Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Whoa whoa whoa January got away from me. Writing is still a good thing, this blog still exists, Nuku’Alofa is the capital of Tonga-a small dot in the ocean- and I have some cool news to finally share with you all.

This is the one I am really excited about, proud of, and genuinely honored to be able to offer some of my experiences to. There is a type of pottery in Japan that also serves as a philosophy for dealing with the challenges and hardships that life presents. Kintsugi is the art of taking broken pottery and piecing it back together by filling the cracks and bonding the art back together with beautiful gold or silver lacquers and, as a result, creating a new and vibrant piece all together. The kintsugi ideals convey that one does not have to live by replacing or throwing away their struggles, but instead allow one to look at those challenges with awe, reverence, and restoration. Out of concrete grew a rose.

It may be a reach, but I have always wanted something good to come out of all that’s happened. I, on many occasions, didn’t want to be the “crash guy” and in direct correlation, didn’t want to be the guy that only talked about that. This is more than crashing. I’ve been through a lot, seen and understand a lot, and want to make an impact. I may not be a broken ornamental dish, but I think that this represents the start of my kintsugi. The beginnings of something that I can look back on and feel pride about its purpose and mission. “The gold-filled cracks of a once-broken item are a testament to its history”.

Shortly after my accident, and after my, maybe month long (?), screen embargo was lifted I spent many hours researching head injuries in athletes and spent time planning my eventual comeback. My googling (it’s a real verb now, I swear!) led me to Olympic level snowboarder Kevin Pearce. Kevin was the *other* name in snowboarding, besides Shaun White, leading up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Kevin had a horrific accident in training, suffered a severe TBI, and just like that had his life change. Due to his notoriety in the sport he had his whole recovery documented on camera, which led to the film The Crash Reel. I watched this documentary during my recovery and was heavily affected by it. Our injuries and hospitalizations were eerily similar, but beyond that, our families were both heavily involved in our new lives. Seeing how Kevin’s family members were impacted made me so much more aware of what my loved ones went through, and this film played a very large part in my decision to not return to professional cycling. To see things from a different eye than my own helped to compartmentalize just what’s important in life.

Kevin and his family started the LoveYourBrain foundation- an awareness organization with the aim to humanize traumatic brain injuries and their unfortunate regularities- and I am incredibly honored to say that I reached out to them with willingness and hope to be able to offer my reach within the cycling world to help spread their message of brain health and brain injury awareness. As of 2016, I will be riding the long Gran Fondos and competing in endurance mountain bike races while wearing a kit that will represent LoveYourBrain.

As a victim of a severe TBI, I went through some pretty trying moments while recovering. These are easy to find and notice: I had to relearn how to walk; I wasn’t allowed to shower without supervision because I couldn’t steady myself enough to not have a risk of falling; I would get heavily lost on walks down the hallway and would stubbornly try to convince my caretakers that I would be fine on my own. I wore a belt around my waist, like a leash, for multiple weeks to allow whoever was tasked with walking with me something to grab onto when I would start to fall.  I could go on.

What isn’t easy to see is where I am now. I’m a different dude than August 23 of 2014. For one, I eat regular human portion sizes now. I also get incredibly agitated by people who take risks. I can’t be in over stimulating environments- too many things to focus on causes my head to go into a crazy spin that feels almost as if I’m inside of a dryer, but instead of the heat it’s static electricity. Driving in traffic is now one of the more stressful things that I encounter, and big groups are not awesome anymore- I get incredibly overwhelmed at stadiums, concerts and noisy restaurants. I used to be very good at remembering people’s names, but now a person may as well tell me there name and 25 others and I'll try my best to use my memory techniques to remember it. My whole life I was an avid reader and I’ve only been able to complete three books in the past 1.5 years. I love TV, but since 8/24/14 I haven’t been able to finish House of Cards because an hour-long show is too much to focus on. I’ve seen less than 5 movies since my life changed, as following a plot line for 90 minutes is fatiguing and very difficult. There is more.

LoveYourBrain aims to help victims of TBI and their families know that they are not alone. I am incredibly fortunate to have had the support from my family, Marissa, and my friends and many people do not have that. A TBI introduces a new person to the world, and it doesn’t just affect the victim, but everyone they are connected to. LoveYourBrain inspires progression, encourages healthy options, and offers ways to strengthen your brain.

