Now is as good as a time as ever to announce that I won't be returning to professional cycling for the 2016 season. I have gone through this year with the motivation of a return to the sport being what has driven me through some terribly rough times. Cycling, road racing specifically, has been my entire life and it's tough for me to say that it will no longer be what I will solely define myself as.
Since my third week in the hospital, at the UW Rehab center (where I had to relearn how to walk, shower, and think coherently), I’ve been plotting my comeback. Before I understood the gravity of my injuries, I was thinking of how I’d come back super motivated and win Redlands in 2015. I then received the news that I wouldn’t be able to ride outdoors for at least six months due to risk of re-injury, so I soldiered on, riding the trainer and rollers every day. This was agonizing and mentally awful as I was constantly being reminded of my weaknesses and inabilities. This grand picture and idea of getting back to road racing kept me setting up the trainer every day for six months.
I’ve seen four neuro specialists and one head-injury in athletes specialist. Each one of them has essentially laughed at the idea of me returning to competition. In turn, I’d laugh back at their disapproval of my passion, often selfishly noting to myself their lack-of-understanding of my sport and my skills.
The fact of the matter is that I shouldn’t be writing this right now. Based on my injuries and the severity of each specific one, the textbook “amazing” result would be survival as a paraplegic. The worse, more common, result is death. 90% of people who are victims of one of my injuries never awake from the coma. I was awake in two or three days, coherent in a week, and did a seven hour bike ride last weekend.
This is an incredible second chance, and one that regardless of my love for the sport, takes precedence over everything. I’ve had to wrestle with lots of thoughts over the past several months as I’ve come to personal acceptance with this situation. I absolutely love road racing, but I have a long life ahead of me and the enjoyment I get from racing my bike on the road does not outshine the unfortunate new risks. If I hit my head again I am in incredible danger. Racing, specifically in a pack at high speeds, is an inherently dangerous sport, and I am not willing to put my loved ones, my future goals, and myself at a lower value than the thrill that I get from road racing.
I am incredibly fortunate to have had the ability and freedom to spend my early 20s pursuing a passion that I will carry with me forever. The friends that I’ve made, places I’ve seen, and things that I’ve accomplished will always be a part of me and I am incredibly proud to have done what I did in the sport. Although not the textbook ending to my road racing story, by any means, I am honored to have been able to ride along side some incredible men throughout my racing career and I have been truly shaped by this sport.
Thank you deeply to everyone who has played a role not only through this recovery, but also in my career as a whole. If you sent me a card, reached out on Facebook, gave me well wishes and confidence in person, or read my blog- THANK YOU. This year has been incredibly challenging and I truly felt the incredible support directed towards my well being by all my friends and fans.
The bug is too real, though, and I've been finding ways that I feel comfortable with to continue to be around bike riders, bike races, and the scene in general and I've got a lot of cool things that I've been working on and planning. I've been spending a lot of time in the dirt, and not having 150 other guys ripping around me at 40mph on pavement is a zone that feels really right and good to me now.
This is not a guaranteed goodbye from road racing forever, but with where things are at with myself and my mind right now, I elected to not re-sign with Jamis and to not pursue professional cycling in 2016. I am forever grateful to Seba Alexandre and the Jamis family for their support this past year, and I'm excited to follow along as they stomp it in 2016.
Thanks everyone! I've got a lot of cool stuff in the works, so stay tuned for more updates to come.Tweet