The time has come for my final blog as a bike racer. After 15 years racing, the clock has run out on my career, the racing wheels have been hung up and racked. It is time to shift my focus, dedication and time to other domains of my life. I have loved the ride, with all it’s up’s and down’s. I was thinking of how best to succinctly articulate the journey I have been on for the past 15 years…
My final ever race as a professional was the ‘Iceman’ MTB challenge in Michigan, USA. This tough 55km race I thought would make a good metaphor for what I have been through for the past decade and a half. The Iceman race started in less than ideal conditions. I was a minnow in a field of stars of the sport. I was already an underdog with the odds stacked against me from the beginning. The road immediately took to dirt, where I felt alive! It started super fast and I hung in there coming through the field from the back. Early on, things were looking good for me. I took a few lucky breaks and stuck with the right moves.
Bad luck then began to plague my course. I fell off numerous times in the trying conditions that were dictating this path. But I got back on and kept pushing through. I found my rhythm about 2/3 of the way through the journey. I was suffering but I was having fun. I got some awesome help from some good people I began to work with. We worked together and achieved some awesome gains as a group. I also encountered some people who were not racing a fair and ethical race, I kept these people at a distance.
I was suffering, but I was working hard and beginning to taste my own blood pushing through my pain barrier just to hang in there. I was relishing and so appreciative of the support, help and cheers I was getting from the sidelines which halted my thoughts of giving up and kept carrying me on my journey to the finish line. The pain was still there but I could see a purpose behind it all as the finish line got closer and closer. I crossed the finish line off the back and down on the results sheet, but the ultimate joy was still to be reached after the finish line.
When I got down on one knee just after the finish line and my fiancé said YES, the whole journey was worthwhile. The journey has been difficult, I have felt much pain and dealt with many, many disappointments as a cyclist but all of this pales into insignificance as in the end, the path led me to joy. Things in life that are worthwhile were never meant to be easy- this is I think the most valuable lesson I will take from having been a professional athlete. I think we all live our lives in hope that we are on a trajectory toward joy. Often it’s tough, but, the tougher it is the more joy there often is at the finish. I am so happy and grateful to have taken the journey I have as it has led me to the person I admire and love the most in the world- my fiancé.
Those that have known me throughout my bike racing career will know my career lacked any outstanding victory, in fact the reality is, most professional races were a complete battle and struggle for me just to make it to the finish line within the time cut. I gave it my all every time I clipped in for training and for racing and can confidently say I tried my very best for the 15 years I raced.
But now, I feel somewhat of a relief to be out of the often compromised, restricted and surveyed life of a professional athlete. Now, I am allowed to be happy.. I will be getting married, completing my long neglected university degree, be working as a director for an Australian cycling team and I will keep riding and riding. It was the love of the ride that took me into the sport and I am glad I can say i am leaving the sport loving to ride my bike just as much as I did when I first raced. The people I have met along the way will always be the highlight of my career, I owe a debt of gratitude to so many good, good people who helped carry me on this journey and that is the part of racing I will miss. Overall, I consider my cycling career a success. I have left the sport a happier man than when I entered the sport. In the end, nothing else matters.
I hope to see you all on the road or the trail or the spin bike…