Here’s where it’s super cool. It’s not just for victims. I’m not writing about and representing LYB because I want you to stop doing anything where you could hit your head. I’m representing this organization because I want you to know that hitting your head is more than just “ringing your bell” (I hate that expression!) and that there are things you can do before, during, and after a “knock on the dome” (that one too!) to help to really love your brain. I want to use my story to help inspire and provide hope for others who will encounter a brain injury in their lifetime. My kintsugi.

There will be more this year, but please ask me any question you have about brain injuries, big or small. Watch the movie The Crash Reel to see a small bit of what I and other victims of severe TBI have gone through. Sleep. Just be generally happy. If you have a small crash and hit your head, see a doctor. If you have a tiny crack in your helmet after a crash, get yourself checked out. If you have a tiny crack in your helmet, and you didn’t crash, get a new helmet! What you do now helps you in the future. Let’s talk.

Love your brain. LoveYourBrain.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Here we GO!

Everyone. I like bikes. Ok, now we're all up to date.

I've been all "shhhh" and "hushhhh" and other ways to use lots of the letter 'h' over the last couple of months as I hint and poke at what goes on inside of my noggin. It's December, next year is soon, and more and more details are becoming undetailed (is that a thing?), so why don't we kick off the unveiling and discuss how funny I think it is that I am getting "Taylor Nation" emails. Ever since I won the award for best choice ever to buy tickets and go to the Taylor Swift concert, I've been getting emails. No one is complaining.
Did anyone try to click that? Oh man it would've been so smart to link that somewhere but I couldn't be bothered.

Yeah, I'm stalling.

OK!!!!! I ride my bike every day. Some things are still very, very foreign to me as my head and body are forced into relearning and readapting to my new new. That's fine though as the pure joy of cycling is still completely there. Pretty early on I learned that I felt way safer and more comfortable riding on the dirt, and complete with a new MTB I started to ride more and more trails and quiet roads, with no sensory overload to worry about- instead breathing deeply at the peacefulness of the woods. When riding in the woods, I don't have to worry about a car buzzing me, the feeling of my tires at 20mph, or flatting through a corner at 30. There's a lot to think about on the road, (the dirt too!) and with that my confidence and trust in my abilities is changed. One of the main reasons that road racing is a no-go for me in the 2016 season is that I don't trust myself. The other 150 people + pavement + high speeds is a main factor, but I'm a different bike rider now too.

But I can't go away.

Evidenced by me racing a full cross season this year, riding my bike every day, doing intervals, and having my "I'll NEVER train in the rain again" attitude last for a total of zero rides. Bikes have done too much for me and although I've been forced to reevaluate what they mean, they still have meaning.

In 2016 I'm entering some new lands. I've never ridden my mountain bike longer than two hours. In 2016, I'm signed up for the......

I had this crazy idea awhile back to start doing things on a bike that I would have NEVER DONE as a serious road racer. This got started by riding what felt like an entire day on Hwy 20 with my friends Andy and Josh. I learned on that ride that sometimes going fast for 60 minutes isn't the only thing that is important on bikes, and there are many ways to challenge yourself on a bike.

Then I started researching.

I'm super excited to have the High Cascades 100 be a big part of my Endurance MTB season, but you better believe that since I have only ridden a mountain bike two hours at a time, I'll be prepping for the 100 by doing......


Besides going out and mountain biking many minutes, I also will be experiencing a... different... use of bikes than I am accustomed to. Last September Steve F, Chris W and I went to Winthrop to do a Gran Fondo. There we teamed up with some guys from the Keller Rohrback team and conquered one of the coolest rides that I have ever done.

Photo: WingerStudios
We were the first group in this "race", but after spending 7 hours riding through wind-torn and fire-burnt terrain, we all crossed the line together, forgoing a grand sprint and instead basking in the glory of the bike and the ride. And then we ate pizza. I need more of that! In 2016, many of my big training rides will be in the form of the Vicious Cycle Gran Fondo series. These give me the opportunity to explore new places, ride fun roads on a well-marked course, and tackle a challenge with friends.

LONG mountain bike races and Gran Fondos. I would have scoffed at the idea of these in 2014, but 2016 is the year of the dirt so scoff away!

