appreciation. And yes, while I have blogged about this before, it bears repeating.

So, with that, I’d like to start this race season by saying a big “THANK YOU” to those who have helped me along the way. Your generosity does not go unappreciated.

Now go call your mother…

Sunday, February 22, 2015

We're Not In Arizona Anymore

Public speaking can be a pretty daunting task for a lot of people. Imagine you’re standing in front of a crowd, the eyes and ears of each audience member fixated upon you—it’s understandably scary stuff. Now that I’ve started regularly updating this thing I’ve found myself in this weird state of mind like I’m giving a speech and, as such, I feel an odd need to say something poignant in each and every post. For the most part though, I don’t really have much to say—at least not anything profound—and, as a result, I have a creeping sense of Internet “stage fright.” Often, I find myself tediously drafting paragraph after paragraph about this or that only to realize the subject matter sucks and nobody will care. Lately though, I’ve had to remind myself why I’m doing this and what I’m looking to accomplish—mainly keep friends and family up-to-date with my whereabouts and what I’ve been up to. My public speaking teacher in high school once said “there is nothing to be nervous about because the honest truth is most people don’t listen to or care about what you’re saying.” While this very well may have been a lie used to calm the nerves of her students, I’m going to take it as gospel and run with it.

Anyway, to the (somewhat) more pressing matter of what have I been up to lately…

Well, most recently I just got back in the house after shoveling our driveway for the third time in less than twenty-four hours. Having returned to Boulder last thursday after spending the last five weeks in Tucson, AZ Mother Nature decided to send me a “welcome back” present in the form of a foot and a half of snow. Given my family back east is currently under several feet of snow, I'll bite my tongue and spare the internet any complaints. Just know I'm thinking them though…

 In a week I went from this:

To this:

Between these two polar opposite weather patterns though I did enjoy a bit of a "mini-vacation" as a means to unwind from a good bout of exercise in the desert. Given the bad weather in Colorado, I decided to take my time on the way back and check out the Grand Canyon--something I've always wanted to do. For those of you who haven't seen it, the Grand Canyon can only be described as…well…big. In all seriousness, I lack the vocabulary to adequately describe how incredibly vast it is so do yourself a favor and just go see it for yourself. You wont regret it.

On a more bizarre note, I also managed to feed a tiger upon visiting a safari-like zoo (although they claimed not to technically be a zoo) north of Phoenix. Not sure how PETA hasn't gotten this place shut down but, either way, I wasn't going to let the opportunity pass me by.

Other highlights of the last few weeks can be found below: 

Actually managed to take a relatively successful selfie while riding with Curtis on his birthday. Both Curtis and Stella served as awesome hosts (once again) on this trip. Like describing the Grand Canyon, it's hard to put into words how generous they were and how much I truly appreciated their help. 

Walking the dogs through the Wash in the morning became something of a routine. Each trip was a good reminder to just how harsh life in the desert can be. While it looks peaceful now, at night it was common to hear coyotes romping around these parts. To the day I left it still startled me to hear them suddenly shriek only a few hundred yards away. 

Sunset over the Catalina foothills. This never got old.

For Stella's birthday we had an adult dodgeball tournament. Given the occasion it was only fitting to go the whole nine yards and design custom uniforms for the event…and by "design" I mean use a sharpie to write "Happy Birthday Stella" on a pink tank-top. If this photo proves anything it's 1) real men wear pink and 2) Wal-Mart has an awesome selection of mens sporting apparel.

And on one final note, for those that missed the news, I’m going to be riding for the Alto Velo/Seasucker Racing Team in 2015. I strongly encourage you to follow them on Facebook and Twitter and be sure to do the same for all our awesome sponsors—most of who can be found on the sidebar of this blog.

That's the news for now!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Seeing The Forest Through The Trees

Bike racing is a hard sport (the sacrifice and dedication required to succeed is something that has been spoken of quite a bit, so I wont elaborate on it here). However, there are some days I feel like bike racing has made me soft—in that it has given me a false sense of entitlement. Racing at a high level, it’s easy to expect certain things—bikes, clothes, housing, equipment, massages, food, etc.—that, outside the scope of actual racing, are luxuries to the common person. Even worse, in the face of not receiving such accommodations it’s easy to find yourself quickly becoming annoyed. It’s sad really that, even after years in this sport, I’m still learning about just how great I have it and how miserably I’ve failed at thanking those who have helped me get to where I am.

This past season racing for Horizon was especially eye opening in terms of the effort required for the team (specifically our director, Nick Traggis) to get us the things we needed to race. Even as a small program, we rarely went without the necessary items needed to compete. This was no fluke—it was the result of many individuals sacrificing their time and resources because they believed in what we were doing and thought we could serve a greater purpose (i.e. promoting their brand, growing the sport, community outreach, etc.). It was here that I really learned how there is no such thing as “free” in bike racing—it’s a two way street, even when the flow of traffic would make one think otherwise. Now, I’m sure someone can make the case that receiving such items is necessary or constitutes the tools of the trade or that it’s part of the business; and I agree. However, simply because something is part of a job description doesn’t make it’s execution un-remarkable and not worthy of gratitude. For example, it’s NASA’s job to go to outer space—does that mean we shouldn’t be amazed when they land on the moon?

