I flew to Boulder in the fall of 2011 with two bikes, a backpack, and a duffle bag, seeking the hallowed training grounds and altitude that generations of pro cyclists had utilized. I didn’t know a single person when I got here, and had never visited Boulder, but as a nomadic bike racer, this sort of adventure was normal. Previously, I had lived in or spent time training in Tucson, Solvang, Park City, all throughout the Pacific Northwest, Belgium, and dozens of cities that the North American pro circuit travelled through. My sole focus was training and racing on my bike as hard as I could in order to make it onto a pro team. This had been my primary goal since I took up the sport of bike racing in 2006.
Eventually, I accomplished that goal and signed on with a Swedish team for the 2014 season. But like many amateur and tier three pro teams, it ended up being more talk than substance, and the team folded mid-season. I had just come off of my best year of racing the year before in 2013, and to have my dream pulled out from under me was a huge blow, as well as a reality check that nothing is certain in cycling and the goal of becoming pro wasn’t even that good of a goal to begin with since many of the amateur teams I had been on were better funded, more organized, and had better race programs than the tier-three pro team I ended up on in 2014.
I floundered for the rest of the 2014 season after coming back to the U.S., plagued with sickness and low spirits. That fall, Adelaide, who was my girlfriend at the time, was struck by a car while training and spent the next five days in a coma. Her face required 700 stitches, and every bone on the left side of it was shattered when she went through the driver’s side window.
Riding has never been the same for me, and the stress from the event sent my then undiagnosed autoimmune disorder into overdrive. I became a shadow of my former self throughout the 2015 bike racing season, and wondered if I would ever be strong again.
The travel that bike racing demanded had been a strain on my relationship with Adelaide, who I married at the beginning of 2015. Eventually, I decided that things had gotten so bad in life that I might as well call it quits, so I decided to become a triathlete.
Adelaide was a triathlete back then (and still is), and I had always thought of giving the sport a shot once my bike racing career was complete after winning stages in each Grand Tour. Although the curtain on bike racing career was drawn a decade earlier than planned, I signed up for my first triathlon in May of 2015.
I ended up winning the overall amateur division at Ironman 70.3 St. George a week after finishing a stage race in Arkansas, and took my pro license immediately. I did a few more bike races with my team that year and raced four 70.3s in the pro field, eventually realizing that I was not going to be as competitive as I initially thought.
Late that year in September, I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroid disorder, with a TSH of greater than 150. The extremely high numbers showed that I had been struggling with this disorder for a long time, and it helped explain the frequent ups and downs in fitness that I experienced in the past decade, my tendency to spend many months of the years sick, and the brain fog and sleep problems that I’d been dealing with in the last few years.
I was prescribed hypothyroid medication, which took about half a year to get me back to baseline—a baseline that I had probably not known since high school. While part of me wishes that I had continued bike racing after being properly medicated to see what I was capable of when healthy, I don’t actually regret my decision to stick with triathlon throughout that next year. After 10 years as a bike racer, I fully switched over to triathlon in 2016 and have been steadily making progress in all three disciplines of the sport. I’ve had the pleasure of standing on the podium half a dozen times in the last few years, though have yet to take the top step, which remains an obvious goal of mine.
The latest life-changing (sort of) event that took place was breaking my neck in 2019 a few days after Kona. What was supposed to be one last dip in the water before heading to the airport for home, ended up being a four month long period of recovery—the longest I’ve ever taken off the bike. Luckily, I didn’t suffer a spinal cord injury, and should make a full recovery. 2020 will be the year of the comeback. *Edited August 2020 (HA!)*
I live in Boulder, Colorado with my wife, Adelaide, and my dog, Maybellene.