I've got some more to talk about involving the aforementioned stuff, but this post is long. I'll keep some undetailing (is that the word that I used earlier?!?) happening over the next couple of days, but for now I'll leave you with a small taster:

Actually, I should have been saying dedetailing instead of undetailing. I regress.

Oh, right, your clue!

Friday, November 13, 2015

First of the news

Hey, things are starting to become more final! I've been working on some stuff that I'm really excited about and I should have enough information and direction in the next bit to share with y'all and make you excited, too! Here's a small clue:

Before I share more in a later post, let's talk about what I'm excited about right NOW that's been a bit more public and less behind-closed-curtains. For one.....

Photo: Andy Bokanev


photo from Pops! DBCphoto

CASCADIA BICYCLING TEAM!!!                                    #RideSasquatch

Before I get into more, let's talk about those two. With my Jamis contract ending and my serious road racing being more in the rearview, I wanted bikes to be for nothing but FUN. Hence joining Sasquatch, a small local team in Seattle that is made up of my friends. Easy choices! Plus, since it's about fun, if the Sasquatch dudes want to eat pizza the night before the race, heck ya I will! Pizza-legs be damned.

Cyclocross is something that I did pretty regularly when I was a silly little dirt goblin back in the day. Then I got all serious about pedaling on the road, and if I did race a cyclocross race I would do a 3-5hour... warmup.... before doing the dirt pedaling contest. Riding on the road, in a group, and pavement in general are things that are super sketchy to me still, but I need bikes. I feel completely comfortable going 10mph on dirt and I'm racing single speed to... limit... myself on how crazy I can get.

Having weekly cyclocross races has been an amazing thing for my morale, and just having that "competition" back in my life has really made my Autumn be a good one.

Oh, and on Nov. 24 (3months post accident) I got a tattoo. In that post I wrote:

"Also, you better believe that when I win again, it will be very visible in the victory salute. See that! That's being positive right there"

I'll try to win again so the tattoo is actually in the picture, but that dude in the yellow-green shirt is seeing nothing but + right there
So cyclocross is really cool and I've got a couple more races to look forward to this year. Rad!

Next on the new new:

DBCphoto. Thanks dad!
METIER RACING AND COFFEE is the new venture of the people behind HSP- a coaching and training facility that I've been a part of since I was about to start my first cat 3 season. Then I won 5 races in a row, so I guess that foreshadows.... something?

Metier is aiming to be something different and something new and cool. It's a giant space that will have: a bike shop, bike retail, yoga, gym, classes, massage and physical therapists, acupuncture, bike fitting and training for cyclists, and a full cafe serving coffees, beers and wine, food and baked goods.

After deciding that I wasn't going to continue pursuing getting paid currency for pedaling circles, I realized that I would need to make some currency appear in order to continue to, ya know, live and stuff. I spent a month or so really grumpy, frustrated, and sad at my reality as I went from complete freedom to looking for an office job. This was not OK! Sorry to Marissa that she had to deal with me while I felt sorry for myself for that month.

Metier has been in the construction/prep process for awhile, but I had pretty quickly, post the "I need a job" decision, decided that I didn't want to work in a bike shop so I had never thought Metier might be a good spot for me. Then I started to spend more time with Eric Cockrell, as he is also a dirty single speed cyclocrosser like me. Eric is the manager of the cafe side of Metier, and as I talked with him more I saw his passion in the project, learned more about the cafe, and really bought in to the idea of a space like this. I realized that although I didn't want to work in a bike shop, I emotionally needed to be around bikes but also have a step before I started to *maybe* someday work in an office (yuck).


Sorry for yelling, that's a lot of words. My bad.

But yeah, I'm a cafe employee at Metier! We open officially tomorrow, hence this post coming out, but we've been doing a lot of training, prep, and VIP parties, so we're ready to go.

Photo: Ben Lindbloom
So if you're in the Seattle area, come visit me at "work", hang out in an awesome place, and you may as well buy a coffee or beer from me and sit in our comfy chairs and watch a race on TV or something.

And yes, I passed my WA Food Handlers Permit test. Because I do in fact know that you need to wash your hands after touching raw meat.

Ok, thanks for hangin' with me.

Speaking of my finger, I'm also professional model now:

Photo: Ben Lindbloom
Come hang at cross race or at Metier Racing and Coffee! And I promise, there are a couple more really exciting things to come. Yes!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Breaking silence

Alright, so with the Jamis roster being partially released on the internets ( it's become increasingly... public... that I won't be returning to the team in 2016.

