I guess it’s time to make it official and announce that I will be putting my racing on hold for a year. I made the decision before the start of the 2018 Cyclocross season. It was obvious that I am unable to race to my full potential with the lingering injuries sustained after being hit by a truck while on a training ride back in 2016. I tried my best to salvage the 2016 season but the back pain was excruciating…so much that it caused me to make bad decisions during races ultimately resulting in a fractured shoulder at the KMC Cross Fest. 6 weeks to the day I was back to racing in 2016 at Northampton but it wasn’t good. I finished out the season partly because I’m stubborn/driven/crazy and partly because I felt I owed it to my sponsors to finish what I had started. Over that winter I worked my ass off to get strong again but the back pain wasn’t improving…I tried months of treatment but just kept returning to a point of constant discomfort. This was all seeming ironic to me, being a chiropractor…but I understood the biomechanics of my spine were changed forever and started to believe this was just my fate.
2017 started like the last few spring/summers. I had a decent road season working with Mellow Mushroom at some bigger crits. Dabbled in some mountain biking although not much since that really worsened my back pain. I felt strong coming into the cyclocross season though and had pretty big goals. Once the racing started up it became evident again that all of the travel and racing was far more then my spine would endure. I couldn’t push as hard as my heart and lungs were willing. I felt my results were mediocre at best. So I decided at that point to take a break after 2018.
It made for a bitter-sweet 2018 cross season. It was hard to go to races thinking this could be the last time I ever race this course with these riders…I became very depressed. I was losing motivation to train, to eat well, even just to get out of bed some days. That accident back in 2016 has stole so much from me. I honestly didn’t even enjoy riding my bike most days. I would act as though I did, hoping one day it would feel right again. I would post all kinds of photos smiling from atop my bike. Most of those were real, I could for a split second during a ride find a glimpse of the joy it used to bring me and quickly snap a photo to capture it. But most of the time I was riding was spent worrying about the next time I’d get hit, worrying about my back, worrying I wasn’t mentally tough enough to push through the pain, then feeling guilty about those feelings…
After Nationals I was initially relieved to have gotten through it but then I was overcome with a sense that I was losing my identity. I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t a pro-cyclist. My fellow competitors are posting about their goals and their training while I’m still trying to figure out who the hell I am now. I suppose that’s pretty important to know regardless of the circumstances.
If it weren’t for my psychologist and my dog I don’t think I would have gotten through the 2018 race season and I’m certainly relying on them as the 2019 season gets underway without me. And I’m not completely disappearing from the racing scene…I did a running race (YES RUNNING HA!) in February and might jump into a random race through out the spring/summer if the mood strikes me and I feel fit. But there isn’t a race calendar or a training plan. I still have back pain every single day but finding reasons to smile each day makes it better. I'm looking forward to discovering who I am and the journey that will entail. Who knows what 2020 will hold.
More to come on what I AM doing this year, since all I really wrote about here is what I’m not doing…to everyone prepping to start their race seasons, I look forward to living vicariously though all of you!