I complain about stuff. A lot, sometimes. I complain about insensitive drivers. I complain about knucklehead riders. I complain about being injured and the frustrations of not always being in top form. I complain about not getting to do this or that race or not finishing the way I wanted to in whatever race I did get to do. If you look hard enough, you can fill your whole day finding things to complain about. That’s why I like Thanksgiving Day. Sure, the eats are good, and I’ve got a free pass to watch football all day. But more importantly, it gives me a chance to re-calibrate my perspective on what a good life I have – a loving wife and two wonderful daughters, my dad, good friends, a challenging and rewarding career, and hobbies that keep me stimulated, passionate, and healthy. I’m thankful for all these things. Without question, cycling is an important part of my life, but the emphasis is on “part” – it’s only one of my interests, and I have a life outside of cycling that rewards me regardless of what my cycling life brings.
Since this blog is, however, cycling-centric, I want to take this opportunity to look at all the things within cycling that I am thankful for. Most of all, I’m thankful for the change it made in my life – I’ve gotten to see and do things that only those committed to an active, healthy lifestyle can possibly hope to see or do. I’ve achieved things I would’ve never before thought possible – essentially erasing my lifelong held self-image as a non-athlete. I’m thankful that, despite the number of crashes I’ve had since starting this craze, none of them have been truly serious or had any long-lasting effect. Things could’ve been worse – a lot worse, but they weren’t, and I had the support of family and friends to help me through what little damage I did sustain. And speaking of friends, I’m thankful for the people I’ve had the pleasure to ride with and race with. Faces change over time, but a few remain through the years and become good friends. I can’t name them all here, but I would like to mention a few and thank them for their notable friendship or support during this past year (in no particular order):
- Mike W, for his companionship in France and the seriously awesome, totally unselfish leadout he gave me during l’Etape du Tour to help me get as good a finish as possible. He helped me believe I could do well when I wasn’t so sure about it.
- Lots of folks were good training partners this past year – Justin, Craig, Ryan, the BugMan ride regulars, etc. But a special shout goes to Jose for being such a faithful training partner in the weeks leading up to l’Etape. Those were some long, brutal rides on four consecutive weekends – Jose didn’t have near as much reason for being out there as I did, but he was, and it really helped me prepare. He loaned me his bike case to save me some cash, and he loaned me his 12-27 cassette to save my knees!
- Speaking of the BugMan Ride regulars, they’ve kept me company in the harshest winter conditions and put up with my occasional crankiness when things don’t go well. Hoffmeister, Parker, and Patrick, in particular, have helped tremendously watching out for struggling riders and helping keep things positive on the ride.
- The DRJ boys (Bob, Wes, and Chris), for welcoming me as a key member of their Thursday rides in West County. These guys are good competitors and great fun, and some of my most memorable training rides from this year occurred on Thursday nights.
- Tim K, for his expert handling of some last minute bike mechanical issues in the days before I left for France. He put me at the top of the list and got me back on the road asap!
- Klages, Nagy, Parker (as well as Mike W and Jose), for all the advice they gave me leading up to l’Etape. They’d “been there, done that” and their words of wisdom did much to help me prepare and calm my fears. Sage riders with good advice from different perspectives.
- Aaron H, for his continued support since I became a Cat3 – he was the first one to tell me I would win a race as a 3. I could tell he believed it – which helped me believe it, which helped make it happen faster than I thought possible.
I move forward with a little more humility (at least temporarily) and tolerance (hopefully not just temporarily). Here’s to hoping the rest of you also have as much to be thankful for. See you on the road!