But I digress…

The real point I’m trying to make here is that I (and probably many other cyclists) need to bring a bit of perspective to our expectations about what this sport owes us; because the fact of the matter is, it owes us nothing.

To offer a short anecdote, after winning nationals I was completely convinced I had my ticket back to the pro ranks. In my mind, I earned it…I deserved it. In the months that followed, I emailed every team under the sun—rather incessantly if you ask me—to the point where I was convinced each team director would roll their eyes when they saw my name pop-up (once again) in their inbox. Despite doing everything I thought I could though, come the Fall I had nothing but an inbox full of rejections. I was devastated. I wanted to quit; and for a short time I did. I remember calling my parents, all my cycling mentors, and even some friends to tell them I was hanging it up. I’m pretty sure I even replied to a few of the rejection emails saying I was done which, in hindsight, was pretty dumb but at the moment seemed inconsequential. In the end, my expectations got the best of me and when they didn’t come to fruition, I was at a loss.

Fast forward a few weeks and I emerge from the grocery store to a text message about a new team—Alto Velo/Seasucker—that was looking to see if I was still available for next season. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t quite done with this whole cycling thing and, as such, I told them I was. After speaking with the management a bit more, I came to realize this program was a great fit and I can honestly say I’m more excited about the opportunity this season presents than I have been about any other race season to date. At the same time, I’ve come to realize that nothing is guaranteed in this sport; and yea, while it’s easy to lament at the things you don’t have (or haven’t received), it’s even easier to lose sight of the things you do. This was a prime opportunity to prove my mettle--I took it and haven't looked back.

So what’s the lesson in all this? Well, for me, it’s about taking a bit more inventory in the things that have been given to me and using that appreciation as motivation to continue working hard everyday. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true; and when push comes to shove, I’d rather wax poetic like some suck-up than, in the words of Louis CK,  be a "non-contributing zero."

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Standing at the kitchen window, I’m sipping coffee and looking out over the marsh lining the North River. It’s Christmas Eve and after a whirlwind travel day back East I can now breathe a sigh of relief that I’m home. Even with a low morning fog drastically reducing visibility the view is still pretty amazing. If there is one thing Colorado doesn’t have, it’s an ocean; and despite growing up on the water, I’m surprised by how quickly I’ve forgotten how beautiful it is.

Suddenly, from behind my dad walks up and taps me on the shoulder, “hey, check this out!” He points to a hanging birdfeeder suspended off the deck before scurrying off to the other room. Despite being designed with an exterior cage to keep squirrels and other vermin out, this birdfeeder has failed to perform its given function as sitting inside was a rather small baby squirrel. Space was limited but given the excess of food I highly doubt it cared. Happy as a clam it sat there getting fat in preparation for the upcoming (or already present) winter…that is, until my dad emerges with a large tree branch from above. With a figure similar to that of a golfer driving off the tee, he smashes the branch against the side of the cage sending the squirrel flying several feet in the opposite direction. Landing with a thud, the creature immediately darts towards the woods in a manner that would make you think it intended to hit the ground running. Shortly after my mind flashes to that scene in “Bambi”—you know, the one showing the mother drinking peacefully the river stream only to have the pastoral scene abruptly interrupted a few moments later by hunters shooting her. Obviously, this squirrel isn’t dead but one can’t help but think it’s definitely a bummer of a way to start the day.  

My dad is still laughing as he returns to the house—so much so that he can barely form a sentence. In this same state of oxygen debt he leaves the kitchen for his downstairs basement office and it’s only after he is no longer audible that I turn back to looking out the window. In spite of the fact this previous affair took at most forty-five seconds, the tranquil mood of the morning has somehow disappeared. Surely, somewhere in this story is a metaphor for my pre-college youth but I have neither the desire (or comedic vocabulary) to come up with it now. Either way, it’s a firm reminder that I’m home—and that’s something I’m pretty excited about.

Flash forward a week or so and I’m all packed up and ready to head back to Colorado. It’s amazing how quickly my time here has passed—sadly, this always seems to be the case. For me, coming home is a lot about “stopping to smell the roses” so-to-speak. One of my biggest faults (and there are many) is that I tend to fixate so much on my day-to-day routines that I lose sight of the things around me (just ask me friends and they can validate this). When home, things just tend to go slow—mainly because it’s during the holidays and there really aren’t many commitments. In short, it’s easier to relax. I sleep a lot. I watch TV. I hang out. It’s fairly easy. Still, my personality will only allow me so much downtime before I get restless. To compensate for an abundance of energy by weeks end I start doing things like climbing the stairs two steps at a time or cleaning the kitchen. It’s weird, I know, but I really can’t help it.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to getting back to Boulder and resuming my normal schedule. With the racing season quickly approaching each training day becomes that little bit more important and I’ll be happy to get back to work. Still, despite the long outlook, I'm really satisfied with how the last week has gone. Sure, riding wasn't my greatest focus these last ten days but I'm continuing to remind myself how that's not really something worth getting worked up about. I mean, it's not like someone beat me over the head with a baseball bat while I was eating breakfast. THAT would have sucked.

Bon voyage and happy 2015!