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 racing my training and racing my bike as hard as I could to make it onto a pro team.
A few years later, 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 yet in 2013, and to have my dream pulled out from under me was a huge blow, and a reality check that nothing is certain in cycling. I floundered for the rest of the 2014 season after coming back to the U.S., plagued with sickness and low spirits. That fall, my girlfriend at the time, Adelaide, 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 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 good again. Additionally, the travel that bike racing demanded had always been a strain on my relationship with Adelaide, who I had married at the beginning of that year, which was the final deciding factor for me to consider an alternative to bike racing. Adelaide was a triathlete, and I had always thought of giving triathlon a shot once my bike racing career was finished. Although it was a decade earlier than I had planned, I signed up for a race in May.
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 half-distance Ironmans in the pro field, slowly realizing that I would not be 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 seasons.
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 before high school. While part of me wishes that I had continued bike racing to see what I was capable of while healthy, I don’t 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. My goals remain lofty as always.
I live in Boulder, Colorado with my wife, Adelaide, and my dog, Maybellene.