Tour of America’s Dairyland
Last year on stage 10 at the Tour of America’s Dairyland I quit bike racing.
I’d fallen from a cliff in Ireland a few weeks earlier and broken a few ribs and developed pneumonia. Two weeks after the fall I was racing in Canada in the pouring rain and freezing cold and then caught a virus which wiped everything that was left in my system away. I did 15 minutes of stage 10, took a left turn out of the race, and decided that was it.
I’m quite private with my thoughts, so as far as most people knew, it was business as normal. I was still riding my bike, but not with the intention of racing. I had this perception at the time that I was giving my life up for cycling. If I wasn’t willing give my life up for something that at the same time I wasn’t willing to risk it for, why do it?
I deeply love bicycle racing, and my happiest moments of my life are on a bike. You should be the judge of whether that’s a tragedy or not. Some reflection with some of my very best friends and the chance meeting with someone from the sporting world who has a fantastic skill of seeing a faint flicker of passion in the eyes of the fallen, saw me head to Spain for the most productive winter training of my life.
This year on stage 10 at the Tour of Americas Dairyland I couldn’t imagine leaving it behind.
We welded every gap in the race shut all night. The biggest single prime in USA crit racing was up for grabs. $5500.
It’s a surprise when it will be offered, and with 10 laps to go it was live. I took my sprinter and his leadout exactly where they needed to be (which took 40 seconds at over 700 watts). He took the last corner at 40mph and rolled across the line to win the cash. It’s the only race I know where winning a prime is more important than winning the race. In front of at least 5000 people, it’s one of my career highlights. At which point I should say – Justin, thank you for finishing it off for us and giving me that memory.
Instead of taking a left to get away from the race, I rode laps of the course then rolled up to Justin and our huge cheque and hugged him. My team mates were all so excited. I showered, put jeans and a shirt on then when to dinner with my team. Dinner is a lot tastier when you know it’s earned.