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.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Well Overdue

This has been an embarrassingly long time between posts, especially with the whole brain surgery thing constantly looming. Well, to get to the lowest point on this story time totem pole, I'm still here and still have a functioning brain. Actually- I told a joke that I thought was on point and no one laughed.... so let's blame my surgeon on that one.

I really don't need to go too deeply into brain related topics other than that my surgeon said "let's go ahead and consider you done with brain stuff" which is a statement I can get behind pretty strongly. Let's just avoid more brain things. The surgery recovery was an odd combination of way better and way worse than I expected all with a crunchy topping of tylenol and increasing-duration walks. I'm now something like 7 weeks post-op and I feel like I've recovered well.

And a reason to why a lot of you read, I am back on the bike! So that's great! I'd be lying if I said it were without hitches, but I'm doing what I can to pedal circles because that's an awfully fun thing to go out and do. Since pictures always are more effective than words, this is the major change that I've recently done to my bike to help that darn neck work a bit better:

Me all race-ready and aero and stuff with a 130mm stem 
Just chillin' all comfortable with a 70mm stem
Make sense? Yeah, I thought so.

More changes! Have you heard of food sleeping bags? When you fill up a sleeping bag or large burlap sack with a combination of delicious flavors and textures, you then are able to consume many different things of delight at once.

That's right, world! I ate that son of a gun with my mouth and didn't even consider using a fork or a knife! After just a couuuuuuple more hours in the dentist's chair, they gave me those sweet, peaceful, serene, and gorgeous words: "k we're done go eat snacks, kewl". Wooooohoooo! If you've never eaten a burrito before, they taste good and are an eating-world experience. I've done my time practicing for this world in the past, so I had some rusty skills that needed sharpening. I've eaten ummmm several burritos in the past 10 days. Judgement free zone.

Speaking of teeth, I was pretty devastated to watch Ben Jacques-Maynes crash out of his final and record-setting Tour of California. The poor guy smashed his mouth and lost a couple teeth. In a...happy?... way, I was glad to be able to offer up some words of wisdom on delicious ways to enjoy soft or liquid foods. Secret: rice pudding is amazing and blended chicken noodle soup is not.

That photo leads in well to the next series of events, which I guess reading back over what I've written, is technically not "next" but more prior events- I've been writing in reverse chronological order. That means in Early May, plopped right in between brain surgery and dental adventures, I got the opportunity to travel to Sacramento to spend time with JJ Haedo, Carine from Jamis, Wendy from Sutter Home, and the chance to see my teammates before they kicked off the Tour of California.

It was a really unique experience for me to see what happens on the other side of fence at bike races. It was very special for me to be able to see my teammates and staff and support them how I could all while feeling the bike race vibe.

It's been a wild ride. It continues. Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hello! I did another speech

I'll get to talking about the whole recovery from brain surgery thing in my next post. We'll keep things interesting by switching topics completely for just a second so that this sentence is the only one that mentions my... medical related.... situation as of recent.

This weekend I had another opportunity to give a speech for a group of people I feel completely comfortable around. I was asked by the Marymoor Velodrome Association (MVA) to be the guest speaker at their fundraising auction. While the last speech I gave was mostly stories about me with some efforts to pass my message along thrown in as well, with this speech I wanted to be more specific.

The MVA has been a huge part of my career as a bike racer and I jumped on the opportunity to be able to give back even if just in the smallest of way as trying to entertain people before an auction. While yes- there were still stories from my time at the velodrome- I used my time limit with a pinpointed goal to: try and inspire people to bid on items, donate money, and volunteer their time to help develop the velodrome community even further.

Here's a quick sampler of the speech! Plus, I got to wear a tie. And in my world, ties are fun to wear because I read GQ magazine and don't sit in an office, daily, wearing a tie. So hooray for ties and tie bars!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Important news.

Hi friends! I have something that I need to share with you, that isn't the best nor most exciting news. I want to preface this by saying that what I need to share has an excellent result and is a much needed and lucky sequence of events that has led to me being better than ever.

I don't know how to not be painfully blunt with this, so apologies if it comes across a bit like ripping a bandaid off.

Last Tuesday, April 7th, I had brain surgery to remove a large cyst directly in the middle of my brain. I have been recovering very well and am ahead of schedule on all fronts. I spent several nights in the Neuro ICU at Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle and have been recovering at my mom's house since Friday.

When I crashed in Colorado, the Neurologists noticed a small cyst. This was deemed unimportant as there were much more immediately relevant things to focus on at the time. Six months later I had a follow up MRI to determine how my injuries were healed. The good part is that the injuries had progressed well (bike riding, yay!), but the bad news was that the cyst had multiplied 14 times in size. The neuro surgeon who cleared me to ride bikes also gave me the surgery news in that same appointment. Talk about anti-climactic! He was shocked that given the size of the cyst I wasn't experiencing any, truthfully terrifying, neurological effects.

The cyst needed to be removed, and needed to come out stat. The neuroligical effects ranged from random lightning-like headaches, to optical issues, and at the darkest level, seizures. To be able to make the decision to have the surgery before these started happening gave me an incredible sense of relief.

The words "brain surgery" are terrifying to me, but I also felt an ironic sense of luck. I knew it would be another step in my journey, but one that I absolutely needed to take. Due to the length of the surgery, my surgeon needed about three weeks to get me on the schedule. Initially, I was disappointed at this news. I wanted to do the surgery STAT so that I could start the recovery process and be back on my way. However, with the addition of bike riding, beautiful weather, and time with friends, I had a very wonderful month of March. I felt like I went into this surgery with an incredible mental state and my batteries recharged.

In Colorado in August I had my head partially shaven while I was in a coma to be able to monitor my brain activities. When I was back to being more me, I wasn't stoked with my large bald spot because I like to make sure that my hair game is always on point. I knew that for this surgery they'd have to shave a large stripe down my head, and I wasn't too excited on that part. BUT, I knew that I had the opportunity to prepare. So I went and visited my barber, Spin, and let him work his magic. The dude's a legend! There's still a small stripe, but it's nothing compared to what it could've been.

On April 7th I checked in to Virginia Mason and had a ~5 hour surgery. One thing that greatly improved my perception of this brain surgery were the methods that they would be performing the surgery by. The cyst was directly in the center, and the plan was to go in and drain that bugger. My biggest concern with brain surgery was muckin' around in any brain matter. You hear stories of people who have their brains cut into, and can't smile anymore or other things like that. With my surgery there is a path of fluid that leads directly the gland that the cyst was on. When the skull is opened, the cerebellum sags, therefore opening the channel even more. They can go entirely through the channel to get to the cyst, and there are no known side effects. This eased the greatest of my concerns.

The surgery went well, was a bit quicker than they expected, and after a couple days of around the clock supervision in the hospital, I am back to my mom's house for... around the clock supervision! I am very lucky for the care that I get.

Yesterday I was able to take my first shower, which was a big ol' delight. Before the showers, this is how I had to wash my hair! Thanks mom!

Also the longest beard I've ever had
Speaking of hair, they deemed me A)incredibly jacked, super muscular, full of muscle man in my neck, which is hilarious. And B) Incredibly hairy. SO, they shaved the wrong arm. Word. The arm they shaved ended up only having one IV and a small amount of tape, while the other, non-shaven arm had three IVs and endless tape, prime for waxing. Here's how they shaved it!:

Bowl cut!
I've known about this surgery for a couple weeks, but have been really hesitant about telling people beforehand. I don't like making things about me, and everyone I told in March was definitely mentally effected by the news. So please, if you feel as if you are a good enough friend to me that I should've told you, don't be mad. I really wanted to! I was really struggling with how to share this news in a positive manner. I wanted to share it broadly after I was well on my way through recovery, which here I am! I ate breakfast, showered, slept, and just was being awesome all day yesterday and today. Know that there are many people I wish I could've told but couldn't find a way to tell it in a way that was fair for both of us.

I'd also like to thank my team for being so understanding of my ongoing journey. I was so grateful to be able to spend last week in California with the team (more on that later!) and have continued support from the Jamis HB family. There are actually dozens of people I'd like to thank, but for now I'll make sure and thank them in person.

Thank you all, too! Sorry for this news but please believe me when I say this surgery, although terrifying (for me!), really was a great thing. I am so happy to be back on the recovery trail. The brain is an absolutely amazing thing. Love it.